Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese
General thoughts on the match and the season…
“First of all, disappointed. All of us because we believed we could fight all the way through and be a team that was a contender because I thought this year, what the guys have been able to give me, to give to the organization has been a lot. I’m extremely proud of every player that is in this club because not only they have fought through so many adversities. We did a great job in the MLS is Back Tournament. This season we fought through it. We had so many situations we had to deal with, and the guys always came ready to be able to perform. It’s unfortunate today that we finish this way. A match in which we had in control. A match in which we should finish 1-0, but unfortunately something that not only has happened today, but has happened also a few other games, the closing of the match, the final minutes, we needed to be better. We allowed that moment for Dallas to be able to find themselves a goal and then they believed again at the last second. When you leave a game to the [penalty kicks] it can go either way. It’s unfortunate because we did everything to be able to have won this match until that moment. This is what the game is all about. At the end of the day you need to be good in all areas and we allowed that to happen today. I’m extremely, extremely proud of the group. Everybody is amazing. It is an amazing locker room. The fact that the guys have been so disciplined not to get any [COVID-19] - thank god - that’s also for me an amazing achievement this year, looking at so many teams and what they have gone through. That’s another area that I’m extremely proud of every player that we have in this club. Now we have to sort this one because we didn’t plan for it. It was difficult because we believed in ourselves to be able to continue. But at the end, you can believe all you want, and you need to execute. Today, we did the majority of the game what we needed to do, but giving that goal at the end of the 90 minutes put us in a lot of difficulties and sometimes you’re going to get, like the post at the end, that the ball is not going to go in, but sometimes you create those situations and those scenarios. But again, I’m extremely proud of this organization and hopefully now that we have to prepare for next year, hopefully we see our fans back again because we miss them very much.”
On his first thoughts after losing the penalty shootout…
“Once you get to the [penalty kicks], you need to understand that anything can happen. So that’s something that you have to know that it could go that way and you’re very hopeful that you can get the job done. But in reality, when you get to PKs, anything can happen. So right at that moment, of course, there’s a little bit of disappointment. There’s a hard feeling of that we’re not continuing to compete. We live for this club. We compete to win titles and go all the way. Going out at this moment in the season, in the playoff, in the first match, in a game that we controlled, in a game that we did things right, in a game that we created a goal that should have been sufficient for us to have gone through. Again, allowing that goal at the end is the part that went out of our control and when you get to PKs, then this can happen. It’s unfortunate because, as I said before, we believed that even though we had adversity and players that were not with us, we still had a group that could go all the way and unfortunately right now we are out and now we have to plan for next year.”
On if going out of the playoffs this way has clouded the success of the team this season…
“No. First of all, I have to say that looking back at the season, the guys have done a tremendous job because winning the MLS is Back [Tournament], winning that trophy which probably will stay in history as the only club that was able to win that championship and we’ll see in the future. Hopefully there’s not going to be any other tournament like that because we’re going to be able to live normal again. But not only because of that it’s the way the team played, the way we went about the season. How competitive we were and how everybody that stepped on the field was able to execute and perform with a lot of adversities in so many ways. With injuries, with players suspended, with training in an indoor soccer facility for weeks. I’m so proud of this group. In this moment it doesn’t erase all the good that we did this year, but of course it brings disappointment because we’re competitive. We’re not satisfied with the fact that we won MLS is Back. That’s not sufficient for us. We want to win everything. We want to win every game. We want to give everything to our fans, to Portland, to this team. So finishing right now is not going to erase anything, but it’s disappointing because we are a team that wants to always be in the final. The fact that we went out today at the first playoff match is something that is not going to make us happy especially to the fact that we had the game in control. We, in the last minute, allowed a goal to come in that changed the trajectory of everything that we did well during the match. As we can see, we had guys like [Blake] Bodily that were able to come in. Product from our academy. Guys that step in to make sure that they did the job, and this is something that has happened the entire season. I’m extremely proud to be the coach of this group of guys.”
On challenges for the team closing out games this season…
“No. It was a very different year. So many different things happen. We have to play teams consecutively. We had to play without fans. There were so many things that were so different and strange this year, but I have to give credit to MLS for trying to figure it out. Some things they did well. Some other things they didn’t do well. But they tried their best in a difficult situation to try to manage everything that was happening. We can have our opinions in some areas, but ultimately, I think that we have to give credit to the fact that we have been able to continue to play. That we were able to have a tournament and then a season. I think now we’ll see how things are going to move forward. For us, now we have to start planning next year. It’s something that we didn’t expect today because we felt strong to continue to move forward, but in the end you have to execute it on the field and it’s not your feelings, but what you do on the field that makes the difference and unfortunately right now we are out of this race in which I thought that the guys did a great job to be in this position. First to continue, but unfortunately today we got our dreams broken per se.”
On Jorge Villafaña’s performance…
“He played very well today. He scored a goal for us to be able to go ahead. Now it’s two goals in two games for him and so Villafaña has been playing at a great level this season for the majority of the season. I think he picked it up at some point and since then he’s been outstanding. The fact that he scored today is something that it was very important for us. What a goal he scored. It happens. You can miss a [penalty kick]. Sometimes, I don’t know why, it’s something that, so many years I’ve been playing, when you score a goal in the game, sometimes the PK doesn’t go your way. I’ve seen it a few other times. But what I can say to Villafaña is, you know, he’s been outstanding. These are things that can happen, and he gave us the goal for us to be ahead. We briefly spoke there. He’s a veteran already. He’s been in so many important matches so he understands completely this moment and he knows what to do.”
Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri
On his emotions following the loss…
“It’s frustration in the PK shootout, whatever can happen and it’s just a tiny difference that changed the game. But at the end, obviously, we are very disappointed with the way our season is ending but the team left everything in the field. So that’s why we have to be proud and then as I say, we played a good game and it’s just the game, in the last ball of the game we allowed them to be back in the competition. In the end, as I say, it’s very frustrating, it’s a tough emotion. It’s hard to process now. But we have to rest well and scout the season to see why we had a good season and what was some positive things that we did during the whole season and trying to reinforce it for the next one.”
On losing in a penalty-kick shootout as opposed to losing in regulation…
“It’s tough. It’s something that you don’t expect, most likely the way we played during the game and it’s kind of the worst feeling because it’s one kick that changed everything. But at the end, this is soccer. Something has to decide who advances and who doesn’t and as I say, it’s tough to process now that it’s a loss. Nobody expected that. We were very confident in our team and obviously, we wanted to play another final in the MLS. But, we have competitions next season to play and we have to reinforce and keep building the team for the next season.
On the buildup leading to Jorge Villafaña’s goal…
“I think it was a great goal. We created a lot of chances today. We probably could be a little more precise or maybe a little bit more spicy to finish the situations but that buildup was great... Cristhian [Paredes] gave me a great pass to break their middle line and then Jorge [Villafaña] was making a run. I just put the ball where he needed and then he finished it in a great way. I think it was a great goal. We have scored a lot of goals with good buildup this season and it talks a lot about how we improve as a team.”
- The penalty-kick shootout was the fourth for the Timbers in their MLS era, joining the 2015 Knockout Round match against Sporting Kansas City, the 2018 Western Conference Semifinals against Seattle Sounders FC and the 2020 MLS is Back Tournament Round of 16 match against FC Cincinnati.
- Portland and FC Dallas combined to make 15 consecutive penalty kicks in the shootout, which is the most consecutive combined makes in MLS Cup Playoffs history.
- The Timbers finished the match with 22 shots – the most by the club in an MLS Cup Playoff game.
- The match was the 20th MLS Cup Playoff game in the club’s history.
- Jorge Villafaña scored hist first career postseason goal in his 16th playoff appearance.
- Villafaña has scored in two consecutive matches after scoring in Portland’s regular-season finale against Los Angeles FC on Nov. 8.
- Diego Valeri notched the 100th assist of his Timbers career in all competitions.
- Valeri recorded his eighth career postseason assist, which is tied for 12th-most in MLS history with David Beckham and Lee Nguyen
- Felipe Mora, Dario Zuparic, Pablo Bonilla, Eryk Williamson, Yimmi Chara, Marco Farfan and Blake Bodily made their MLS Cup Playoffs debuts in the match.
- Bodily became the first Homegrown Player in MLS history to play in an MLS Cup Playoffs match before playing in the regular season.