The Portland Timbers definitely left a wakeup call for the rest of MLS that they will be contenders to repeat as league champions. Their playoff chances in danger after seeing their 10-point lead over
Seattle drop to one in less than a month, the Timbers, sixth in the Western Conference, led the Sounders by three goals in less than half an hour and by four at the break before holding on for a
“Obviously, our backs were against the wall coming
into the game," Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. "We knew that when you look at how tight the race is."
Portland had lost four of its last five games while the Sounders had been
unbeaten in five games since Brian Schmetzer replaced Sigi Schmid as head coach.
"The great thing about this team, and the way we built it and the group of guys that I have
is they don’t dwell on past games, past failures," said Porter. "They respond the way good pros do and they go back to work in training and they get better. I thought that was the key. Our
training was excellent this week. We were sharp, guys looked hungry. Usually I know when the guys are going to play well because the training is a reflection."
Andriuskevicius, Fanendo Adi, Lucas Melano and Steven Taylor scored for the Timbers, but Porter said they could have had six goals in the first half.
continue to show those same dimensions we are going to be a hard team to stop," he said. "Adi’s hold up, [Diego] Valeri and [Darlington] Nagbe’s creativity coming inside and
combining off Adi. Luca’s [Melano] pace and [Diego] Chara and Jack [Jewsbury] their ability to hold the midfield and keep possession, but also defend and win balls. Then Taylor and
Ridgy [Liam Ridgewell] really managing that line and playing out of the back as well and starting attacks. They looked sharp, clean and composed and then Vytas and Alvas [Powell]
providing width and getting forward and defending in the channels. So we had it all working."
The Sounders pulled to within two goals six minutes into the second half on goals by
Andreas Ivanschitz and Jordan Morris but Portland held on for the win. Porter liked how his players handled the pressure.
"A lot of teams crumble," he said, "and, like I
said, that is a great experience for this group to be able to do that to be able to dig deep and get the result. I thought we managed the period of play after the two goals in a very good way. I
thought the first goal was a bit lucky. Worst-case scenario, deflection kind of goes in. The second goal was a good goal for them. A lot of teams crumble, but these guys didn’t. So we use that