Amid Portland's home swoon, Savarese calls for calm

Portland was supposed to shoot up into second place in the Western Conference -- behind runaway leader LAFC -- with its 10-game homestand that began Aug. 10.

The Timbers were in eighth place with a .500 record when the homestand began, and eight games into the homestand they are again in eighth place at .500 after Wednesday's 2-0 loss to New York Red Bulls at Providence Park.

Portland's inability to break down its opposition is nothing new -- it's only scored four goals in its last six games -- but it was quickly behind the eight-ball on Wednesday night.

The Red Bulls jumped ahead in the third minute when Josh Sims delivered a cross that made its way through the box to defender Kyle Duncan, who scored for his first MLS goal. Minutes later, they could have scored again but had two shots cleared off the line.

“We didn’t start with the right energy even though we knew that’s what we needed to do," said Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese. "That’s one thing that I think wasn’t good today at the beginning, at the start. Because we allowed them to get into spaces, not covering and letting them get too many second balls and play balls in behind that we knew they were going to do and unfortunately we didn’t match up to that energy, that intensity at the beginning."

The game then went the way others have gone recently for the Timbers. They had their chances but couldn't capitalize.

"We matched up physically and we started to do things better," Savarese said, "In the second half we created a lot of chances and we just have to capitalize on those chances."

The Timbers have struggled in recent weeks without Argentines Brian Fernandez, who has been battling a stomach virus, and Sebastian Blanco, who had had a calf injury. Fernandez went the distance for the first time in almost a month against the Red Bulls, while Blanco was limited to 18 minutes off the bench.

"I still think it’s been difficult having so many players out," said Savarese. "We saw [Blanco] today as soon as he came in, he changed the game. We were limited in minutes we could use him; only 10-15 minutes. No more than that because we don’t want him to get injured again. So that limits us. Having players like [Blanco], Brian on the field, we’re a different team. Unfortunately, today we couldn’t get the job done."

Savarese isn't about to panic. Portland still has a game in hand on FC Dallas, which moved into seventh place when it picked up a 0-0 tie at Seattle, and plays three of its final four games at home, beginning with a match against Minnesota United on Sunday.

"I think we need to stay calm," he said. "We need to make sure we don’t stay too much on these opportunities we missed and these points that we missed. We still have enough points to be able to make sure that we make the playoff. It’s about staying calm, stay connected with our fans as a united front to make sure that we are able, together, to go through this difficult time and hopefully be able to make the playoff.”

Eastern Conference:
1. *NYCFC, 57 points (30)
2. *Philadelphia, 52 points (30)
3. *Atlanta United, 51 points (30)
4. Toronto FC, 45 points (31)
5. D.C. United, 45 points (31)
6. NY Red Bulls, 44 points (31)
7. New England, 40 points (30)
8. Montreal, 37 points (31)
9. Chicago, 37 points (31)
10. Orlando City, 36 points (31)
11. Columbus, 34 points (31)
12. FC Cincinnati, 21 points (31)
Note: In parentheses are games played.
*Clinched playoff berth.

Western Conference:
1. *LAFC, 64 points (30)
2. Seattle, 50 points (31)
3. Minnesota United, 48 points (30)
4. Real Salt Lake, 46 points (30)
5. LA Galaxy, 45 points (30)
6. San Jose, 44 points (30)
7. (+1) FC Dallas, 44 points (31)
8. (-1) Portland, 43 points (30)
9. Sporting KC, 37 points (30)
10. Colorado, 36 points (31)
11. Houston, 34 points (30)
12. Vancouver, 30 points (31)
Note: In parentheses are games played.
*Clinched playoff berth.

2 comments about "Amid Portland's home swoon, Savarese calls for calm".
  1. Eric Anderson, September 19, 2019 at 9:20 a.m.

    Can't tell you how much I love this part of Savarese's quote:

    "Stay connected with our fans as a united front. ..."

  2. beautiful game, September 19, 2019 at 3:31 p.m.

    When the soccer gods get angry, team scoring can dry up out of nowhere. I remember a three game stretch of non-scoring by the NASL NY Cosmos who had a high scoring team. They needed to get one tie in order to make the playoffs. They were beaten in the last three games by identical 1-0 scores. If anything could deter a scoring chance, it did.

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