Portland pounds the expansion club 5-1 before home crowd
PORTLAND - The Portland Timbers are going to need a bigger log if Friday's season opener was any indication of the season ahead.
Sparked by a goal in the 14th minute, and capped by three goals in the final 11 minutes of play, Portland beat expansion Minnesota United 5-1 in the season opener for both teams Friday at Providence Park.
Newcomer Lawrence Olum scored first for Portland, and Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi each talled twice as the Timbers pounded the visitors before yet another raucous, sold out crowd. The Timbers edged Minnesota 13-11 in shots, but had a 6-2 edge in shots on goal.
Both of Adi's goals were in extra time.
Portland returns to action Sunday at Los Angeles against the Galaxy, and returns home March 18 to play the Houston Dynamo.
Portland starts Season 7 in MLS at home vs. expansion foe
March 3, 2017 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
A season after getting largely overworked by a schedule that seemed to not end from the title season the previous year, the Portland Timbers are back to chase their second league title.
Portland opens its 2017 MLS season Friday against Minnesota United at Providence Park.
A late-season slump caused the Timbers to miss out on the playoffs last season, but it helped the team recupperate for this season and retool its lineup.
Leading scorer Fanendo Adi remains as the team's top offensive threat, while midfielder Darlington Nagbe is working his way into the national landscape on Team USA. And, fan favorite Diego Chara isn't going anywhere. Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson returns as well.
Two key losses are defender Nat Borchers, who retired, as did long-time captain Jack Jewsbury.
“We are hoping that it is going to be a very good season,” striker Fanendo Adi told the press at training on Tuesday. “We had a very successful preseason, playing friendly games against very good teams, so we are hoping that will translate into the games that matter the most. Hopefully we will go into the game on Friday with confidence from our last game.”
Of course, the Timbers have had their fair share of success in recent years. They finished the 2013 season on top of the West before making a run to the Conference Championship in the postseason, then surged to MLS Cup 2015, where their 2-1 win over Columbus Crew SC made history for the club.
In both of those seasons, the Timbers were bouncing back from disappointment. The 2012 season marked Portland’s worst year in their MLS era, forcing the club to make their only coaching change since joining the league as they finished second-to-last in the West. The 2014 campaign, like 2016, was saddled with high expectations after the Timbers’ first-place finish in their conference the year before. But a slow start to the season saw them fall just short of a playoff spot, missing out on the sixth and final seed by a single point.
The Timbers would like to break out of their boom-and-bust cycle. Yet for now, they’re focused on moving past the disappointments of 2016 as they start a new season.
“Everyone needed to rest after 34 games in the season,” said Adi. “It was a good offseason, but now that we are back there is just one thing on the plate: we play for trophies, we play to win games as they come. We are going to lose some, but the focus of every game is to come into the game and win.
The Timbers’ leading scorer for the last two seasons, Adi believes it is the players behind him in the formation that could make this season special.
MLS needs to finish Americanization of global football
Nov. 11, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
Does anyone remember the Miracle at Providence Park? It was just two weeks ago, but the MLS Playoffs have essentially buried the excitement of the Portland Timbers' shootout victory over Kansas City in the first round of the league playoffs.
Fans owe that to the global soccer version of playoffs, which allows for each team to play a home game.
It's used across the world, and in the U.S. At least for part of the playoffs. It's time for the U.S. to complete its revamping of the world's playoff structure and ditch the home-home system.
Just play of game each round, and get to the championship game, which could be played Sunday if the league wanted.
That's a U.S. playoff system - one game with the winner moving on. U.S. football uses it, and MLS does to, at least for the first round, and then the final. The conference semis and finals are the problem, with each team getting a home game in each round. All it truly does is extend the playoffs and make them less exciting.
Get to the championship game - that's the point of the playoffs, especially with all the inter-league and national team matches going on.
If the Timbers eventually do reach the MLS Cup, it'll be nearly six weeks after the win over Kansas City because of the home-home series, and a week off for national team play. From the start of the season til the Cup, the Timbers will have played nine months starting March 7. Not even baseball, which has a 162-game regular season, plays that long.
MLS already has a U.S. version of regular season play, which separates the league into two conferences rather than one full table. And, there's no relegation/promotion with the next level league. So, it's a U.S. version of soccer. The playoffs are the final step to Americanizing the global game, which the league needs to do to capture the excitement of games like Portland's win at Providence Park, Oct. 29, 2015.
Mike "Stats" Donovan crunches the numbers on the past season
Nov. 8, 2012 / by Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com
After the final Timbers game of the year, the Portland Mercury’s Brian Gjurgevich dubbed me “Timbers stat nerd of 2012.” This is a quite an honor for me to be bestowed with, and I take the title very seriously.
Because of this, I wanted to take a second and share some of favorite, cool or simply bizarre stats that I came across during or after the 2012 season.
Scoring droughts coming to an end Despite scoring fewer goals in 2012 than 2011, quite a few Portland Timbers had long scoring droughts come to an end.
When Sal Zizzo put in the Timbers first goal in a 2-2 draw against Toronto FC on August 15th, it was the first time Zizzo had ever scored a goal for a professional, non-reserve squad in a league match. Despite signing his first professional contract in July of 2007 with Hannover 96, the winger had only put the ball in the net in friendlies, cup matches or for reserve teams.
If it seemed like David Horst didn’t know how to react after heading the ball into the net against the Seattle Sounders on June 24, its probably because he hadn’t had much practice. After all, that goal was Horst’s first MLS goal despite being drafted in 2008 by Real Salt Lake. Injuries almost derailed Horst’s career but he has seemed to find a home in Portland.
Timbers midfielder Franck Songo’o ended the season in a more attacking role than he had in the beginning of the season. Yet when Songo’o scored his match-winning free kick goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps on August 25, it was his first league goal since scoring on a header for Real Zaragoza on Valentine’s Day 2009 against UD Las Palmas. Songo’o’s last goal with his feet was scored on March 29, 2008 when he scored for Sheffield Wednesday.
Other Timbers to end scoreless streaks were Eric Brunner, who in his 80th MLS match scored a goal with one of his feet for the first time on May 20th, and Kalif Alhassan, who on opening night scored a goal on the US mainland for the first time in his three seasons for the Portland Timbers
Werewolves of Portland One of the more interesting stats that developed through the season was the Timbers penchant for playing well in Portland when under a Full Moon. With wins over San Jose (Thunder Moon) and Colorado (Blue Moon) and draws with Columbus (Flower Moon) and DC United (Harvest Moon), the Timbers ran their record to 5-0-2 in their last seven home Full Moon games.
Five goals is a lot On consecutive Saturdays in July, the Timbers gave up five goals to their opponents. First on July 14, in Gavin Wilkinson’s first game back as the Timbers head coach, Portland fell 5-3 to the defending champ LA Galaxy, then on July 21, the club was shut out 5-0 by FC Dallas. In the previous 335 games (their entire USL tenure and previous 51 games), the club had conceded five goals in a league match just once.
North End reigns supreme The Timbers Army section has always inspired the hometown team and seemed to bring an extra edge to the club. But in its two MLS seasons, the Timbers have taken that appreciation to a new level by scoring a huge portion of its goals in front of the North End. In 2012, 16 out of the 24 goals scored by Portland at Jeld-Wen Field were scored heading towards the North End. Add that to the 21 of 30 scored in the North End in 2011 and that brings the percentage of goals scored in the North End to 68.5 percent.
In the 34 halves the MLS Timbers have played headed towards the North End, they have scored 37 goals. In the 102 halves played on the road or towards the South End, they have scored the exact same number. That translates to 1.09 goals every North End half and 0.36 goals per half played on the road or South End.
No way San Jose
The Portland Timbers and the San Jose Earthquakes have been playing each other since 1975. And, despite the Earthquakes having the best record in the MLS in 2012, San Jose struggled to beat the Timbers, again. Portland is undefeated in five MLS league matches with the Bay Area club (1-0-4) and hasn’t lost a league match against San Jose since May 26, 1982.
Where is my penalty kick? In 2012, the Portland Timbers became the fourth team in MLS history not to be awarded a penalty kick during an entire MLS season, but the Timbers have a longer penalty kick drought to keep an eye on in the future. Portland’s last penalty kick goal was July 30, 2011 against Toronto FC. That means in the Timbers last 48 games, they have scored zero goals via the penalty kick. In those same 48 games, Timbers opponents have score 7 goals from the spot.
If you have any favorite stats of your own from the 2012 Timbers season, please tweet me at twitter.com/themikedonovan and have a wonderful offseason.
After a month of disappointment, Portland beats Seattle 2-1
June 24, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
In another must-win game at home against an imposing foe, the Portland Timbers pulled off an unforseen 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders in an MLS match Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field.
Having lost to an amatuer team in U.S. Open Cup play three weeks ago, and then to the LA Galaxy last week to fall into last place in the Western Conference, the Timbers outhustled their Cascadia Cup rivals from Washington through the opening 45 minutes, which ended with a 2-0 lead, then survived a foul-plagued second half.
Kris Boyd scored his fifth goal on the season and David Horst scored his first goals as the Timbers improved to 4-6-4, 16 points, with all four wins coming on their home turf.
"It was a tremendous performance, especially in the first half," Portland coach John Spencer said. "I'm very happy with the win and the three points."
Seattle, which got a goal from Eddie Johnson, dropped to 7-5-4, 25 points, and remained without a win in league play since May 9.
Portland plays at Colorado, 6-8-1, 19 points, Saturday. The Timbers moved out of last place in the West with the win.
The Timbers fell into last place primarily because other teams passed them, namely the defending league champion Galaxy. Portland, once rated No. 18 of the league's 19 teams, had seemed to have its season back on a positive track after going 2-1-3 beginning with a 1-0 win over league-leading Kansas City, April 21, at Jeld-Wen - the first of its must-win games.
But, after a 1-1 draw with Vancouver, May26, the Timbers fell 1-0 to Cal FC, an amatuer club, in U.S. Open play - at home - and then struggled mightily at Los Angeles last week, causing plenty of commentary all week about the level of effort from players in support of their coach. They took care of those comments from the opening kick, simply outhustling the Sounders across the field for 45 minutes.
"It's part of playing for a club that expects results," said Boyd, who came to Portland prior to the seaosn as the all-time leading scorer in Scotland's Premier League. "I've been in that environment my whole career and it's no different here.
"We definitely didn't want to be isolated at the bottom of the league, so we needed the three points and needed to put forth the effort to make that happen."
Portland took the lead in the Cascadia Cup standings with the win with four points, which leads the Souders and Whitecaps by two points.
The teams combined to make Sunday's game entertaining from the outset with Seattle firing off 15 shots, while Portland had 13. Of the 28 shots, 17 were from inside the penalty box.
Both teams had a player sent off in extra time at the end of the second half. Fredy Montero of Seattle, then Lovel Palmer of Portland were sent off by referee Ricardo Salazar for fighting.
Seattle, which won five straight games earlier and led the Western Conference on May 19, has not scored twice in a game since the 2-all tie with Vancouver, May 19. In their last seven games, the Sounders are 0-4-3.
"Seattle can talk a good game, like anyone, but they're in the a pretty tough situation," Boyd said. "They haven't won in six or seven games.
"It feels good to win a big game like this, but it's over and now we have to look forward to preparing for Colorado."
NO PITY CITY: Ryan Gates of Stumptown Footy steps in as guest co-host
April 16, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
Maybe it is the players on the field, but the Timbers Army seems to be having quite an affect on games this season at Jeld-Wen Field.
In three games, the Portland Timbers have scored six goals, with all of them into the North goal - the net directy in front of the Timbers Army.
It's not a situation for coach John Spencer or other older players such as team captain Jack Jewsbury, who view it as a coincidence, but younger players such as Darlington Nagbe, who's scored twice in that direction, and Jean Andrew-Baptiste, who's scored once, have noticed it.
"Yes, some of us have noticed it," Nagbe said after the Timbers lost 2-1 to Chivas USA Saturday. "It seems like there's more energy going that way and that plays a role in the game.'
The Army seems to have had an affect on opposing teams, too, as both goals Chivas USA scored were into the North net.
Of the 12 goals scored this season in three games at Jeld-Wen, nine have been to the North.
How much impact will the Army have on this weekend's game with Sporting KC at Jeld-Wen? Will it be enough to impact the outcome against the top team in MLS?
The Army will be a key point of discussion during the weekly episode of No Pity City, which begins live on oregonsports.com at 8:30 p.m. from the Bulldog Tavern in Southwest Portland. The episode can be viewed on this page with viewers able to chat live with hosts Cliff Pfenning and Mike Donovan.
Timbers Army readies for harsh weather as MLS Opener hits Soccer City USA
March 12, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
A year after opening their Major League Soccer home schedule in a constistend downpour, the Portland Timbers and their loyal fanbase might get another challenge from Mother Nature.
Wind and rain are expected tonight at the Timbers play host to the Philadelphia Union at Jeld-Wen Field.
The game, set for a 6:30 p.m. start, will be televised by ESPN2.
Portland played its expansion home opener on April 11 last year, beating Chicago 4-2 in a game that began with the Timbers Army singing the National Anthem. The Timbers Army is expected to sing the anthem again tonight.
Portland's roster has been bolstered by a number of off-season signings, led by the Scottish Premier League's all-time leading scorer, Kris Boyd, in February. Boyd scored just seven minutes into his first preseason game last week,
Portland had been viewed as an underdog to reach the 10-team league playoffs, but moved up considerably according to Sports Illustrated columnist Grant Wahl following preseason results. Wahl had Portland picked for sixth just two weeks ago, but moved the Timbers to fourth in the Western Conference on Friday.
Philadelphia, Wahl write, is picked for eighth in the Eastern Conference.
Kawulok nets first goal as Portland hangs with Chivas USA
March 1, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
Portland coach John Spencer got a good look at most of the players either looking for a roster spot or consistent playing time Thursday night, and they were able to rally in the second half for a 1-1 draw with Chivas USA before 15,195 fans at Jeld-Wen Field.
Ryan Kawulok scored in the 78th minute to match a first-half score by Chivas and the Timbers finished with their second draw of the preseason tournament, three days after a 1-1 tie with San Jose.
Spencer suited up a line-up full of players from last season's U23 squad as well as unsigned players led by forward Sebastian Rincon. The unit applied consistent pressure, but few serious scoring opportunities until Kawulok found the net off a corner by Kalif Alhassan, who entered as a second-half sub.
"He did well with the goal," Spencer said of Kawulok. "That's why we signed him. He's ready to play in the first team right now."
Portland plays its final preseason game Sunday against Sweden's AIK.
San Jose recovers and dominates much of preseason match
Feb. 27, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning
Two weeks before the start of the Major League Soccer season, the Portland Timbers jumped out to an inspiring start with a goal just 15 minutes into their preaseason match with San Jose Monday night at Jeld-Wen Field.
Kalif Alhassan scored with a spectacular curving shot for a 1-0 lead, but the Earthquakes recovered and controlled most the remaining 75 minutes, settling for a 1-all draw in the first round of the four-team tournament.
Hanyer Mosquera, trying to control a cross, knocked the ball in for an own goal, tying the score in the 60th minute.
The tournament continues for the Timbers Thursday night with a match against Chivas USA and concludes Sunday against AIK.