Timbers back on track as a team
When Fredy Montero shoved David Horst near the end of the Timbers 2-1 victory over Cascadia Cup rival Seattle, there was little doubt that the game had reached its boiling point. But, it was the reaction of Horst’s teammates that said more about the Timbers current attitude than any goal could.
Within seconds, Horst’s teammates surrounded Montero and Eddie Johnson. By the time Kris Boyd stuck his finger in Montero’s face it was clear. The players on the 2012 Portland Timbers have each other’s backs.
Sunday’s victory might be the defining moment of the season, but it was certainly the game where Portland showed its determination, camaraderie and character. Captain Jack Jewsbury summed up how the team feels about one another after the match.
“(In) this locker room, everyone’s got each other’s back,” said Jewsbury post-match.
The Timbers came out firing out of the chute with two goals in the first 25 minutes of play. Boyd coolly finished a Steven Smith pass in the 16th minute, while Horst scored his first MLS goal off a header nine minutes later.
A superb Eddie Johnson goal gave the Sounders life, but the Timbers were able to hold on and provide a much needed win for the club. Spencer was impressed with his team’s desire to perform against Seattle.
“Everybody was fully committed to the uniform,” said Spencer, who is now 3-1-2 in Cascadia Cup matches.
For the Timber player who has been with the club the longest, it was a win four years in the making. At the end of the match, Futty Danso collapsed to the ground in celebration of his first victory against Seattle.
“This game means a lot to the city, a lot to the fans,” said Futty Danso, who signed with the club in April 2009.
Danso also talked specifically how much this game means to the Timbers Army.
“If they could pick one game to win, they’d pick this one,” Danso said.
While Spencer, Boyd and Smith have all played in the famous Old Firm rivalry in Scotland, there is still something special in playing in the United States longest running soccer rivalry.
“These are the games you want to play in as a player,” said Smith, who had first MLS assist on Boyd’s goal.
In the weeks following the Timbers 1-0 loss to amateur side Cal FC, a lot has been made of both the Timbers effort and quality. The Timbers displayed both Sunday.
Kalif Alhassan and Franck Songo’o both displayed incredible footwork, whether along the sidelines or 18 yards from goal. Diego Chara was his usual self, making long runs forward on counter attacks and patrolling the middle whenever Osvaldo Alonso was on the ball. Chara finished the game with 36 successful passes to just three unsuccessful.
It had been a long time since the Timbers had last defeated their rivals to the North - 1,520 days to be exact. However, sometimes the waiting makes the winning that much more satisfying.
For Horst, the satisfaction might come with splinters because Horst said he will be sleeping with his log slice tonight. For the rest of the Timbers players, organization and fans, the dreams will be of how much satisfaction comes in beating your rival.
Follow Mike Donovan on Twitter @themikedonovan and Tuesdays on No Pity City on oregonsports.com.