Another must-win greets Timbers, fans

Portland gets a visit from league-leading San Jose Tuesday
July 1, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

Don't call it a comeback, unless there is a comeback - which is where the Portland Timbers seem to be again with their season.

Following a disastrous, 3-0 loss at Colorado, Portland returns to the friendly confines of Jeld-Wen Field to face San Jose Tuesday night, with San Jose entering the stadium as the top team in Major League Soccer.

Portland is 4-7-4, 16 points, and has scored 14 goals this season. San Jose is 11-3-3, 36 points, has scored 35 goals, and is coming off a 4-3 win over the LA Galaxy that's being touted as one of the league's best-ever matches.

Game time is 7:30 p.m.

Portland has faced a must-win scenario before, and performed beautifully. On April 21, the Timbers played host to Kansas City, then ranked No. 1 in the league, just a week after a disastrous 3-1 loss at Los Angeles and won 1-0 - only their second win of the season at the time.

Then, on June 24, Portland hammered Seattle 2-1, a week after an uninspiring 1-0 loss at Los Angeles.

At 16 points, the Timbers are eighth in the Western Conference, ahead of just FC Dallas. But, they're just three points behind Chivas USA and six points behind fifth-place Colorado, and have a game in hand over every team in the West.

And, Portland is 4-2-2 at home and enters the game at 2-1-2 in its last five contests. San Jose is 4-1-0 over the same span.


Timbers back on track as a team

Five cards should get the attention of opponents when attacking Portland
June 24, 2012 / By Mike Donovan,

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

Timbers pull off a stunner at Jeld-Wen

After a month of disappointment, Portland beats Seattle 2-1
June 24, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

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."


It's all caps for post-Cal FC Timbers

Portland has five players doing international duty during two-week layoff
June 5, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

It's been nearly a week since the Portland Timbers helped establish a new level of success ... for adult amatuer soccer teams by losing 1-0 to Cal FC in the U.S. Open Cup Wednesday.

But, that's in the past for the Timbers and their fans. Up next is a two-week layover before the team visits Los Angeles for a game with the Galaxy.

Portland had one of its most successful months since it joined Major League Soccer last year by winning once and earning a draw in three other matches to go unbeaten in May - the team's first unbeaten month in MLS action.

Although, the joy was short-lived, the Timbers used the month to rally back into the thick of the tightly-knit Western Conference at 3-5-4, 13 points. Portland is tied with FC Dallas for seventh place.

The Galaxy, last season's league champion, is last in the West at 3-8-2, 11 points.

The teams play June 17 at the Home Depot Center.

While the Timbers won't play until then, five of their players are in action with national teams, including several World Cup qualifiers.

Jake Gleeson (New Zealand), Futty Danso (Gambia), Steve Purdy (El Salvador), Lovel Palmer (Jamaica) and Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica) are all with their national teams. Wallace and Purdy will face one another during a World Cup qualifier June 8.

This topics and more will be part of Tuesday's "No Pity City" webcast, live from the Bulldog Tavern in West Portland at 8:30 p.m. The webcast can be seen on this page or join the UStream page and chat online with co-hosts Cliff Pfenning and Mike Donovan.






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Late goal doesn't phase Spencer

Portland struggles again in the late going, but keeps up strong play
May 27, 2012, By Mike Donovan,

For the Timbers in 2012, the final 15 minutes have been a horror show in many ways. Saturday night was no different, as Portland gave up a goal after the 75th minute of a match for the eighth time in their 12 matches.

And despite not holding onto a win against the rival Vancouver Whitecaps, John Spencer seemed neither worried or upset about failing to hold onto a late lead.

“For me, its not a massive problem,” said Spencer about the Timbers continually giving up late goals.

Spencer wasn’t the only one, who didn’t seemed to be worried about the late goal.

"They didn't have much tonight, and that one goal was just a matter of the ball bouncing the wrong way," Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said. "I don't think it's anything but just a bad bounce.”

When asked if he was disappointed with the match, Spencer told the media that he was “disappointed in 1 person only.”

That one person was referee Jorge Gonzalez. And while Spencer was careful never to mention his name, he referred to him on multiple occasions during his post-game press conference. The point of contention occurred in the 65th minute when Kalif Alhassan was felled by Jay DeMerit. Spencer didn’t mince words regarding the play.

“(I’m) absolutely astonished we didn’t get a penalty kick,” Spencer said.   

The Timbers started the match with an attacking lineup that saw the return of Eric Alexander and Kalif Alhassan to the starting lineup. Darlington Nagbe was also moved to attacking center midfield, where he played in his two-goal effort against Real Salt Lake. Spencer was happy with the style of play the new-look Timbers exhibited against their Cascadia Cup foes.

“Some of the best football we’ve played all year,” said Spencer, who didn’t think much of the Whitecaps style in the match. “They came to play for a tie and they got a tie.”

A Kris Boyd goal in the 67th minute put the Timbers ahead. Alhassan’s great defensive effort won the ball for the Timbers, who then slotted the ball to Jewsbury. Jewsbury’s cross was tipped by Vancouver’s Joe Cannon before falling to Boyd, who kicked it into the net.

Boyd’s goal did not hold up, however, as Vancouver’s Darron Mattocks scored his first career MLS goal in the 84th minute. Eric Hassli boxed out Hanyer Mosquera and was able to head the ball towards Mattocks, who deftly chested the ball to himself, before blasting over Troy Perkins.

Halftime saw a 25-minute delay as lightning swept across the Rose City. The final ten minutes of the first half were played in a downpour of rain and hail to go along with swirling winds. Despite the delay, the 25 minutes following halftime saw a Timbers side dominate the run of play.

Despite a three-week league lay-off, Spencer is taking Wednesday’s US Open Cup seriously.

“We’re going to try and win the US Open Cup,” adding that the Timbers do not have a break due to the Cup.

Portland will host Cal FC on Wednesday at Jeld-Wen Field in the third round of the US Open Cup. A win Wednesday could set up a match with three-time defending US Open Cup champion Seattle Sounders.

Tune in Tuesday night at 8:30 PM for No Pity City, live on and UStream. Also check out and for continuing Timbers coverage.


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One point never hurt so good

Portland ties Vancouver, but misses a big opportunity
May 26, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

A month ago, a tie with Vancouver might have seemed like a favorable outcome for the Portland Timbers, but it wasn't Saturday night.

The Timbers scored on the field for the second-straight game, but gave up a goal in the final six minutes and settled for a draw before 20,438 fans at Jeld-Wen Field.

Kris Boyd scored his team-leading fourth goal of the year in the 67th minute to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead, and Jorge Perlaza appeared to have drawn a foul in the penalty box a short time later, but there was no call and Vancouver survived and achieved its fourth draw of the season.

"This is a very frustrating outcome because I feel like we were the better team," Portland coach John Spencer said.

Portland scored a draw for the fourth time this season, which finished its first month in Major League Soccer without a loss. Portland is 3-5-4, 13 points, and is 1-0-3 in its last four games. The Timbers have scored just three goals in that span, but solid defense has not only moved the team from last place in the Western Conference, but into a tie for seventh after FC Dallas lost to Real Salt Lake Saturday.

Vancouver is fourth at 5-3-4, 19 points.

The match was the first for Portland int he Cascadia Cup, the annual competition run by fans in Portland, Vancouver and Seattle. Vancouver tied Seattle 2-all last week. The Timbers have three weeks off from MLS games before playing at Los Angeles, June 17, and then plays host to Seattle, June 24.



Timbers finally get on board goal train

Brunner's goal, Boyd cross lift Portland past Chicago 2-1
May 20, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

The 2012 season changed dramatically for the Portland Timbers with just one goal Sunday.

Defender Eric Brunner popunded home a loose ball from 5 yards out in the first half and Portland scored again in the second half for a 2-1 victory over Chicago in MLS action at Jeld-Wen Field.

Brunner's goal ended a streak of nine halves without a score for the team, which has sat in the bottom of the Western Conference standings for weeks. But, Brunner's goal, coupled with an own goal scored by Fire midfielder Logan Pause off a searing Kris Boyd header in the second half, moved the Timbers past the Los Angeles Galaxy and within reach of the middle of the pack in the West.

"This was a huge win for us, especially with some of the results from around the league this weekend," Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins said. "With this win, and some good results in the next couple games, we're right back in the thick of things."

Portland improved to 3-5-3, 12 points, heading into a home game with Vancouver Saturday. Vancouver, which moved up to MLS last year along with the Timbers, is 5-3-3, 18 points after a 2-2 tie with Seattle Saturday.

The Timbers play a friendly with Spanish club Valencia C.F. Wednesday.

Chicago dropped to 4-3-3, 15 points.

Brunner found the net in the 20th minute, which set off an explosive celebration at Jeld-Wen from the Timbers Army. The goal was the team's first since the first half of a 3-1 loss at Los Angeles, April 14, and the first at home since April 7.

Die-hard fans had resorted to everything from eating odd meals to prayer circles in order to inspire the team to break its scoreless streak.

Brunner's goal came off a corner kick and had assists from Boyd and Hanyer Mosquera. The goal was the first for the team at the South End of Jeld-Wen this season, and gave the team only its fifth different scorer.

Chicago answered in the 39th minute when Jalil Anibaba took a short pass from Marco Pappa and scored from 10 yards out past Perkins, who hadn't given up a goal since Los Angeles.

Portland got the game winner in the 52nd minute also off a corner, when Sal Zisso powered the ball directly at Boyd, who flicked the ball off the right side of his head into the center of the goal mouth, where Pause was located. Boyd, who hasn't scored since Los Angeles, celebrated the goal, although it went into the books as an own goal - the second scored by a Timbers opponent this season. Both own goals were created by Boyd - Sporting Kansas City having scored off a Boyd cross in their April 21 game at Jeld-Wen.

The second goal broke a streak of 16-straight games in which the Timbers hadn't scored in both halves.





Timbers can't net a goal, but still score

Portland battles Houston to a 0-0 draw on the road
May 15, 2012

The drought continues for the Portland Timbers, but at least it didn't turn into a loss Tuesday night in Houston.

Despite failing to score for the fourth-straight game, the Timbers held Houston without a goal and drew 0-0 in MLS action, a result that earned the team a point in the league standings.

Goalkeeper Troy Perkins made a pair of dramatic saves in Houston's first night game at BBVA Compass Stadium, which opened for play Saturday.

Portland improved to 2-5-3, 9 points, while Houston improved to3-3-3, 12 points.

The draw was impressive not only because it came on the road, but because so many statistics were slanted toward the Dynamo. Houston fired off 18 shots, nine more than the Timbers, and seven required a save by Perkins. Houston had 486 passes in the game, 160 more than Portland, and 82 percent were completed against 67 percent for the Timbers.

The point pulled the Timbers within three points of Dallas, which has played to more games.

Portland next plays host to Chicago, Sunday at 4 p.m. at Jeld-Wen Field.

Timbers have plenty to focus on during rest

Portland has another week off before playing at Houston
May 8, 2012

There's some relaxation afoot for the Portland Timbers this week as they have an extra three days off before playing at Houston, May 15, but that's an extra three days to delve into the importance of their next game.

Portland needs a gool old fashioned win however it happens and a win at Houston would be something close to monumetal, a topic that will be key to Tuesday night's webcast of No Pity City on

The show begins at 8:30 p.m. and can be viewed on this page.

Portland's season is awash in drama after only nine games. Not only are the Timbers at the bottom of the Western Conference at 2-5-2, 8 points, but they haven't scored a goal in three games, 3.5 halves to be exact.

The team has scored twice in a game only twice and has yet to score in both halves of a game.

And, the Timbers are winless on the road, earning only a 1-all tie at Dallas in their first road game.

The biggest reason for drama at Houston, is the home club playing its first MLS night game in its new stadium after starting the season with seven straight road games.

Portland's continually changing line-up is likely to see another change, although one that's likely to be determined shortly before game time.

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Futty, Wallace make most of their chances

Despite a frustrating draw, new starters show well
May 5, 2012 / By Mike Donovan,

For Futty Danso, it was a return from an injury. For Rodney Wallace, it was a chance to play his natural position. Both players returned to the Timbers starting lineup Saturday and both players gave performances that would merit their inclusion in future contests.

Despite their successes, the Timbers were still unable to overcome the Columbus Crew and had to settle for a nil-nil draw in front of a sold-out Jeld-Wen Field. Portland outshot Columbus 15 and 8 and had six shots saved by Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum.

Seeing the field for the first time since breaking his left foot in the preseason, Danso hardly missed a beat. Whether in the air on set pieces or backtracking on Crew forwards, the Gambian international seemed to be at game speed.

His pairing with Hanyer Mosquera provided something that seemed to be missing in previous matches. While Brunner provides leadership, he simply has not played as well in 2012 as he did in 2011.

Last season, the Timbers had three centerbacks (Danso, Brunner, and David Horst) who played well. If Danso can continue to perform well, Portland might be able to have the same situation for the rest of 2012.

Unlike Danso, Wallace had seen time on the field in 2012. However, for the first time this season, Wallace was playing in the midfield. Playing in the attacking half of the field against the Crew, it was easy to see why Wallace plays in the midfield for the Costa Rican National Team.

In fact, he best scoring chance of the match came when Wallace took a blast from outside the 18-yard box and forced a great save from Gruenebaum. Despite the great save by the Crew goalkeeper, Wallace’s pinpoint accuracy from distance was a refreshing change for a Timbers squad that had seen few shots on target in recent weeks.

Wallace added two more shots on target and played his best defense of the year. When in the midfield, Wallace tracks back nicely and plays aggressive soccer that produced quite a few turnovers. At left back, however, Wallace seems timid and uncomfortable being the last player defending. It is amazing how much more comfortable Wallace looks playing in his natural position.

With more than a full week of practice before their next match, it will be interesting to see if the Timbers make any changes to a side that produced a shutout and had as many shots on goal as the previous two games combined. No matter the lineup May 15th in Houston, Danso and Wallace will have done nothing to merit a demotion to the bench.

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