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Yesterday…

Most don’t need a rocket scientist to know that Portland didn’t fare well yesterday evening and while some may be really rattled by that I’m not.  

Real Salt Lake has been a fortress for that club all season long and it really isn’t any surprise to me that they came away with a two goal lead; as wide open as it was things could have been different.

They’ve only lost twice there; once to SKC 2-1 and once to LA 2-0.

All told set-pieces played a major role in the outcome but for me, the most critical goal came late on when Piquionne went up for that stunning header to draw the Timbers within two as opposed to three.

That’s a much easier hurdle to climb and perhaps, perhaps, it signals a tactical breakthrough in how to penetrate and score against those guys?

It’s hard to say as their team has been so strong defensively in the past but here’s some information for your consideration before taking some time to read all the quotes from Caleb and others provided a bit further down below.

Real have lost 7 times on the road this year with an average goals scored of 1 and an average of goals against at 2.43.  Two teams have been able to defeat RSL with a 2 goal differential – Seattle (2-0) and LA (4-2).

Seattle and LA are two teams that Portland have defeated, in JELD-WEN, in the past, so defeating RSL at JELD-WEN (2-0) can be done as it has been done by other teams this year.

When Seattle defeated RSL they had just under 60% of the possession and LA had just under 54% possession; again these are targets that Portland have hit in the past, at home, at least nine times this year.

In both games Seattle and LA hit an 80% passing accuracy target – Portland have hit an 80% passing accuracy target 10 games, at home, this year – so again… this is not an unusual target for Portland.

Portland have scored 2 goals or more this year, at home, 8 times and have shut out their opponents 11 times.  In four of those games Portland had a score-line 2-nil or better.

They defeated Colorado 3-nil (Playoff team) Toronto 4-nil, Chivas 3-nil and Houston (Eastern Conference finals) 2-nil – so again these are not uncharted waters for Portland.

Finally, and worth mentioning again – RSL had no shots on goal against Portland the last time they visited JELD-WEN – while Rio Tinto has been a fortress for RSL; JELD-WEN has also been a Fortress for Portland – bottom line here is RSL can and does lose on the road.

So for me the belief needs to be there that this team has a chance and you can bet everyone of the Timbers players will be working hard knowing that chance exists.

In closing here’s the complete offering of all the quotes after last nights game provided as part of the Official Portland Timbers Press Release…

MLS Cup Playoffs | Quotes: Portland Timbers at Real Salt Lake

Portland Timbers Quotes

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter
Overall thoughts:
“I thought we came out with the energy and spirit and mentality that we have shown over the last several months, really the last 10 games. We came out on the front foot, got the first goal, and then for whatever reason we just stopped playing. We dropped off far too much. We let them have the ball and come at us and you could start to feel it coming – the goal. I wasn’t surprised when they scored because when you sit back that much and you drop off as much as we did against a team like Salt Lake, who’s very good on the ball and has some good attacking players, then you’re bound to give up a goal eventually. In saying that, looking at their goals, they’re correctable but disappointing. I didn’t think we defended very well tonight. And, again, over the last 10 games the one thing we’ve done really well is we’ve been good defensively, and we’ve grinded out results. It’s not just the backs either, it’s the entire team, and I thought our pressure after the first goal wasn’t really what we’re capable of. So, we need to get back to that, get that right again because at this level, playing good teams, good players, you’ve got to defend well. And I just thought we were sloppy. And we made some critical mistakes. Obviously we gave up two set pieces which just comes down to marking your man. We had the marks right, it was all sorted. We lost a mark on the first goal. Schuler gets up, heads it. Obviously the second goal was an individual error, and Futty’s just as disappointed as all of us. He knows he’s got to kick that ball in the stands. So now you’re 2-1. In the second half, they score on a counter attack when we’re up the field. We haven’t been giving up those type of goals and we did tonight for some reason. And then the fourth one’s another set piece. Four goals are not indicative of the type of team that we are. But at the end of the day, we weren’t good enough defensively, and we’ve dug ourselves a hole. The last goal was huge for us because that basically makes it 2-0. We’ve come back from two goals quite a bit this year actually, so you look at it as a two-goal margin, and if we get that first goal, we are going to make this thing interesting. There’s no doubt about it, every guy in our locker room, coaching staff, we all believe that we can turn this around and win the series. Because we’re at home, in front of our fans, we are capable of scoring three goals or more in games, we’ve done that many times, we’ve come back in games several times as well. In some ways I’m looking forward to seeing how aggressive and proactive we are pushing this game, because typically when we’re pushing games, because we have to win, we’re extremely hard to deal with. And you saw that in the second half, I mean we had 60 percent possession in the second half and, you know, we were a much different team, you saw, when we were chasing it. You know, but again, we can’t make the critical mistakes defensively that we did if we want to win.”

On the team’s mentality and if he’ll have to bring that back up:
“No, they’ll be fine. And this team has been through adversity this year. Obviously we’ve lost some games, we lost a game here 4-2 that sent us on a 10-game unbeaten streak. So, this team, one thing I’ve learned about them is they’re mentally tough and they’ve got great character and that won’t change. That doesn’t change in one loss. We’re still the same team we are, but for whatever reason we just got away from some of the things that we’ve been doing that have made us successful, and I think a lot of it is just kind of the psychology. We scored a goal and then we just kind of stopped playing for whatever reason and we let them back into it. Maybe it was fatigue, or the altitude, I am not sure, but you did see in that second half, we were back to the type of team we want to be. We need to take that into the next game.”

On how to handle the two-week break:
“Well, it’s good because I think we need to get back to the training ground and improve in some areas. We need to get back to working on set pieces and box defending, getting tight again and organized in our back four. We’ve been a team that’s very good defensively, and that doesn’t change in one game. It definitely wasn’t a performance that was indicative of the type of team we are. I mean it was a bit of an anomaly and I’m disappointed in it, they are as well, but we’re going to get it right. We’re not going to dwell on the negatives. At the end of the day, we know what we’re capable of doing and, again, we’re at home.”

On how the team can get over the loss:
“They’re over it already. They can’t wait until the next game. I think that last goal was big, really big, because I think it gave us a little bit of life knowing that now we only need two goals and that’s, for our team, meant a lot. We know we are capable of that. And for their team, to some extent, probably that rattles them a little bit and gets them thinking. So I know it’s a hole that we’ve dug. We’re not happy about that, it’s not where we wanted to be. But at the same time, we‘re capable of turning it around, no question about it.”

Timbers midfielder Will Johnson
On how their second goal in the final minute affects the team:
“I’ll let you know in two weeks. It obviously gives us little boost. A two-goal deficit is easier than a three-goal deficit, so it gives us little bit of a boost to go home and work hard and do the things we need to do. If we’re better defensively and the same offensively, having scored two goals on the road and we know we can score two goals at home as well.”

Real Salt Lake Quotes

Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis
On his overall reaction to the game:
“Bookends, right? The beginning wasn’t good, the end wasn’t good, but the 75 minutes in-between were really good. I credit [Will Johnson] for that fantastic goal. We don’t get goals scored on us like that too often. Our response to that first goal was terrific. Our guys just got better and better as the game wore on and we got back to the things that we do well. I think that one thing is clear, and I think 100 percent certain, that we still have 90 minutes of work to do if we’re going to advance.”

On his team’s mindset following the second Portland goal:
“With the second goal that Portland scored, we can look at that in one of two ways. We can be really disappointed, because we could have gone up there with a three-goal lead and had an easier affair, or we could look at that and say ‘you know what, we just challenged ourselves a bit more, and we’re not going to be able to go up there and just sit back and have a laugh.’ As we’ve seen with what Portland has done at their place recently, they score a lot of goals. We’re not going to be able to go there and defend all night, for sure.”

On why his team is able to score so many goals against a typically-stingy Portland defense:
“I think we both play a similar style, and I think we both like to set the tempo in the match. I think we both want to press, we both want to be aggressive in our play, and that opens up space to counterattack. There’s going to be some nights when our guys are going to finish opportunities, and there’s going to be some nights when we don’t. We typically create a good number [of chances], and there’s going to be some nights when we score a bunch.”

On the long layoff between the two legs of the Western Conference Championship:
“I prefer not to wait two weeks to play the next match. I’d like to continue this week’s momentum because we’ve had similar starts-and-stops this year, and it’s been tough to deal with. It is what it is, and so we’ll just do our best. They’ve got a two-week break as well and so we’ll probably both be dealing with a little bit of rustiness in that match.”

Real Salt Lake forward Robbie Findley
On mentality going into Portland up 4-2:
“We’re up two goals, so we know they’re going to come out firing and pressing. So we gotta be ready for that. I think at some point in the game if we get past halftime 0-0 things will open up. We’ll get opportunities there. It’s a matter of putting them away again.”

Chris Gluck

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.