By MIKE DONOVAN
The Portland Timbers are five weeks into the 2013 season and the team is still searching for its first victory. Not only has the club not been able to secure victory, but they are one of two MLS clubs that hasn’t held a lead yet this season.
While the team has conceded first in every match in 2013, head coach Caleb Porter is confident that Portland won’t be lacking first goals and victories for long.
“I think it’s just getting that first goal, which we haven’t gotten, and getting that first win and I think this whole thing will start to snowball,” said Porter. “These guys know we are on the cusp of a breakthrough, they’re not happy but they are very upbeat and we’re encouraged, it’s going to come.”
Conceding first is a new concept for Porter. Last year, in his final season with Akron, the Zips only had one match in which they conceded the first goal.
Despite having gone behind in every match this season, Timbers captain Will Johnson has been happy with the team’s attitude so far this season.
“We don’t want to put ourselves in that situation every week but its nice to be able to prove that we are a team that’s not just going to say that we’ll never quit, but we’ve actually proven that we are not going to do that and we will have to continue to take that mentality into every game,” Johnson said.
While Porter believes that change is coming, he is still unsure of why the Timbers played subpar for the majority of the Colorado match.
“We do have to look at the performance and figure out why we didn’t play well. Was it personal? Was it system? Was it gameplan? Was it the conditions?” said Porter. “Those are all thing the we’ll consider and look at this week. That will be the basis of our decisions going into our next game. Do we make changes or don’t we?”
JOHNSON GETS ACCOLADES
Following his brace against Colorado, Johnson received MLS Player of the Week honors by the North American Soccer Reporters. Johnson joins Kalif Alhassan as the only Timbers to have won the honor.
“Its good, obviously, I would have traded that for three points. I think in the big picture its not a huge thing, I’m more concerned about winning with this team and us making steps forward, but at the same time, its always nice to pick up little honors along the way,” Johnson said.
It is the first time in Johnson’s career that he has the MLS’s Player of the Week honors. Having arrived in Portland after an offseason trade from Real Salt Lake, Johnson has already made his presence felt. He is one of just four Timbers who has played every minute this season and leads the team in goals.
While Johnson was the only player to have multiple goals for the week, Porter was also impressed by his overall match.
“A big part of us coming back was his ability to win balls and create a bit of an intensity and mentality in the midfield,” Porter said.
SILVESTRE INJURED, HORST RETURNS
One surprise in the Timbers lineup against the Rapids was the exclusion of Mikael Silvestre. The team then announced the former Manchester United player had suffered an adductor strain in training. Despite missing Saturday’s match, Silvestre is now considered day-to-day.
With Silvestre out of the lineup, David Horst saw his first action of the season. Horst started the last 15 matches of the 2012 season, but suffered a hip injury during the Timbers preseason. Forced into the lineup by Silvestre’s injury, Horst was glad to return to the pitch.
“It took me a little bit to get my feet under me and back in the mode of playing games. I’ve pretty much been away for two months, not playing at all. I’ve only been back playing 8-10 days or so,” Horst said. “To get thrown back in like that, I was a little nervous at first, but the back four got me settled down, and I got into a groove again.”
Saturday might mark the first time this season that Porter will have a fully healthy Horst, Silvestre, and Andrew Jean-Baptiste to choose from to start at the two centerback spots.