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Sliding Timbers looking to halt skid as Seattle derby looms

JohnSpencer (Getty)


C.J. Sapong's goal celebration in Saturday's 2-1 Sporting Kansas City win against Portland was nothing Timbers fans hadn't seen before.

Sapong's 15th-minute goal and subsequent stop-and-drop, as if to emulate a falling tree, was one of those numbers others have used at Jeld-Wen Field.

There are more serious soccer matters that are becoming all too familiar in the Rose City these days, and among those are the home side's six-game winless streak that includes five losses. The skid goes hand in hand with the fact that the Timbers (5-8-3) have yet to win a match this season in which their opponent has scored first.

That was the case again on Saturday night against SKC. But Timbers coach John Spencer feels the team can find itself again.

"Guys are on the ropes and we've got to get ourselves back on track," Spencer said. "The quicker we get back to getting the first goal and getting a little bit of confidence through ourselves again, that's what we need. We've got another big game coming up, one on Thursday (friendly vs. Club America), and then one on Sunday against our dearest rivals."

That Sunday match is against the Seattle Sounders at Jeld-Wen Field. If the Timbers do nothing more this season in terms of the playoffs or a good record, beating their rivals and finishing as the best team in Cascadia will still count for something. But that honor comes from wins.

It'll be interesting to see how Portland responds. After all, the Timbers are in a tailspin after a hot start at home where they won five straight.

Glaring mistakes were obvious in Saturday's game. Passes that didn't connect with intended targets or went out of bounds. A bad angle by goalkeeper Troy Perkins that helped Sapong's goal. Defenders being out of position to prevent flicks and headers in the box. Runs by attacking players that went nowhere, and a lack of good looks on goal.

These things happened AFTER Spencer started Eddie Johnson at forward over Kenny Cooper and Steve Purdy at right back for Jeremy Hall against Sporting Kansas City.

The lineup shakeup didn't help much offensively despite a wonder-goal from Darlington Nagbe, whom the team needs more from on the attack.

"I think guys need to continue to have that belief that we've got to continue to fight and continue to work hard for one another, knowing that that's the only thing that's going to get us out of this rut," midfielder Jack Jewsbury said.

Getting out of the rut starts with holding the opponent scoreless early in games. 

"Experience-wise, we've got a lot to learn," Spencer said. "We've got tremendous young players, if you look at the top young players in the league right now, it took them a while to get where they're at right now."


  1. what about the NEW timbers fans? Are they gonna look past the dog years ? Are they gonna re-up after a dismal season? Is it all about the atmosphere to them too?

    Disco died too

  2. I think if you polled the vast majority of Timbers fans they would say the same thing: our expectations for on field success were pretty low. My only goal for this season was to finish above Vancouver and win the Cascadia Cup.

    The Timbers have long excelled in the stands and stunk it up in the pitch. Even in years in which we went on 25 match winning streaks (2009 season) we still found a way to muck it up in the playoffs. Were used to our team coming up with creative ways to break out hearts. Paradoxically, it’s a reason our support is so loyal, loud and passionate.

  3. Right, and no one outside the city of Portland expects them to be anywhere other than where they are. They shouldn’t fire Spencer and they shouldn’t really be that worried about not hacking it this year.

  4. Eh. Nothing new here. Portland doesn’t have the talent to compete in this league yet. They have an incredible home atmosphere, and they benefitted from that and some luck to put together that win streak. But those things don’t last forever, and now Portland isn’t getting results. I’m not sure anybody outside of Portland is surprised.

  5. Settle down Lumberheads?
    The author, Jose Romero, is essentially the Seattle beat writer and “bigprof” is the only comment that needs settling down and I’m not even sure that’s not sarcasm.

  6. Co-incidently enough Seattle was 5-8-3 at this point last year.

    They went on a run and it still is continuing.

    Settle down Lumberheads.

    Seattle will be up there to kick your teams around on Saturday, after that loss you can focus on doing what Seattle did last year.

  7. Right, and there are a few other teams that haven’t won on the road iirc. Its not a bad start for a expansion team, especially one with the lowest payroll in MLS, and one of the youngest teams on MLS.

  8. “The skid goes hand in hand with the fact that the Timbers (5-8-3) have yet to win a match this season in which their opponent has scored first.”

    Not sure those go hand in hand. With MLS goal scoring at a record low this year, hardly any team in the league is ever winning when their opponent scores first.

  9. Is this the MLS stud and European failure Eddie Johnson? If so, I missed the story about him coming back to MLS. Also, the fire Spencer people need to chill. They are an expansion team whose early success blew expectations way out of proportion. As long as they have a better record than Vancouver and beat out a couple other MLS sides. The season will still be a success.

    (SBI-No, it’s not THAT Eddie Johnson.)

  10. Let me say this once again:

    Memo to Bob Bradley:

    Bring Sapong into the USMNT fold — this kid’s got serious skills and the unteachable nose for goal and finishing touch.


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