Portland Timbers 1-0 Los Angeles Galaxy

The Timbers (12-5-13, 49pts) are in third place in the Western Conference, and, with the win, moved four points ahead of the Galaxy (13-11-6, 45pts) and Colorado Rapids tied for fourth in the conference standings. Portland, unbeaten in its last four games, is currently two points back of first place in the conference.

Portland Timbers Quotes

Timbers head coach Caleb Porter
Thoughts on the match:
“It’s a big step. Obviously, every step is important, but this was a big one. It puts us four points clear of LA and Colorado. Our goal is to not just limp into the playoffs, but to get in a good position, hopefully in the top three, and to avoid the play-in game. From that standpoint, it was a big step. It also was a big step for this club, just moving forward to continue to show that we can beat anybody. That team, they were full strength with their top guys in there. They clearly came to play. They knew what was at stake. They knew the importance of this game. That was reflected in their performance, LA played well. We knew it would be a tight game like most high-level soccer games. When you’ve got two good teams trying to do the same things, press and to some extent push the game, it becomes two alpha dogs butting heads. That’s what it looked like. It was choppy at times, but for me it was very mature out of our guys in the way we managed it. We found a goal. I said at halftime that it might just take one. Either way, fortunately we found the goal and defended well. Our back four was extremely tight in managing their very talented players, [Robbie] Keane and [Landon] Donovan. They had a few shots, but they didn’t have many great looks at all on the day. We didn’t have many as well. We need to do better finding the second goal. We had clear chances to find the second goal that would’ve given us more breathing room. In the end, though, if you can’t find the second goal – similar to Colorado – you’ve got to make sure you don’t give up the goal. We did that and got the win because of it.”

On containing Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane:
“I think we did it with collective defending. When guys were isolated individually, they did well also. Mostly, we were just very organized defensively. I thought we pressed enough in the front of our shape that we didn’t allow them to get a ton of the ball in terms of rhythm and quality actions. Also, in the back part of our team, we didn’t open up much space. Their players, with time and space, they can really hurt you. Our goal was to not give them many gaps and I thought [Diego] Chara and [Will] Johnson chipped in as well, being connected with the back four. Those back six guys really were tight and organized and disciplined and they [Donovan and Keane] didn’t get loose much.”

On the team’s big results late in the season:
“I told the guys, the first thing I said was we’ve still got work to do. I don’t want to take away their joy from this game – you’ve got to let them enjoy it – but we still have work to do. What I like about this group is that they believed they could beat this team and win this game and that’s why when I talked to them after the game, they’re not doing cartwheels. They believe, and maybe we’re the only ones, in that locker room, that really believed. If you look at our body of work over the course of the season, there is no reason why we shouldn’t win this game. That’s a good thing. You can pinch results in soccer, but if you do it against the run or if you do it when you’re not the better team – that ultimately leads to you falling short eventually. This team has a real belief that we can do something special this year.”

On Maximiliano Urruti’s performance:
“He’s a finisher. It’s not just the goal, but the amount of ground he covers in pressing their central defenders. He worked tirelessly the entire night to be a nuisance on their central defenders. That’s huge in this system, when you play a 4-3-3. If you’re going to be a pressing team, you need your No. 9 to put the work in and make it predictable and chop the field, and he did that.”

On how close the team is to being full strength moving forward:
“We’ve still got a few guys that are coming back. Obviously, [Diego] Valeri is still not there, but getting closer. He’s still a little sore, but he’s capable of starting and playing like he did – 75 or 80 minutes. Hopefully, we can get him to a point where he can play 90. We’re getting close and I think you’ve seen that in our recent performances. The reality is, the only reason we started dropping points is because we weren’t healthy. I never made that excuse, but that was a big factor. If you look at any team and you chop off their top four or five guys in MLS when you have to build your roster a certain way because of the cap, you’re not going to be the same team. We had different guys at different times that weren’t in there. You’re not going to be the same team. The nice thing is our guys did a good job and still managed to get some points during that lull. But here we are now near full strength and I think you’ve seen that in the last four games with three wins and a draw.”

On Jack Jewsbury’s impact recently and the back line’s collective play and experience:
“I thought he was great tonight. He was going against a world-class athlete in [Gyasi] Zardes and he didn’t lose much. It’s just because he’s smart. He’s an experienced player, he’s a salty dog and he knows how to get it done some way. Futty [Danso] as well. Futty had a few moments on the ball that scare you, but defensively he was solid. He and [Pa Modou] Kah. It was probably the best game Kah has played, also. Thought he was very good today. And Mikey [Harrington]. Mikey has probably played more minutes than anyone. There’s a lot of experience in that back line. We know we’ll find a goal somewhere, maybe we’ll find one but hopefully it’s more than that, but in the end if we don’t give up goals, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”

On the team’s recovery after turning the ball over:
“We worked a lot all week on our transition. I thought, especially in the back six guys, when the ball turned over – LA is used to opening you up in those four or five seconds after they win the ball. We worked on that all week making sure that when we did lose the ball that we got connected quick and made them play in front of us. We didn’t give them many gaps in between the center backs and outside backs which is typically the space that Keane and Donovan will pull into, and they’ll knife you. We wanted to be real tight in that back four. We needed Chara and Johnson to help at times to plug the hole because those guys look to check and get in those spaces in front of the central defenders as well. We also worked on that all week and I thought it paid off. More than the training, it was the guys getting it done on the day and making plays and executing.”

LA Galaxy Quotes

Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena
Overall thoughts on the match:
“It was a good game. I think given the conditions, both teams played well.”

On the affect of the weather on the match:
“It’s not easy. It’s the same for both teams, so you can’t complain about it.”

On the offside call in second-half stoppage time:
“If the referee is right, more credit to him. We’ve been in a lot of games this year where the plays aren’t even close and they don’t have them right. So, if they had it right, more credit to them.”

Galaxy forward Landon Donovan
On the team’s performance:
“It’s a tough game with the rain, with the turf, and we’re playing against a good team in their stadium. We didn’t create any great chances, but I thought overall we played well. We were a little at fault for not shooting and putting the ball on frame a little bit more, but we certainly had better chances in the game than they did. But we can be better and we know when we play at home we’re better than that. Tonight, I thought we did enough to at least get a point, but unfortunately we let ourselves down.”

On tightening up on set pieces:
“It’s a mentality. Defending set pieces is so a mentality. It’s who wants the ball. Too often, guys have let down in that area. So, either you change who’s marking or people don’t play if they can’t do that. That’s sort of the harsh reality, but that’s how it has to be. We can’t keep giving up goals like that.”

On moving on from the loss:
“We’ll rebound easily. Games like this happen. There’s not many teams that come here and dominate possession, dominate chances, and dominate the game. That being said, we still lost. They had one half-chance all night and they scored a goal. We had a few OK chances and we didn’t get the goal. That’s how soccer is, that’s how the game is. Overall, I think we played well and we’re not overly worried about it.”

On the last four games of the season:
“We have three games in a row now at home and realistically, to put ourselves in a really good position, we need to win all three. We feel like we can win all three, we should win all three, but we can’t keep giving up goals like the one we did today. As the season gets towards the end and gets tighter, those are the plays that matter and we need to make sure that we’re on the positive end of those, not the negative.”