Timbers notes: Another unbeaten month, Jewsbury solidifies RB position, and more

WillJohnson1 (PortlandTimbers)

By MIKE DONOVAN

PORTLAND, Ore.- Heading into the month of September, the Portland Timbers found themselves fighting for their playoff lives. For the first time in 2013, the club was coming off consecutive losses with the second being a 4-2 defeat at Real Salt Lake that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated.

But August seems like a season ago as the Timbers tallied three wins and a draw in September, which leaves the club just two points behind co-conference leaders, RSL and Seattle. The latest victory came Sunday with a 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy. While the beginning of September the focus was to solidify their playoff chances, the club has seemed to move onto a bigger goal.

“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,” Porter said.

September was the fourth time this season that the Timbers went a full calendar month without a loss, joining April, May, and June. However, September’s matches took on more meaning with the end of the regular season just around the corner. Victories over fellow playoff contenders Colorado and LA have also reinvigorated a side after a tough August.

“It was a big step for this club, just moving forward to continue to show that we can beat anybody,” Porter said.

The undefeated September puts the Timbers with 49 points, which places them in third-place in the Western Conference and five points clear of the sixth-place San Jose Earthquakes, who have played one more match than the Timbers. Portland will have to battle to continue its positive form with its next three matches being against Vancouver, Seattle, and RSL, before finishing the season with Chivas USA.

Portland has been able to get results from its Western Conference foes and has just three losses in 20 matches against Western Conference opponents. If the Timbers are able to continue both their September and conference success, it bodes well for Jeld-Wen Field hosting a MLS playoff game for the first time.

“I think we are in a very good position. We have four more matches,” midfielder Diego Valeri said. “We must think in the top three, and I think we can do it.”

JEWSBURY DELIVERS AGAIN

For the second consecutive match, Jack Jewsbury was in the starting lineup at rightback and, once again, the 11-year veteran helped the Timbers shut out an opponent. This time, Jewsbury came up big defending the speedy rookie Gyasi Zardes and helping his fellow defenders hold Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane to just one combined shot.

“He was going against a world-class athlete in Zardes and he didn’t lose much. It’s just because he’s smart,” Porter said. “He’s an experienced player, he’s a salty dog and he knows how to get it done some way.”

Jewsbury was an all-star in his first season with Portland in 2011 as an attacking midfielder, but these days, the 32-year-old is found on the right side of the Timbers defense. While he occasionally ventures forward to help in the attack, Jewsbury tends to stay back in defense more than his left-sided counterpart, Michael Harrington.

The Saint Louis University product spent his first eight seasons with Kansas City and has found new life under Porter.

“I’ve been around the block a few times,” Jewsbury said. “These coaches and this staff have given all the guys who step on the field the most confidence possible. We realize in these situations we’re going to be fine.”

FINALLY FIT

One reason for the club’s improvement from July and August has been how the club has been able to get some injured players back on the field. Four starters on Sunday (Jewsbury, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri, and Futty Danso) have returned after bouts with injuries in recent weeks.

“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,” Porter said. “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.”

Johnson’s return in the central midfield gives the club a MLS all-star, who when combined with Diego Chara, provide two box-to-box midfielders who can control the game through the middle of the field. Danso, meanwhile, is the longest-tenured Timber and has a provided veteran leadership at the back. In Danso’s 1000 minutes of play this season, Portland has conceded just seven goals.

“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,” Porter said.

This entry was posted in Major League Soccer, MLS- Portland Timbers. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Timbers notes: Another unbeaten month, Jewsbury solidifies RB position, and more

  1. Peter says:

    You attribute the “salty dog” quote to Jewsbury instead of Porter.

  2. Adi from Oregon says:

    My grades for the Timbers & the latest BIG victory over LA:
    A+ for the Timbers’ fans & Army for their CONTINUOUS and FANTASTIC VOCAL sold-out stadium support since the very first MLS game in 2011;
    A for the coach & Timbers’ team passing, pressure & strategy;
    A for excellent midfield play;
    B for the forwards against LA since they missed one or two excellent chances;
    B for defense because 2 glaring mistakes by Futty against LA & don’t know if Jewsbury is fast enough for the play-off games;
    C/D for the synthetic turf even though it is supposed to be the one of the best;
    D for the lousy rainy weather in late fall in Portland (or in Seattle/Vancouver).

    • mcm says:

      Weather was beautiful. Couldn’t have asked for better.

      2 shots for landy and robby = B? tough scale.

      Compared to some of the crappy grass fields in the MLS timbers turf isn’t bad. But compared to european fields it is way below par.

      • Adi from Oregon says:

        Well, you must live in one of the wetter states like Oregon to enjoy the wild rainy storm during this game. But for fans (unless you like to sweat in rain gear) or even players trying to play on wet surfaces or with a wet ball it is not the best circumstance. You have a point about keeping the 2 LA hotshots under control but my B still stands because of what I mentioned.

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      You sure you are Adi from Oregon ? Portland ? maybe you are Eastern OR. ?

      My soccer teams loved the rain for the games Saturday, a welcome break from the scorching 75-80 degree days we have been practicing in this summer.

      • Adi from Oregon says:

        Yes, I live just south of Portland and have played and watched the original Timbers in all kinds of very warm or rainy conditions. Still prefer dry conditions plus it eliminates the lucky chance for weaker teams to score in rainy conditions.

  3. Isaac says:

    Sooo… Jack Jewsbury for USMNT right back, anyone?

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      A few years ago, I would have said yes.
      I think our problem is we have too many borderline starter guys like Jewsbury…just about everyone they have tried so far….And not enough next level guys.

  4. Dos says:

    Not a Portland supporter –

    Will Johnson most underrated player in MLS.

    If I am wrong – why am I wrong and who is?

    (I am not wrong)