Portland Timbers Training Quotes & Notes: "A More Mature, Experienced Group"

John Spencer is proud of his team's growth and maturity over the past year.

Monday's training was optional for players who played more than 45 minutes on Saturday, so those players did not participate in the regular training. Rodney Wallace and Kalif Alhassan ran laps around the field. Kris Boyd joined Wallace later on, and they kicked the ball around.

The rest of the boys, plus Spencer and assistants Cameron Knowles and Amos Magee, played a half field scrimmage. Among the other notable names participating in the scrimmage: Steve Purdy, Franck Songo'o and Sal Zizzo, all of whom looked in decent shape. Songo'o and Zizzo even scored a couple.

On the subject of Songo'o, Spencer said he looked good, but suggested they were taking their time with him. "Hopefully he's in contention for a place on the bench this weekend," said Spencer.

Darlington Nagbe and Jorge Perlaza both participated as well, so with every healthy striker on the team besides Kris Boyd participating, we were treated to a lot of goals. Perlaza scored a couple, Nagbe scored quite a few, as did Sebastian Rincon. Bright Dike might have scored more than everyone else combined.

Nagbe looked particularly sharp, even combining at one point with Spenny via a series of one-touch passes, before putting one in the back of the net. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Nagbe makes his teammates, no matter who they are, even if they're 41-year-old coaches, look like great footballers.

John Spencer Quotes

General thoughts on the match

I felt that they [FC Dallas] started very positive and put us on the back foot. We made a couple of bad decisions and gave corners away and throw-ins away, and kept us about 30 yards from goal for the first six minutes of the game. And I think they continued to dominate. I think we gave up a goal that could have been avoided. And then -- the last ten minutes of the first half -- from there I think we dominated and controlled the game, controlled possession, and played most of the game in their half. We were probably unfortunate not to win the game.

What changes did the team make to improve?

We started running beyond a little bit. I felt like we'd tried to play a little bit similar to the way New York played in front of Dallas last week, just play in front of their back four all the time. And, too many passes -- too many short passes. I think once we started switching the ball and getting it out wide to our wide players, then we started causing problems.

As I say, I think we had another handball in the box off Jacobson -- should have been a PK in the first half, we had Eric Alexander's header that I thought he should have scored from, and Lovel Palmer's one off the post. And that was us, in the first half in first gear. I think once we started to play with real tempo in the second half, I think we proved we were the better team, in that game.

On going down by a goal in each of the first two matches

I think that's a situation that we're finding ourselves in, is when we're not starting the way we should start a game, and we go a goal down. I think the good thing about it is, we're showing character to come back. I think last year, I said to the guys after the game, we may have lost that game or struggled to come back into it.

I think actually we're unbeaten in five on the road [actually just their last four road matches], in some good places -- that's what some people forget sometimes. And as I say, the road form that we began the last year was totally different than what it was at the tail end of last year and hopefully the start of this season.

I think if you look at the two games, if you'd have taken four points from six, a home game against Philly -- which was one of the best defenses in the league last year -- as I say a home game against them, and a road game against Dallas. Two teams that contested for the playoffs this year. We took four points from six -- and unbeaten -- I think we'd have taken it.

On the game Hanyer Mosquera and Eric Brunner played

I think once we got the grips for the game, they couldn't get out, they tended to play it long, knock the ball into our half. Against Perez, I thought our two guys dominated him after the first twenty minutes of the game, got used to his style of play.

There was a point in the game where I felt we could have got the second one, I think Jacobson blocked a header from Eric Brunner, which was a tremendous block because Eric Brunner actually got a step on him, and he threw his body right in front of it, and the ball rebounded off his head and went out for another corner. So as I said I thought it was a good performance from him.

On why I really should have rephrased my question about the fact that they've played consistently well for the full 90 minutes in these first two games of the season. You know, better than ...

You keep mentioning this last year thing. The last year thing is in the past. I keep telling you -- that was the first half of the season last year. You know, we're a more mature, experienced group now.

We've been to DC and, you know, run them into the ground at times, and it became -- you know, for sixty, seventy minutes we played ever so well, and then it became just us trying to win the game to keep us in the playoff hunt and leaving ourselves exposed at the back, just to gamble.

And then we went to Salt Lake and contained one of the best teams in the country over the last three years, for probably two shots on goal [actually just one -- even better] over 90 minutes, tied the game 1-1, missed a penalty in the game, could have won it 2-1.

So as I say, you keep hashing back to things that aren't there anymore. Hopefully they aren't there anymore. I don't think that they are. I think we're more mature as a group.

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