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Portland Timbers Need to Start Strong to Close the Season

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According to Caleb Porter, the Timbers need to come out of the game quickly for the last six games of the season if they want to make the playoffs; anyone who watch Saturday's match against Chivas will have to agree.

William Conwell

The Portland Timbers didn't get back to practice today, instead having a pool workout followed by an hour long team meeting. According to Caleb Porter, one of the topics covered in that meeting was the team's slow start against Chivas and what they need to do to reverse that trend.

"I think it's actually a problem that a lot of teams have, because you don't always start a game feeling that threat, especially when you are playing a team that perhaps, on paper, is inferior," Porter said after the team's meeting today.

Facing off against Chivas USA on Saturday, the Timbers looked lethargic during the first half of play, finally giving up a goal to the Goats in the 32'. The tally marked the twelfth time that the Timbers have given up the first goal this season. In those twelve games, the Timbers have posted a record of 2-5-5, meaning every one of their five losses on the season has come when giving up the first goal. When trailing at the half, the Timbers are 0-3-6.

We're capable of playing at a very high level in terms of how we push the game and the urgency we play with and the pressure and the attacking aggressiveness. You've seen that to start games sometimes. You seen that, certainly, when we've been down goals. You've seen it, but we need to show it. The reality is, we need to show it to start games from here on out and it's going to be a big factor in us performing well enough to get enough points to make the playoffs.

Clearly, Porter is right about the Timbers needing to show their better qualities earlier in the game. When scoring the first goal, the Timbers are 8-0-5.

Other than Chivas USA, the Timbers remaining five opponents, all of whom are in playoff contention, have a combined record of 53-9-15 when scoring first, which averages out to 2.26 points per game. When giving up the first goal, the Timbers' opponents in playoff contention have a combined record of 11-36-13 or 0.76 points per game.

Talking about the team's ability to put opponents under pressure, Porter added, "the reality is, we need to show it to start games from here on out and it's going to be a big factor in us performing well enough to get enough points to make the playoffs."

Asked about how the Timbers can get into that mindset from the start of the game, Porter answered, "that's coaching."