Opponents now making Timbers pay for miscues

Coach: Winless streak not because team playing worse

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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Their confidence has taken a hit, but — with the exception of the July 25 loss at FC Dallas — there isn’t a significant gulf between the soccer the Portland Timbers have been playing during their six-match winless streak and the soccer they were playing when they won their first five MLS home games.

“We’re getting punished right now for individual errors that we didn’t get punished for at the start of the year,” Timbers coach John Spencer said. “I don’t think we’re getting cut apart by great play.”

Perhaps tonight’s exhibition match at Jeld-Wen Field against storied Club America can produce some needed fun at Jeld-Wen Field. Spencer will send out a team of reserves and a trialist or two, because the focus this week is squarely on Sunday’s visit from Seattle Sounders FC.

Goalkeeper Troy Perkins, one of the veterans on this young roster, called the Sounders match a changing point in this season.

“If we can win, or get a good result, or just a good match overall, things really can turn around for us,” Perkins said of the Sounders match. “In saying that, it it’s not a good result, we can’t hang our heads and dwell on it. It’s a chance for us to get ourselves out of a hole.”

Perkins, an intense guy, echoed Spencer’s observation that opponents seem to be making the Timbers pay for every mistake.

“I’m not sleeping. I can’t live like this. I hate it,” Perkins said. “I know John (Spencer) is the same way. He hates giving up goals, so for us, we’re just going to take care of that. If we score goals, great. (But) we’re not going to give up any.”

Perkins said he has plenty of confidence in the players in front of him, and that the youth of the squad is not a reason to accept little breakdowns that lead to big trouble.

“Confidence has a little bit to do with it,” Perkins said. “But, we’re pros. We’ve got to be able to maintain our confidence whether we’re down or not. We’ll get ourselves back up.”

Notes

Left back Rodney Wallace (knee bruise) and forward Jorge Perlaza (groin) both missed practice Tuesday and Wednesday. Wallace’s status for Sunday’s Seattle match is uncertain.