Timbers seek fast start vs. Salt Lake

Portland has fallen behind in each match this season

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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PORTLAND -- The answers were predictable: Improve focus, have the right mentality, set the tone early.

The question is: will the team play well before halftime? It’s one that is already getting old for the Portland Timbers.

Three games into their second Major League Soccer season, the Timbers have fallen behind in each match, and have not played well before halftime, yet.

Their next chance to silence the questioners comes Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field against Real Salt Lake.

“Everyone’s aware of the (poor) starts that we’ve had the last couple of games,” Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said. “Everyone’s said the right things. Now it’s just a matter of going out and doing the right actions. Because you can only say so much. It’s just a matter of going out there and getting the job done.”

Coach John Spencer joked that maybe he should threaten guys with a big stick. But both the coach and the captain said it comes down to individual players responding when it’s time to do their jobs.

“We’re a good team. I think we’re a good team when we play high-tempo and start the game well,” Spencer said. “I think we showed in the second half against Philly and against Dallas what we’re capable of doing. I think we showed it in little glimpses in New England on the road but it was too little, too late.”

Jewsbury said each player has his own way of getting ready on game day.

As a veteran, Jewsbury said he is set in his game-day ways. While the younger Timbers might take a different approach to game day then a veteran, Jewsbury said that should not significantly impact the performance.

“At this level, you’re a professional and you should be able to get yourself geared up for whatever the game,” Jewsbury said.

Jewsbury said the slow starts to the Timbers first three games have not dented the team’s confidence. At the same time, he said he understands that the team’s poor first halves have raised questions.

“Everyone wants to put the focus right now on the start of games, and that’s to be expected,” Jewsbury said. “Hopefully, we can kind of end all that (Saturday).”