Timbers set sights on final six home matches

Portland allowing third most goals in MLS

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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PORTLAND — When the Portland Timbers rallied in the second half on July 18 to beat Colorado, it was only their second home win of the season.

Repeating that performance is the goal today, when Chivas USA visits Providence Park for a Major League Soccer match that carries serious playoff ramifications for both teams.

"Obviously we don't want to come from behind like we had to (against Colorado), but I think we played very well on that day," coach Caleb Porter said. "I think we found that right balance between making sure that we're ready to fight, we have a good mentality, we're on edge, but we're also not tense. Be intense. Don't be tense."

Portland is in a tense spot precisely because it hasn't been the dominating team it was last season at home. The goal from here on out is to win each of the six remaining home matches, Porter said.

To do that, Portland will need to buckle down on defense. Its 38 goals allowed is the third most in the league.

Defender Liam Ridgewell has played three games since the Timbers signed him to a designated player contract — not counting Wednesday's fill-in role for the MLS All-Stars. He said the process of learning his teammates is "going very well."

"I've been here a little bit longer now, played a few more games. The only way you can get comfortable with people is going out and playing games, so the more games we get to play with each other, the better it is," Ridgewell said.

Ridgewell said he enjoyed the unexpected chance to play in the all-star game, something they don't have in his native England. He especially enjoyed being on the field, even briefly, with players from Germany's World Cup championship team.

For his part, Porter said he turned his focus to preparing for the match against Chivas as soon as the All-Star Game ended.

The Timbers coach again downplayed the postgame handshake snub from Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola. Porter said the coaches shook hands following the postgame press conference.

"Coaches are coaches. We're all crazy," Porter said. "We lose our heads sometimes, let's be honest."

Porter said the all-star game was not a disruption in preparing to face Chivas. He said that the 45 minutes that Ridgewell, Diego Valeri and Will Johnson played in the All-Star Game were a perfect midweek training session.