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News / Clark County News

Timbers hope their ‘good vibe’ continues

Victory today over Chivas USA would put Portland in the MLS playoff picture

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published: August 23, 2011, 5:00pm

PORTLAND — It’s their fourth game in 11 days, but the Portland Timbers have a bit of spring in their step heading into Wednesday’s critical match against Chivas USA at Jeld-Wen Field.

The weekend’s success against Vancouver Whitecaps FC did wonders for the Timbers psyche in the middle of this challenging stretch of games.

Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said that Saturday’s 2-1 win, followed on Sunday by a late rally for a 3-2 Reserve League win as more than 10,000 fans watched, lifted the spirits of the entire team.

“It’s just a good vibe right now amongst the team,” Jewsbury said. “We’re focused. We’re ready, and we’re looking for a big win.”

A win over Chivas would, indeed, be big. A victory would put the Timbers into a tie with New York for the final spot in the playoffs with nine games left.

Among the players who figure to play a prominent role if Portland makes a playoff run is Sal Zizzo. The wide midfield player spent the second half of last season with Chivas, playing in 10 matches.

The 24-year-old battled injuries early in this season with Portland but has started the last six games. He has three assists in that span and his speed has forced opponents to account for his skill set.

“I feel like I’m getting more and more comfortable every game,” Zizzo said. “But never too comfortable. You’ve got to perform every game.”

Zizzo said one of the challenges since joining the starting lineup has been learning — with vocal reminders from coach John Spencer — when to hold back and contribute to the defensive side of the game.

In the last 20 minutes of matches, Zizzo said, “It’s less about how skillful you are and fast you are, but more about your heart and organization and positioning.”

Zizzo said his job is made easier by the efforts of center midfielders Diego Chara and Jewsbury. The Colombian Chara has been perhaps the team’s best player of late. Whether Chara is pushing forward or tracking back to disrupt opponents, his energy level seems to infuse his teammates with enthusiasm.

“Diego is great,” Sizzo said. “Whenever we can control the midfield in the center, it will translate to us being able to get the ball out wide.”

More seats available

The Timbers announced on Tuesday that they will sell additional tickets to their home games on Sept. 16 against New England and on Oct. 14 against Houston. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster outlets or at Jeld-Wen Field box office. The additional seats will be in the upper rows at the north end of the stadium in sections 201-211, most of those above the Timbers Army sections.

The Timbers limited capacity to 18,627 in the first 13 home games, concerned that a larger crowd would overcrowd the concourse. These two games are a test of the stadium’s ability to comfortably handle more fans without backups in lines and in the concourse.

Vancouver resident wins

Brent Diskin, who lives in Vancouver, created one of two winning designs for the Timbers captain’s armband. Holly Duthie designed the armband that captain Jack Jewsbury will wear with green uniforms, beginning Wednesday. Diskin’s design — a red rose with a background of white sun rays on a black band — will be worn with the red uniforms and will debut in Saturday’s match at D.C. United.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter