BY MIKE DONOVAN
BEAVERTON, Ore.- While other MLS teams combined for a show-stopping weekend with late-game heroics, the Portland Timbers were hanging out with their families and taking a break from the action.
And while head coach Caleb Porter said he spent his weekend “watching tape,” his players spent the weekend relaxing after playing six matches in 18 days.
“It’s important that you do take the time with this long season to recharge your batteries, mentally and physically. We gave the guys Saturday and Sunday off,” Porter said. “Hopefully they got away from the game, escaped, spent some time with the family, lived a normal life for two days.”
The bye week coincided with the exact midway point of the club’s season, but Porter is not reflecting on the accomplishments that the team has already achieved. Despite being in the midst of a 15-game unbeaten run in the league and 18-game unbeaten run in all competitions, the Timbers are looking ahead.
“We got 30 points in the first 17 games, if we only get nine points in the next 17 games, then we are falling short,” Porter said. “These guys aren’t satisfied and they are nowhere near complacent or casual or relaxed because they understand that we’re just putting ourself in a position to accomplish our goals.”
The second half of the season begins with a four-game stretch that includes three away matches and a game against the defending champion LA Galaxy. The Galaxy currently sit in the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot, one point ahead of the Colorado Rapids.
Porter has no intention of joining the Galaxy or Rapids in the dogfight for the final playoff spot.
“We’re going to keep chasing the top, we’re not going to chase the red line,” Porter said. “We have some teams breathing down our necks and we can’t let them pass us by.”
NEW SIGNING IS A “PHYSICAL SPECIMEN”
Before heading into their off weekend, the Timbers announced the signing of Jamaica’s Alvas Powell on loan from Portmore United. Powell, who has five caps for the Jamaica’s team, is just 18 years old and will join Portland once his paperwork is finalized.
To make room for Powell on the roster, the club released Mobi Fehr. Fehr made zero appearances with Portland after being acquired in a weighted lottery.
“We just looked at it as a no brainer. If we can get the chance to get a stud, young, 18-year-old kid that has already played international soccer and is a physical specimen, for us, it was just a really great addition,” Porter said.
Powell played in the U-17 World Cup in 2011 and most recently played for the Reggae Boyz in their three most recent World Cup qualifiers. He made his professional debut with Portmore United in 2012.
“I’m excited to get him this young because in terms of his physical qualities, he’s got it, everything you want. And we have a chance now to shape him tactically, psychologically. I’m real excited to have the chance to really develop him and bring him along.”
Powell will likely play outside back for the club, but could also develop into a centerback.
“He’s a player for the future for us. Whether or not, he plays this year will depend on how he does and how the players ahead of him do. If he’s good enough to start great, but he has to beat out some very good players,” Porter said.
TEAM READIES FOR WEDNESDAY FRIENDLY
The Timbers will take on Monarcas Morelia of Liga MX on Wednesday night at Jeld-Wen Field. The match is being dubbed the “Copa Verde” by the clubs and will raise money for Mexican Consulate of Portland and their educational, health, and develop programs.
While the friendly doesn’t have the same priority for Porter as league matches do, he understands that the match will be important for both the club and its supporters
“The priority is the league, those games count. But we do want to put on a show for our fans,” Porter said. “We have paying fans that are going to be coming to that game to watch our team and I think we will give them a taste of some of our talent.”
The game will feature a mix of starters and reserves, but Porter said the match will definitely showcase some of club’s younger players. One of those players will be 20-year-old Jose Adolfo Valencia.
Valencia, who has one league goal this season in six appearances, flew home to his native Colombia last week to be with his mother, who was undergoing surgery. Porter said after Monday’s practice that Valencia will be back in Portland in time to take on Morelia.