TIMBERS NOTES: Spencer praises Colombia duo; no corner kicks a first; lineup changes help Portland down 'Caps
As music video aficionados know, Colombian pop princess Shakira's hips don't lie. On Saturday night, the boots of Colombia's Diego Chara and Jorge Perlaza didn't lie, either. Perlaza sent off a pass that set up Chara's first MLS goal and then scored a goal himself in the first half, as the Portland Timbers beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 at Jeld-Wen Field.
The gorgeous rhythm the two showcased Saturday was the result of playing with each other for many years in Colombia.
'It's come from a long time of playing together,' Chara said, through a translator. 'We've been together on several teams, and you can see that on the field. I already know where to put the ball (for Perlaza).'
Timbers coach John Spencer was especially impressed by Chara's play.
'Diego Chara was fantastic,' Spencer said. 'No disrespect, he looked like a man among boys tonight. In my humble opinion, he looked like a Premier League player tonight.'
The connection the two exhibited could be a sign of things to come.
'We've known each other for a long time,' Perlaza said, through a translator. 'And little by little we've been importing what we know we could bring to the team and getting into the scheme of the team.'
• Against the Whitecaps, the Timbers began by defending the goal at the south end of the pitch and attacking the goal on the north end in front of the Timbers Army. The Timbers have mixed up which goal they defend first throughout the season. Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury explained that there is no real rhyme or reason to the decision if the Timbers win the coin flip before the match.
'(Goalkeeper) Troy (Perkins) and I kind of talk every day, and he decided he wanted that side tonight,' Jewsbury said. 'We won the coin flip and went with it. No real method to our madness. It worked out tonight.'
•• The Timbers finished the match without a corner kick for the first time all season. Portland has been one of the most dangerous sides in the league off of corner kicks this season. So, does winning a match without one mean the Timbers would be happy to play the rest of the season without a corner kick?
Not really. Spencer used this analogy: 'Sometimes I go without kissing my wife for a day, but that doesn't mean she doesn't love me, right?'
••• Even without taking his usual number of corner kicks, Jewsbury still made his presence felt on dead balls. His free kick from 25 yards in the 33rd minute set up Perlaza's goal.
'Each game kind of creates its own story,' Jewsbury said. 'We end up scoring off a set piece on the second goal. It's good to get back on track on those. It's been a few games since we've gotten one on a free kick. I just wanted to put it in a good spot. It falls to Jorge, and he does a great job putting the ball in the back of the net.'
•••• In the run of play, Jewsbury looked a little sluggish as he battled both the fatigue of playing three matches in a week and a hamstring injury. The midfielder said he is close to being completely healthy, though.
'The hamstring is feeling better each game,' Jewsbury said. 'After the Houston game (on August 14), that's probably the most sore it's been. But it's been pretty good as of late.'
••••• The Timbers made two surprising lineup decisions Saturday night. Portland started Mamadou 'Futty' Danso in place of Eric Brunner, and Kalif Alhassan in place of Darlington Nagbe.
'We've played a lot of games recently, and obviously the results didn't go (our) way,' Spencer said. 'I just felt like Darlington was getting a little bit heavy legged. You ask players and they'll never ever say it to you because everyone wants to play. We just thought that after those two games it was time to bring Kalif back in.'
Nagbe admitted that he was disappointed not to be starting. He did feel that the time off was 'good rest,' though.
'You never want to sit out a game,' Nagbe said. 'But if it's better for me, then it's better for me. Hopefully I feel fresher.'
Spencer did not say whether he plans to keep Nagbe on the bench as the Timbers head into two more matches next week. Nagbe anticipates that move, though.
'We'll keep this same lineup because we won,' Nagbe said. 'I don't see why we (wouldn't use the same lineup). It's up to the coach, so we'll see where he (goes) from here. But hopefully I'll work my way back into the lineup.'
•••••• As for Brunner, the defender did find his way onto the pitch in the 76th minute when 'Futty' left the match with a right hamstring injury.
Brunner had left the locker room by the time members of the media left Spencer's post-match press conference.
'Futty' was not sure of the extent of his injury.
'It's my hamstring,' he said. 'They haven't diagnosed me. But I'm going to go in tomorrow and check it. It might be just a minor tear or just a little pull.'
••••••• Striker Bright Dike is fast working his way toward more playing time after coming back from the ruptured Achilles' tendon he suffered in the preseason. After scoring his first goal of the season as a substitute in the Timbers' Wednesday match against Sporting Kansas City, Dike played 21 minutes Saturday.
'I'm feeling great,' Dike said. 'I'm just feeling more and more comfortable, and I'm loving it and enjoying every little bit of it.'
With each match, Dike is becoming faster on his runs. He also seems more able to sustain his energy level as the minutes pile up.
'I'm starting to feel better and better for sure,' he said. 'Getting right. Getting fast runs in and sprints in and still not feeling too winded. It's good. Just more and more game time is helping.'