Club America fans make noise
The Portland Timbers have lost at home before, but what was notable about Thursday's 1-0 defeat by Club America was that the Timbers Army was 'outplayed, as well.'
While the Timbers' fan club still filled up the north end of Jeld-Wen Field, its usual songs and chants were missing - and supporters of the opposing team made most of the noise throughout the match.
'It was a little different,' Timbers defender Kevin Goldthwaite said. 'It was almost a home/away game. It was interesting, it was fun, it was a loud atmosphere, and it was something special.'
Club America started strong and scored in the 16th minute.
'You're not getting the support you usually get, so it was a little bit of a battle to start out with,' Goldthwaite said.
One side of the stadium was packed with Club America fans, and the largely Hispanic crowd was extremely demonstrative. Bugles, drums and noisemakers filled the air. Each time Timbers goalkeepers Adin Brown and Jake Gleeson took a goal kick, the crowd shouted a derogatory Spanish word, according to one Mexican reporter.
A smoke bomb was released in the third minute of the match. Goldthwaite said the wind did not carry the awful smell down to the pitch.
A security officer moved to the ramparts leading to the press box to monitor the crowd from above - the first time this season the security team has taken such measures.
Long after the match, Spanish chants could be heard outside the stadium.
• Rodrigo Lopez, the Timbers' only player from Mexico, was happy to play a full 90 minutes.
'The Hispanic community was here, and I wanted to show them that I'm still here and working hard every day to keep playing,' he said.
Lopez, who competed against Club America's youth academy side when he played for Chivas de Guadalajara's youth academy, admitted the match against Club America was special for him.
'I have that history of playing against them when I was younger with Chivas,' Lopez said. 'I knew one of their players, and he recognized me from home. It was just always a hard-fought battle and today was one of them, as well.'
•• The Timbers' backline featured two trialists - central defender Aleksandar Ignjatovic and right fullback John Thompson.
Portland coach John Spencer preferred not to comment on their play.
'I'd rather speak to them about that,' he said. 'I don't want to comment about their futures in the press before they hear it face to face.'
Goldthwaite praised the two, though.
'They did pretty well,' he said. 'It was a bit difficult, because we've only had maybe three days of training with both of them, but they performed very, very well.'
••• With perhaps the most meaningful match of the season set for 1 p.m. Sunday at home against the Seattle Sounders, it was not surprising that the Timbers used their reserves against Club America. Spencer said he was very pleased with how those players have developed since the May 25 match against Dutch side AFC Ajax.
'The difference in performances, confidence-wise, from the Ajax game to tonight was night and day really,' Spencer said. 'Young guys, inexperienced guys, getting an opportunity to play against the biggest club in Mexico - it was a great experience for them.'
•••• The Timbers used striker Kenny Cooper and midfielder Sal Zizzo liberally Thursday night. Cooper played 68 minutes, and Zizzo played 71.
Cooper was relegated to the bench last week in favor of Eddie Johnson. Zizzo has been a steady feature in MLS matches, replacing rookie midfielder Darlington Nagbe in the second half of most games, when Nagbe tires.
Spencer said he does not expect the minutes played Thursday to affect Cooper and Zizzo's ability to perform against the Sounders.
'They should be in the prime of their life,' Spencer said. 'They only played (about) 65 minutes, and they didn't play as many minutes as we wanted or they wanted (last weekend). It's just a case of getting the minutes under their belt so they stay ready for the game when called on.'
••••• With the loss Thursday, the Timbers are winless in their last seven matches, including six games without a victory in MLS.
'It's good that we got the chance to rest some guys that we're going to feature in the Seattle game,' Spencer said. 'It was good that we got a look at guys that haven't been playing regularly.'