Portland Timbers midfielder James Marcelin substituted into Wednesday night's match against the San Jose Earthquakes for Diego Chara in the 83rd minute. It was only the second time Marcelin has seen the pitch in the last six MLS matches. Marcelin played seven minutes against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Aug. 20.

After the 1-1 draw with San Jose at Jeld-Wen Field, the Haitian-born Marcelin appeared somber about playing only 14 minutes in the last 6 1/2 weeks.

'You have to keep working hard in practice to prove yourself,' he said. 'But for me, I think I prove myself a lot in practice. I deserve to play. But I never say anything, (like) 'I want to play.' I never show people like I'm mad or something. Everybody on the field want to play for the team. But I don't get enough minute(s). That's it.'

Marcelin has played a fair amount this season, appearing in 17 matches with nine starts. Now that he has fallen out of favor with the Timbers coaches, he says that he does not have enough time in a match to make an impact.

'I can say that it is not about good enough,' Marcelin said. 'I know I'm a better player. But in two minute(s), if you touch the ball like two times you just have to do something positive with it. But if you don't get enough minute(s), then you will never touch the ball. In two minute(s), the team pass the ball and you don't even touch it, so there's nothing about it you can do anything.'

Marcelin said that he has been able to remain positive. But when he talked about what makes him feel that way, he did not point to the Timbers, he pointed to playing for the Haiti national team in the World Cup qualifiers.

'I'm positive,' Marcelin said. ' I've got World Cup qualifier coming up, so I'm positive. I'm always positive about myself.'

• After much tinkering throughout the season, the Timbers finally have found a striking combination that works, featuring Kenny Cooper and Darlington Nagbe. The two have combined for three goals in the past two matches.

'The two of them held the ball up well,' Timbers coach John Spencer said after Wednesday's draw. 'Their movement was good, and they linked up very well together.'

The strikers seem to like playing with each other a lot, as well. Each player speaks the world of the other.

'Darlington is a great talent, and I'm sure a lot of players would enjoy playing with him,' Cooper said.

'You don't find a lot of big guys who have good feet like he does,' Nagbe said, of Cooper. 'He's a big guy up top, and he has solid feet and he can hold the ball well and he has a tremendous shot. As long as I can get him the ball he can get a shot, so I'm happy about that.'

•• Nagbe has enjoyed playing striker the last two matches, after being placed in the midfield for most of the season.

'I'm liking it a lot,' Nagbe said. 'It's a new role for me this season with the Timbers, but I'm liking it a lot. Hopefully I keep playing up there.'

••• Cooper has been helping Nagbe with the mental side of the game.

'He's a veteran, so he helps me out a lot, talks me through things,' Nagbe said. 'Just lets me know to stay confident at all times, even if we're not getting the ball as much as we'd like.'

•••• Cooper's sixth goal of the season and second goal in two matches may point to a flood gate of goals that has opened up for him after a 20- match drought.

"Certainly with these last two games, my hope and goal is to contribute to this team,' he said. 'It feels good when you score yourself. It feels good when the team scores, and I was fortunate to get one tonight  Whether it's yourself or your teammates, it's one of the best moments in a game.'

A former striker, Spencer said that Cooper's goal should give him a mental edge going forward.

'Kenny gets another goal tonight, which is good for him,' Spencer said. 'Good for his confidence.

••••• While he was a goalkeeper for the NASL Dallas Tornado, Cooper's father, Kenny Cooper Sr., was a roommate of American soccer legend Kyle Rote Jr.. Rote is now a sports agent. Though Rote does not represent Cooper Jr., the Timbers striker thinks very highly of him.

'What a guy,' Cooper said. 'Holy cow. (A player) is in good hands if he's with him.'

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