As the Timbers limp home from a rather fugly loss at Montreal over the weekend, their biggest backers are getting a bit warm under the collar.
For the first time in Portland's MLS era, coach John Spencer is feeling the heat from fans and media alike, as a team that's dropped five of six seems unable to shake (or even improve upon) its biggest flaws. With fans (and ownership) seeking answers, a few logs were added to the fire earlier this week when The O dropped a piece outlining the pressures of playing in Portland.
Spencer called Portland "a very difficult place to play," adding "fans think that just because you have a world-class atmosphere, you're supposed to have a world-class team. But it takes time to build a quality team."
Keeper Troy Perkins—nursing a gash suffered from a scary cleat-to-the-face collision last week—reminisced about being booed off the field while playing for DC and realizing that, in the end, fans' hand-wringing "doesn't matter." Lovel Palmer—who's struggled to find his best form this season while Spencer has stayed loyal to him starting—agreed: "You have to block (the fans' negativity) and everything else out," he told Geoffrey C. Arnold.
Now, knowing that sports writers ask questions and, for the most part, athletes do their best to answer them, I didn't view the players' comments as outright excuse-making. In fact, I bet if you asked most anyone in the Timbers locker room why they've struggled to get things going this year, "the pressure of playing in Portland" wouldn't make the list.
Still, Timbers Army blogger Chris Rifer echoed fans' frustrations that players would even entertain feeling bad for themselves, and in his latest "Morrison Report," Rifer gives great insight (and an adorable Disney reference!) into the fan's mindset while the team's mental state remains fragile:
I’m tired of the pity party. I’m tired of something bad happening and the team going Eeyore on us.
All it takes is a quick glance at the Timbers scarf to know how they feel about pity. Oh, and speaking of TA threads, click past the jump for a slick video of the No Pity Van's latest offerings.