It's pretty well established that disliking Canadians can be difficult.
You want to—especially tonight, when the Timbers welcome the Montreal Impact to The Jelly for a 7:30 kick—but it's no easy task. Canadians (or, more specifically to Quebec, Canadiens) are such a friendly sort; they season our steaks something fierce, they gave us Leonard Cohen, and just last week, they delivered Soccer City, USA the gift of a Seattle loss.
And they're tickled pink to be in the Rose City for the first time as an MLS side, having trained in Portland all week following their win at the CLink.
"Playing in front of good crowds like this one," said Montreal captain Davy Arnaud, "is always fun and easy to get up for."
So friendly! And, of course, familiar: Former PTFC keeper Troy Perkins returns to J-WF, still a bit bent about being unceremoniously shown the door and dubbed the wrong end of an "upgrade." Since the great goalie swap of Aug. 2012, it's clear each side has improved for the better—and what would've been a snoozer of a matchup a year ago is perhaps the most intriguing tilt of the MLS schedule this week.
*UPDATE!* Montreal's defense hunkered down and held off the Timbers 2-1, despite being walloped in nearly every offensive category.
"The moral victories around here are getting a little old—everybody realizes that," said Timbers captain Will Johnson after Portland out-shot (19-9) and out-possessed (63%-37%) the Impact but couldn't rally from a two-goal deficit. "We're starting slow. It's frustrating."
Montreal's Hassoun Camara bicycled his side to 1-0 lead in the 30th minute off a set piece, while Felipe Martins scored unmarked in the 60th minute following a long ball to fresh-off-the-bench sub Andres Romero. Portland got on the board in the 80th minute when Ryan Johnson ran into the end of a lovely Ben Zemanski cross, but former Timbers keeper Troy Perkins and the Montreal defense held firm to win their second road game to start the season.
"It's disappointing to dominate like we did and not get the result," said Timbers coach Caleb Porter. "Stats are stats, they don't always tell the story. In the end, we've got to get results."
Click past the jump for all your live-blog needs, along with FULL, UNCUT VIDEO of Porter's presser and more reaction from the locker room.
Montreal (1-0-0, 3 pts)—Troy Perkins in goal. Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari, Jeb Brovsky and Hassoun Camara on defense. Davy Arnaud, Partrice Bernier, Felipe Martins, Andrea Pisanu and Sanna Nyassi at midfield. Marco DiVaio up front.
Subs: Justin Mapp, Andres Romero, Evan Bush, Andrew Wagner, Dennis Iapichino, Calum Mallace and Collen Warner.
Portland (0-0-1, 1 pt)—Donvan Ricketts in between the pipes. Michael Harrington, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Ryan Miller and Mikael Silvestre on defense. Diego Valeri, Diego Chara and Will Johnson at midfield. Ryan Johnson, Kalif Alhassan and Darlington Nagbe up front.
Subs: Ben Zemanski, Michael Nanchoff, Jack Jewsbury, Rodney Wallace, Jose Valencia, Jake Gleeson, Dylan Tucker-Gangnes.
Two 2012 non-playoff teams showed they're at least capable of being intriguing after week one: As mentioned, Montreal knocked off Seattle 1-0 at the CLink behind an Arnaud goal—and Portland coach Caleb Porter certainly took note of their clean sheet. And yeah, it's been a week, but Portland leads the league in shots (21), passes (553), pass-completion percentage (84%) and second in overall percentage (63%). The question is, can they match those numbers against a stout Montreal D?
PREGAME: The Timbers Army attempted to cheer for Perkins twice pre-game. First when they mistook backup keeper Evan Bush for the former Timber, then when Perkins finally ran out on the field and the PA/pre-game video was on full blast. I'm sure they'll get him during player intros. Update: In fact, they did.
Tonight's press box menu: Green beans almondine, Assorted pasties, chicken cacciatori, beef stroganoff, veggie plate, Caesar salad, chips with French onion dip.
Now, I'm as red-blooded as the next American, but AS A SONG the Canadian national anthem wrecks the SSB. Sorry, grandpa.
A bit of a delay at the start. Timbers Army chanting, "Blow the fucking whistle!"
FIRST HALF: And away we go! Timbers headed toward the South End to start.
2nd—Will curls one in for Ryan in our first attempt at a Johnson&Johnson connection, but the latter is offside. Perkins with a first touch, running forward to punch it out.
3rd—Nagbe dribbling forward (which always looks dangerous) and passes it ahead to Valeri at the top of the box. He fires, but it's knocked down right away.
6th—The Timbers have completely dominated possession early. The Impact have barely touched it.
8th—Di Vaio plays a ball in early and catches the Timbers' D napping a bit. It finds Martins right in front, and his full-footed strike slides juuuuuuuust wide of the goal past a diving Ricketts. Portland gets away with one there.
10th—Timbers really dominating possession, as most of the action is at midfield.
11th—Just when I say that, Di Vaio dribbles past two Portland defenders and crosses in front. Silvestre with a classy slide in the box to prevent it from bouncing dangerously to the back post. Well done for the veteran defender, who struggled in the opener. Montreal corner comes in and RICKETTS WITH A HUGE SAVE. Di Vaio had a volley right in front, but Ricketts somehow gets one of those big paws on it, and Portland again is lucky not to be down a goal.
16th—Valeri triple-teamed in the midfield. Looks like the word's out on what he can do, and the scouting reports have been drafted. Nagbe dribbles forward near the 18 and looks for Johnson, who goes down in the box. Fans don't like it, but probably a good no-call.
18th—Nyassi gets around Miller, but Jean-Baptiste comes screaming around the corner for a lovely slide tackle. He gets right up and chases the ball down and is fouled by Nyassi. Timbers Army loves it.
19th—Valeri finds a bit of space and cuts back to fend off a defender. He finds Nagbe in the box, who dribbles once and has one from inside the 18, but it's knocked down and out.
23rd—Timbers with another long stretch of possession, culminating with Nagbe dribbling through the Montreal backline and firing from just outside the box. Again, it's knocked down and cleared, but a good sign for Portland fans that Nagbe's trigger finger appears to be itching tonight.
27th—Valeri-Johnson-Nagbe-Valeri-Johnson c-c-combo breaker! Lovely one-touch passing ahead to Johnson, who hits the circle button to beat his defender and find an angle to fire from. Perkins is in perfect position though, and makes the save.
30th—MONTREAL GOAL Nagbe is booked for a yellow card (first of his career), which sets up a free kick from near midfield. It comes in and Portland fails to mark up, letting Ferrari get to it first. He hits it and it bounces around in the box a bit while Portland fails to clear. Camara with a ridiculous bicycle kick that shocks this crowd. Wow, classy stuff there, and Ricketts really didn't have a chance. Impact lead 1-0.
37th—Nagbe finds himself 1-on-1 with Kamara (because Valeri finds him) and blasts from just outside the box. It has some heat on it, and Perkins punches it straight up in the air. Ryan Johnson comes in hot looking for the rebound, but Perkins collects.
38th—And now Johnson is fouled right in front, 20 yards out. Big moment here as Valeri lines it up in front of a five-man wall.
39th—Valeri cracks one low and it's knocked away immediately. Jean-Baptiste tries to float it back in, but Perkins is there to field it.
40th—Valeri with a great ball to find Miller running down the right side. He goes down in the box, but no penalty is called. That's a real tough non-call there, and Miller is heated. Perkins has to step in front of him as he screams at the ref/Montreal reserves warming up in the Southwest corner.
41st—Nagbe gets around two defenders and earns a free kick along the goal line. It's sent in, and again, immediately knocked out. Timbers starting to get in a bit of a groove.
42nd—Harrington puts one into the box for Valeri, who goes for the bike. He doesn't quite get all of it, and it's wide anyway. Portland would love to net one in the closing minutes of the first half here, and they're pressing hard for it.
HALFTIME: Montreal leads 1-0. For the second time in as many regular season matches, Portland goes into the locker room lugging a deficit. Can they respond like they did last week? Montreal looks especially stingy on defense, so it could prove difficult.
Some stats! Portland out-shot Montreal 8-5, but each side had two shots on target. Portland dominated possession (61.2%) and had 289 passes to the Impact's 181.
SECOND HALF: Ben Zemanski makes his Timbers debut, coming on for Alhassan. Timbers working toward their Army.
47th—Ryan Johnson fouled 35 yards out and Valeri sends it in low for Will Johnson, who pops it up in front of the net. Perkins rises to grab the floater and it'll be a goal kick.
49th—Chara leaves one for Nagbe, who passes on a shot and looks to pass inside to Will Johnson, but it's knocked away. Nagbe wins it back, but Miller is called for a handball as he loses his footing while trying to receive a pass. Unlucky for Portland—if Miller doesn't slip, he probably would've been able to send a dangerous cross in.
52nd—Valeri can pass, man, I tell ya. So many pretty touches come off his foot, it's uncanny. The latest gets into the box for the Johnsons, and after Montreal steps in front, the ball trickles to the feet of Zemanski, who lets one rip, but it's well right.
55th—Will Johnson with a steal and run the length of the field, giving it up to find Harrington running down the east sideline. He attempts a cross to the back post, but there's nobody home.
57th—Harrington bends/lofts one into the box for Ryan Johnson, but Perkins beats him to it and punches it away. Timbers corner kick played short and eventually ends up at the top of the box for Jean-Baptiste, who has one from 25 yards. Not exactly his strong suit there from that range, and the shot sails on him—the young defender might have been good to have a touch and let things develop a bit.
59th—For the Impact, Romero on, Pisanu off.
60th—MONTREAL GOAL Long ball played ahead and into the box for Romero, who gets just enough of a touch on it to slow it down. Timbers break on him and he passes back for a wide-open Felipe cutting toward goal, and he easily finishes near-post. Poor, poor marking by Portland, and the Impact lead 2-0. The way Montreal's defense is playing, this one might be all but over.
64th—Impact almost get another one as Di Vaio finds Romero in the box, and he chips toward the goal. It's on-frame, but Harrington is there for a save. Pardon the pun—Romero is having an instant IMPACT off the Montreal bench.
65th—Valeri gets it at the top of the box and he somehow beats a triple team and fires a shot. It's just wide.
66th—Perkins with a quality save after Jean-Baptiste with a nice touch in the box to earn a shot. Timbers with some momentum here, but Montreal's D is holding firm. Corner kick for Portland and Valeri bends it in over the wall, but into Perkins' gut.
68th—Trencito on for Miller. Porter looking to inject some life into an attack that's been well-contained by the Impact this year.
72nd—Timbers on the counter after a low cross is punched out by Ricketts. Valeri with a full-field run but doesn't see any cutters, opting to try his foot at a shot. Nesta steps right in front of him, though, and the Impact clear.
73rd—Martins shown a yellow card after tangling with Will Johnson at midfield.
75th—For Montreal, Wenger on for Di Vaio.
76th—Zemanski earns a corner in the Northeast corner after a crafty play off Nyassi. Corner comes in and AJ-B has a head on it, but it goes the wrong way. A quick cross comes into Johnson, but he's stuck in traffic and can't get a clean pass off. Timbers again with prospects, but Montreal again holding firm.
79th—Chara with a volley from the top of the box after a throw, but it's stepped in front of once again by the Montreal defense.
80th—TIMBERS GOAL And here we go! Zemanski with a great ball from distance that lands right in front, and Ryan Johnson comes sliding in for left-footed knock past Perkins. Impact lead 2-1, but the Timbers have breached Montreal's armor. First goal as a Timber for RJ and we have ourselves a match.
84th—Montreal will have a corner and they're taking their time. Crowd doesn't appreciate it very much. Corner comes in and Portland clears with a Silvestre header.
86th—Valeri with a crafty little flick foward, but nobody except an offside Will Johnson is near it. Timbers will bring in their last sub—Wallace for Harrington. For Montreal, Warner is on for Felipe.
87th—Romero gets past Zemanski and derps his way into the box, nearly tripping over the ball. He manages to get it back for a shot, but Ricketts with another fantastic diving save to keep this game within reach.
90th—Trencito with a steal and dances near the goal line to rile up the crowd, but Montreal clears.
Four minutes of stoppage...Long pass ahead to Johnson, who chests it down and gets 1-on-1. Camara with a nice defensive slide to put it over his own goal line. Valeri sends a screamer into the six-yard box and Perkins with a big-time punch to knock it away. Wallace is on the wrong end of that and lands square on his back. He takes a second to gather himself and we're back at it...Timbers again on the attack and Valeri with a lovely side-volley in the box that just sails a bit on him...Wallace plays one into Will Johnson, who turns on it and tries to knock it on goal, but he can't get much power on it with the fallaway...After Montreal nearly scores, Nagbe dribbles around Camara and into the box and finds Valencia for an open look, but he hesitates and by the time he shoots, Perkins is there to grab it. Wow, what a finish.
FINAL: Impact win, 2-1. Perkins immediately turns around and gives a round of applause to Timbers Army, and they return the favor, serenading the keeper by chanting his name (Something injured Timber David Horst didn't exactly appreciate). A number of Timbers laying on their backs after they nearly equalized a half-dozen times in the final minutes. They looked wiped, and the disappointment was just as evident in the locker room.
"We're starting slow—it's frustrating," Will Johnson said. "This is our home field, we've got to defend it like that for 90 minutes, not 45."
Porter said it's simply too early to to get too worked up.
"There' s a lot of points on the table, there's a lot of games left. We can't get too low here," Porter said. "I believe in this team. I told them after this game they've got keep focused on the process. You can't point fingers or panic—we gotta keep a steady hand here."
Portland now heads North to face arch-rival Seattle, and Ryan Johnson says they need to stick with the program.
"We've just got to be a little bit sharper around the ball when it comes to those final passes," Johnson said. "As time goes on, it's early season, everyone's getting accustomed to each other. We'll be fine, I'm not worried at all."
And Porter apparently isn't any more worried about the Sounders than any other team, a sentiment might irk fans a bit after a slow start.
"The games are the games," Porter said. "Every game's important. Obviously, Seattle is a derby. But for me, it's no bigger than any other game."
The games may be equal in size, but after managing just one point at home in two chances, the pressure to win will only grow.
PORTER'S POSTGAME PRESSER: