Orlando City SC forward Dom Dwyer (14) shoots and scores the game winning goal past Portland Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson (90) during the second half at Orlando City Stadium. (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO, Fla. — Other than the gush of showers and clinks of gear being thrown to the floor, the Portland Timbers’ locker room was quiet Sunday evening. Players stared at the ground or their phones as they wiped away sweat and packed for a long trip home.
Minutes earlier, they watched a 2-0 lead slip away in a matter minutes as Orlando City (2-2-1, 7 points) scored off a set piece, a penalty kick and then a Dom Dwyer goal to hand the Timbers (0-3-2, 2 points) a crushing 3-2 defeat at Orlando City Stadium.
“This one’s tough to swallow. This one’s all on us,” Portland defender Zarek Valentin told Pro Soccer USA. “Yea, they won the game, but this is our mistakes. A set piece, PKs, things like that — those are things that we should manage. Yea they put pressure on us, but it comes down to us not handling things the right way. And we need to buck up and be men about it and make plays. It comes down to us making plays, and we made more on the day, honestly. I think we were the better team. We hit both posts … had two goals, played and dominated most of the game for 80 minutes, and then we let our minds ya know – we had a mind lapse the last 10 minutes and, for lack of a better word, we pissed away the game. We gave it away. They won, but we lost it in my opinion.”
“In previous weeks Ridgewell being left out was a coach’s decision, but this week he picked up a knock,” a club spokesman told Pro Soccer USA.
Here are some more sounds from the visitors’ locker room.
Head coach Giovanni Savarese
On lineup changes: “I think some of the changes were specifically because of the way Orlando plays. We felt that we could find more spaces with the players that we had, and at the end we did that during the match – until the last 10, 15 minutes of the game. So, that’s why we made the substitutions. But, I have a team in which I believe in everyone, and everyone can step in at any moment.”
On penalty called in 82nd minute that resulted in an equalizer for Orlando City: “I can say nothing, because I’m not able to see from where I was. I didn’t see the replay. There’s VAR, and you hope that they get it right. So right now I can’t comment on it because I didn’t see anything.”
Midfielder Diego Valeri
On whether team was tired from long road stretch: “That make sense. I mean, but we are professionals and we know how MLS [is]. We have been through a long road stretch, and it wasn’t easy. But I think we got a lot of positive things beside a result in the game. It’s the start of the season. We have a lot of games now at home, and I think our supporters will be much better feeling.”
On penalty call: “The referee was very secure about it. I don’t know. I don’t know what to say.”
On how Sunday’s lineup jelled: “I think we [were] well 80 minutes and then everything changed. In the second half, [Orlando City] looked very tired, they looked insecure, they looked – they couldn’t create a lot until the set piece that opened the 2-1. But, we have to – I mean, professional soccer is moments, and in five minutes you can lose everything.”
Defender Zarek Valentin
On penalty call: “I saw it and I think it’s soft. I mean, um, in my book it’s not a penalty. Obviously, the referee makes the penalty, but I think it’s soft – regardless of who gets touched or whatever. For me, if that’s the precedent being set then you can call a lot more penalties. But at the end of the day, if you create contact in the box that’s kind of the risk, so that’s the tough line you have to tread there. So, do I agree with it? No. But that’s part of the game. You don’t always agree with all those things. I need to go back and look at ours, so it just is what it is at this point.”
On what needs to change moving forward: “I just texted one of my buddies, and if you look at the last three games — we had a good result away at Dallas, 1-1 after being down a man, ya know it’s a tough place to play. Then we went away to Chicago and were up in the 84th minute, gave up a late goal to tie the game. And this one, we were up 2-0 in the 80-whatever minute and we lost the game, so we put ourselves in great spots, we just have to finish. Once we finish we’re going to accumulate points like it’s nobody’s business. But it’s on us to have a strong mentality in games. We can play well, but you win and lose games in the box, and when it comes down to crunch time you’ve got to make plays. And that’s all of us – from the back line and the guys up front – we have to make plays. And we have to look ourselves in the mirror and, ya know, take this one on the chin.
“We’re all hurting right now. This is one of the toughest losses I’ve been apart of, but you have to learn from it. And, again, we put ourselves in good spots consistently the last three games to get points – but it’s not enough. We’re not happy with one point, we’re not happy with a good 80-minute performance in Orlando … it’s just not good enough. Even in Chicago, we traveled cross-country and we go to Chicago and we’re up 2-1 in the 84th minute? We need to finish these games out. It’s just unacceptable. It’s child’s play. So, we need to look ourselves in the mirror. And yea, the other teams, kudos they put us in tough situations, but we need to finish the games out. As a defender, that’s on us and we need to hold it down.”