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July 9, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Portland coach John Spencer’s teleconference quotes

A handful of Seattle-based reporters held a teleconference with Timbers coach John Spencer on Friday. I opted to commute to Portland yesterday so I got a little behind. Here is the transcription of that conversation:

* * *

(How are the Timbers different now from the May 14 meeting in Seattle?) “I don’t think we’re any different quality-wise. Obviously having not picked up a couple of wins more than we should have done, we’re not on a great run. Confidence is the biggest factor for us right now.”

(What took away the confidence?) “What happened was we got on a good run. Then with having young players and players who aren’t used to the league, you think that the run’s never going to end, you’re going to keep winning, and then you face a couple of bad results or results that go against you, and all of a sudden it tests your character. This is what the learning curve in professional sports is all about: you can’t always be on good runs, and in the face of adversity you see the true strength of character and the true sense of individuals. At the moment, we’re going to see this weekend a real true test of character for our guys.”

(What the banter between you and Sigi Schmid all in good fun and part of a rivalry?) “It was just Sigi was speaking his mind, then I spoke my mind. As I told the press down here today, it wasn’t a personal dig at Sigi, because I think he’s been tremendous as a coach and he’s had a fantastic coaching career. For me that was all professional. It was my professional opinion. It was nothing personal and I think Sigi would probably reiterate the same from his end. I have a lot of respect for Sigi and the job they’ve done up there at Seattle. They’ve been absolutely tremendous for this league with that they’ve done and you’ve got to take your hat off to them and give credit where credit is due. So it was a totally professional response, not a personal one.”

(Sounders players and coaches mentioned they want to feed off the energy of your crowd. How much have you seen that in Portland?) “I think a lot of players in this league would love to play in the environment that we have up here in Portland as well as Seattle and Vancouver. The atmosphere is tremendous. It’s as close to Europe as you can possibly get here in Major Soccer League. I think guys get a little bit of courage about them and look forward to coming in. They have that confidence to play in these environments and rise to the occasion. Along with the two places I mentioned, it’s a tremendous place to come play soccer. Who doesn’t play to come in and play in front of 18,000 to 20,000 week in and week out?”

(How is this week of preparation gone, especially since you had a friendly Thursday?) “For us, having that exhibition game just kind of disrupts your preparation a little bit. But we had the luxury last night of resting a few guys and keeping them fresh for the game this weekend, so no excuses for us. We’re not tired. We’re not fatigued, nothing at all. We’re just looking forward to the game. I think that we haven’t prepared any differently than we have for previous games. We know it’s a big, big game — especially since it’s the first game in MLS between the Sounders and the Timbers here in Portland, so our fans are really looking forward to it.”

(Do you have any explanation to why the Pacific Northwest is so soccer crazy?) “I couldn’t tell you. I don’t’ come from here. I’m enjoying my time here, but if I was answering that question, I’d be putting words into people’s mouth. For me, I couldn’t give you the answer. All I know is it’s fantastic being a part of it. I think it’s great for the game of Major League Soccer, and it’s only going to give Major League Soccer the credibility and publicity worldwide for sure.”

(Do you consider still Portland fans superior Seattle’s?) “I probably do because obviously I’m biased. I’m in this environment all the time. I have no doubt that Sigi and his coaching staff up there will say the complete opposite, but I think it’s just a tremendous experience. Even in an exhibition game last night, the atmosphere was electrifying. It’s just great for Major League Soccer and soccer in this country in general.”

(Are you worried about fan behavior?) “No, I don’t think there’s going to be any trouble at all. I think both sets of fans realize how important the game is, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near that stage where we’ve got to worry about crowd control. There’s never been any violence before here at JELD-WEN since I’ve been here anyway. I think it’s going to be two sets of fans who are going to have their fun and revel in the atmosphere and try to make it the best atmosphere possible. It’s OK that the staff are having a bit of banter back and forth, and player talking back and forth. First and foremost we have to put on a real good performance on the field, both teams, and have a real pleasant experience for people off the field.”

(Any thoughts on 500-ticket allotment to away fans?) “For me, to be honest with you, I’m just concentrating on the game. I don’t get involved in tickets and allocation of tickets. For me, it’s a no-comment kind of answer from me. I’m sorry to dodge the question.”

(What do you think about the Kasey Keller-Portland connection?) “For me, I wouldn’t comment on Kasey’s college career because I don’t really know much about it. When I think of Kasey Keller, I look along the lines of goalkeeping legend, to be honest with you. He had an unbelievable European career. He came back to the Sounders organization and has been fantastic in the nets for them, although I do hope he has a stinker this weekend. But I must admit that that’s the only way I can explain Kasey — an American goalkeeping legend.”

(Schmid mentioned the Sounders had Year 1 struggles when the adrenaline wore off and the day-to-day grind. Have you experienced the same?) “Yeah, I think he’s speaking from experience and there’s definitely a hint of truth in that. There’s no doubt about it that yeah, of course you do, you feed of the energy of the crowd and the buzz in the city. Then — and I read the quote today that you might be referring to — you hit that daily grind and you’ve got to produce day in and day out. Obviously the rest of the country becomes a little bit warmer and the climate changes and you’re doing the travel. All of sudden when you get a couple of bad results it really tests your character. I would totally agree with him, but he was also very smart in saying when it comes to these derby games, these rivalry games, form goes out the window as well. I think that’s what we’ll see this weekend.”


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