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June 22, 2012 at 12:16 AM

Transcript of Portland coach John Spencer’s pre-Seattle conference call

Portland Timbers Logo.jpgIn anticipation of the big rivalry game Sunday, Portland Timbers coach John Spencer held a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon. He discussed the rivalry, the league’s unbalanced schedule, Mike Fucito and more.

Here’s the full transcript:

* * *

(Opening statement…) “Well, I think these games are great games to play in for the players and obviously great games to coach against top quality opposition. I think it’s going to be a tremendous atmosphere at JELD-WEN come this weekend and I’m pretty sure the players on both sides are looking forward to it.”

(How much is it in your minds what happened in Portland last year, blowing the lead to the Sounders?) “I don’t think it’s on our minds. Obviously there’s nothing that you can do. That game is in the past. They got the three points; whether they deserved them or not is a matter of opinion. But we can only look forward. I think we’re looking forward to the game. I think the players have trained and practice this week and practiced well. I think the young guys are looking forward to the challenge this weekend.”

(What were your thoughts on the atmosphere of last year’s games?) “I thought they were tremendous. Obviously the first game was up there in Seattle and me and Sigi met each other at the halfway line and shook hands right before the game. I’ll never forget what he said; he said, ‘This is what big games are all about,’ and I couldn’t agree more. I thought the atmosphere was electrifying. Then obviously they came down to Portland and it was just the same — great, great, intensity. The fans were out in full force and voices, singing for 90 minutes. I will say that I’m a little bit disappointed that we’re not getting a chance to play under the lights at JELD-WEN. I much prefer the night games for big games, so that’s a little bit disappointing.”

(What did your team take from the loss to Cal FC in the Open Cup?) “We’re on here talking about the Seattle game, correct? So I don’t see how the Cal game has an effect on us playing against Seattle this weekend.”

(How does this rivalry compare to ones you’ve experienced?) “Well, obviously I’ve played in the Rangers-Celtic game and there are not many games in the Premiership that comes close to Rangers and Celtic, not just for the on field atmosphere, but obviously the hatred and there’s a religious aspect behind the game. It’s a very, very unique game for the world, so I wouldn’t compare it to that. But what I will say is as a sporting event I think it’s probably one of the best sporting events you’ll probably see in the U.S. — in any sport. I think the fans from both sides, I think the front office and teams from both sides should be very proud to be involved in such a game. It’s going to be a good spectacle. We’re looking forward to performing well and getting three points.”

(You beat Salt Lake and the Galaxy among other last year, but would a win Sunday be the biggest win in franchise history?) “No, I wouldn’t say that. I think it would be one of the most memorable victories in franchise history. I think last year when we played the Galaxy they were on an unbelievable roll — I think undefeated in 16 or something games. (They) came down to visit us in a midweek game after beating Vancouver 4-0 or 4-1 up here, I’m not too sure the correct result that night. I think that was probably the most memorable game for the fans. Some fans still stop me in the street and talk about that performance. … We could’ve lost 10 in a row to Seattle. The 11th one is always different. In the big games, especially the rivalry games, form goes out the window. It doesn’t matter. Seattle could be 40 points ahead of us right now or 40 points behind us … and I think everyone just looks forward to winning that game on that day.”

(Do you think the unbalanced schedule waters down the rivalries?) “No, I don’t think so. There’s nothing we can really do about it. … I think the more games that came along in the Cascadia rivalry, I think it’s tremendous to be involved in these games. As I said, it’s even better when you’re involved in them as a player. But I think the more times you can play your rivals, I think it’s great for fans, I think it’s great for the history, it’s great for building that rivalry, not just for the present but for the future. For me and an unbalanced schedule, you can do nothing about it, so you worry about the things you can control and that’s playing well on Sunday and getting three points. For me, I enjoy the game. I enjoy facing Sigi. I enjoy facing Martin Rennie on the sidelines. The more the merrier when these games come along. I really enjoy them.”

(Have you noticed anything different in Mike Fucito this week?) “Yeah, as I’ve said, he’s been getting himself really fit. He wasn’t involved too much in Montreal, for whatever reason, I can’t comment on what they were doing, all I can say is since Mike’s been with us he’s a tremendous character. He wasn’t as fit as we’d have liked him to be and he’s worked ever so hard. A tremendous character, a great trainer and just an infectious little character. He actually reminds me of myself a little bit when I played and he puts a smile on my face every single day, so we’re delighted to have I’m and I think he’s looking forward to the game on Sunday.”

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