Ajax defeats Timbers 2-0

To those who follow European soccer, AFC Ajax needs no introduction. The Amsterdam-based franchise is the most successful club in the Netherlands, having won 30 league titles since 1956.

To those who follow European soccer, AFC Ajax needs no introduction. The Amsterdam-based franchise is the most successful club in the Netherlands, having won 30 league titles since 1956. The team is also the seventh most successful European club of the 20th century and has seen players like Marco Van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp and Johan Cruyff rise to stardom while playing for the club.

So, when Ajax came to Jen-Weld Field to play the Timbers in a friendly contest, very few expected the Timbers to see positive result. And the evening went just as expected. Ajax scored two goals, one at the start and one near the end of the game to register a 2-0 win over the Timbers.

Playing in front of a capacity crowd of 18,627 at Jen-Weld, Timbers head coach John Spencer tinkered with his formation and decided to go with an attacking 4-3-3 approach. Also, Spencer opted to start a different eleven from the rotation that’s been used most recently.

The team only played four starting players, as Ryan Pore and Sal Zizzo ran up front alongside Kenny Cooper. David Horst returned to action on the backline, while the midfield got a new look with Peter Lowry, James Marcelin and Adam Moffat. Adin Brown got the start in front of goal.

No doubt, Spencer had the upcoming home MLS game against DC United in the back of his mind. Ajax too followed a similar tactic. They rested almost all their regular starters except in the defense and gave some of their younger players an opportunity.

Still, the Timbers had very little time on the ball and were taught a lesson in possession football by the Dutch Champions. Despite the attacking formation, the Timbers spent much of their time with 10 players behind the ball, defending against the Ajax onslaught.

Ajax broke through in the 17th minute. Ajax defender Gregory Van Wiel made a defense splitting pass to forward Lorenzo Ebecilio right in from of the Timbers goal, and Ebecilio made no mistake and scored the opening goal of the game.

With the clock winding down, the Ajax finished off any hopes of a Timbers comeback with a second goal in the 89th minute. Midfielder Damy de Zeeuw received the ball from forward Araz Ozbiliz and scored the second goal of the match.

“Any time you go out and play those types of players, it’s fun,” Pore said. “They’re definitely as good as they’re advertised.”

Ajax manager and Dutch legend Frank de Boer had nothing but praise for the Timbers Army after the match.

“Great audience, great atmosphere, I can see how a lot of teams have problems when they have to play here,” said de Boer. “The enthusiastic crowd can always be a very difficult thing for the opponent.”

The friendly match was played fairly by both the teams and no players received any cautions or red cards. The Timbers used this opportunity to experiment with different player combinations and formations. The Timbers made six substitutions before the match ended.

“We were decimated at the start of the season with injuries, so it’s nice to see Eddie [Johnson] get back, Brian Umony get some time, Peter [Lowry] and Adam Moffat getting time in midfield,” Spencer said. “It was a good exercise for us.”

However, the Portland Timbers will look to get back to their winning ways in the MLS when they take on DC United at the Jeld-Wen field Sunday afternoon. The Timbers home form in their inaugural MLS season has been brilliant. Spurred on by the vociferous Timbers Army, the Timbers are 5-0 at home in the league this season, although the team has a 1-2 record at home in non-league games.

Portland’s incredible home record has helped the team climb up to the third spot in the Western Conference. The Timbers have 17 points from ten matches and are nine points behind leaders LA Galaxy, with four games in hand. The Timbers have taken 10 points from their last five games. In their last game, defender Eric Brunner scored against his former club, the Columbus Crew, helping Portland earn a 1-0 win at home.

On the other hand, DC United has slipped down to the sixth spot in the Eastern conference, having taken just five points from the last five games. However, the Eastern conference is a much more fiercely contested conference, and DC United is just five points behind league leaders New York Red Bulls with a game in hand.

Also, AFC Ajax played DC United last weekend and secured a 2-1 win against United from the nation’s capital. The Timbers have looked nearly unbeatable at home so far, but three-points against DC won’t come easy. Defense will likely be key for Portland, as they’ve earned three shutouts in their last four league matches. Kick-off for Sunday’s match is set for 2 p.m. at Jeld-Wen field. ?