Only 11 days remain before the Portland Timbers make their MLS regular season debut against the Colorado rapids on March 19.
Only 11 days remain before the Portland Timbers make their MLS regular season debut against the Colorado rapids on March 19. With the pre-season almost wrapped up, final practices and roster cuts will be made to reveal the Timbers squad we will see this season.
Though the pre-season does not count toward the team’s overall record, it is when players jostle for a position on the final squad, which has yet to be announced. Additions and trades have been made in attempt to beef up the final squad for the Timbers.
Before entering the weekend’s games, Portland made a few big roster additions, including midfielder Jack Jewsbury, who was acquired from Sporting Kansas City earlier in the week. Jewsbury was chosen to take the field as a captain for the first matchup of the weekend against northwest rival Seattle Sounders. And Jewsbury did not let his new team down. Timbers head coach John Spencer was one of the many impressed by what the new addition of Jewsbury did for the team.
“Jack is that type of player who goes out and does his business in a very professional manner on the field,” Spencer told the Portland Timbers website. “He’s got great experience. I think tonight he showed a lot of people why we traded for him.”
The Timbers played hard and fast in the first half, scoring in the 21st minute of play, thanks to an easy tap in from forward Jorge Perlaza. The play developed with a cross kick sent to forward Kenny Cooper, who made an attempt on goal from a few yards out. Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller made the stop, but the ball came loose and Perlaza was there to take the easy shot.
The Sounders outshot the Timbers 7-4 in the first half, and did not let up going into the second half. Seattle had 11 shots on goal in the second, but remained cold on their shooting. The game was truly won for the Timbers in the stoppage time of the second half when Cooper was given another chance at drilling his shot that he had missed earlier in the game. Cooper made the goal from 15 yards out, despite a diving effort from Seattle’s keeper. Despite only taking seven shots on goal in the night compared to the Sounders’ 18, coach Spencer was proud of the team’s overall aggressive performance.
“We beat a good team tonight, but we can’t get too carried away,” said Spencer, according to the Timbers’ website. “You’ve got to have that desire to get there and win your individual battles, and I thought tonight we’ve done that.”
The 2-0 victory over the Sounders gave Portland a 2-0-4 record in the preseason and the confidence to go out the next day and play against a strong Vancouver side.
Saturday’s game with the Whitecaps saw a completely different starting squad taking the field for the Timbers. The new starting group attacked early, and midfielder Ryan Pore took advantage of Brian Umony’s miss off of the post in only the fifth minute of play.
The Timbers 1-0 lead lasted 30 minutes, until a deflection off of a Timbers defender rolled in, ending Portland’s four consecutive shutouts on the road.
Seven of 10 of the Timbers’ shots on goal were taken in the first half, but promising performances from goalkeeper Adin Brown and others made the 1-1 draw a success. Brown ended the night with three saves in the second half alone to preserve the draw. Coach Spencer was thoroughly impressed at the team’s play over the span of the weekend.
“It was a different game today, I felt,” Spencer said on the Portland Timbers website. “The good thing about it is, we come out of a weekend playing against Seattle and the Whitecaps having only given up one goal and not lost.”
The Timbers ended their preseason run to date with a 2-0-5 record and will be taking the field one final time in the pre-season against the San Jose Earthquake on March 12. The team’s first-ever regular season game as an MLS franchise is scheduled for March 19 at the Colorado Rapids. The home debut for the Timbers will be April 14 when matched up against the Chicago Fire. ?