The third time was a charm as the Portland Timbers managed to grab their first win of the year on Tuesday night at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field in a first-round U.S. Open Cup qualifying match.
The third time was a charm as the Portland Timbers managed to grab their first win of the year on Tuesday night at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field in a first-round U.S. Open Cup qualifying match. The 2-0 victory over Chivas USA provided the team with a much-needed boost of confidence after starting off the regular season with a dismal 0-2-0 record in MLS regular season play.
The win over Chivas USA does not count toward the team’s MLS regular season record, but instead advances Portland into the second round of the U.S. Open Cup, which will be played later this month in San Jose, Calif. The victory gave the team a sense of relief and offered a potential spark to get momentum swinging its way for the rest of the season.
“We have that monkey off of our back (in reference to the 0-2 start),” said Timbers defender Eric Brunner to droppingtimber.com. “It’s good, now we have a win under our belt.”
The win was hard-fought and well deserved for a Timbers squad that has been waiting to be able to see its true potential pay off. Tuesday night’s match began in familiar Portland fashion, with pouring rain and a sold-out crowd seeming to be undeterred by the poor conditions. Over 5,000 fans packed the stands of Merlo Field, giving the Timbers a small taste of what will be in store for them at their official home opener on April 14 against the Chicago Fire.
The game began with an immediate scoring opportunity for the Timbers. Only 20 seconds after kick-off, forward Jorge Perlazza sent a cross kick to Kenny Cooper, but the timing was slightly off and the attempted header on frame was not powerful enough to get past Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. Still, the first half was dominated by Portland, as they took a 5-2 advantage with shots on frame and a 13-3 advantage on overall shots. The problems arose from players being unable to execute on potential scoring opportunities.
The largest swing of momentum for the Timbers came in the 43rd minute, when Chivas defender Andrew Boyens was given his second yellow card for pushing Kenny Cooper to the ground and was booted from the game. This was a huge advantage for Portland, as Chivas were now left with 10 players for the remaining 47 minutes of play. No scoring would occur between the ejection and halftime, but the Timbers went into the lockers knowing they had the advantage.
“We went into halftime confident,” Brunner told droppingtimber.com. “We knew if we kept putting pressure on them, we’d get a goal.”
The second half began in similar fashion, but Chivas was not ready to give up despite being down a man. Striker Justin Braun was able to break through the Timbers back line and get an open shot on goal against 20-year-old rookie goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. Gleeson, who started due to injuries to both goalkeepers Troy Perkins (knee sprain) and Adin Brown (hamstring strain), gambled but ultimately made the right choice and timed a sliding tackle to dislodge the ball from Braun. The ball was quickly cleared after the near goal and ended up in the possession of Timbers midfielder Jack Jewsbury. After advancing the ball, Jewsbury took a tough shot from 35 yards out that passed two Chivas players and made it just inside the far left corner of the goal, giving the Timbers the first score of the game.
The 1-0 lead did not last long, as Portland executed on another attack only two minutes later. Jewsbury lined up and took what would be the only corner kick of the game, connecting for a header shot by midfielder Jeremy Hall. The header was deflected by the goalkeeper, but landed right in front of Brunner for the easy score.
With only four minutes remaining, the Timbers were up 2-0 on a drenched and exhausted Chivas team that seemed to be down for the count. The Timbers finished to a roaring home crowd, getting their first win of the season in convincing fashion. The win was nice, but game-changer Jack Jewsbury reminded us that there is still a long way to go in the season.
“We have to make sure we’re not satisfied with this win,” Jewsbury stressed. “We want to continue to build.”
A win always helps to build up a team’s confidence, especially when shutting out another squad, but thinking about the next game will be the main priority for the Timbers. They now head east to face the New England Revolution at Gillette stadium tomorrow afternoon with kick-off scheduled for 4:30 p.m.
The Revolution are 1-0-1 so far this season, riding a 2-1 victory over D.C. United last weekend. This should be a tough test for the Timbers, but will be the final game before they make their true MLS home debut at JELD-WEN field on April 14. Both teams should be feeling confident after big wins, but it will come down to which team is able to make the critical saves and execute when it counts. Expect rookie goalkeeper Gleeson to have another opportunity to shine and help bring the Timbers their second win. ?