The Portland Timbers got their first win of the preseason in impressive style today as came away from their 30' of first team play against the Houston Dynamo with a 2-0 victory thanks to goals from Will Johnson and Maximiliano Urruti.
Through the first 60' of the match, the Timbers struggled to put pressure on the Dynamo. The line-up through the first two 30-minute periods heavily featuring Timbers' reserves and rookies as well as first team contenders Kalif Alhassan, Jorge Villafana, Futty Danso, and Frederic Piquionne.
When the Timbers did look threatening in the early going, it was Alhassan and Villafana driving the play. The team's best moment in the first 60' came from a brief combination between the two as Villafana was played down the left wing and, after getting past one defender, cut the ball back to Alhassan at the top of the box. Alhassan took a quick touch and fired a hard shot at the near post that was parried out by Tally Hall.
The final third of the match, however, saw the Timbers make wholesale changes to their line-up, bringing on eleven men who could easily be starting on March 8th. With a mix of starters and fringe players on the pitch for Houston, the Timbers bossed the game, controlling the vast majority of the possession and looking by far the more dangerous team
The scoring was almost opened in the 71' when, after a contested header from the diminutive Gaston Fernandez fell to Darlington Nagbe, Nagbe looked up the field and played a calmly chipped ball to a wide open Urruti. After checking back to the linesman to make sure he was onside, Urruti drove toward the net and ripped a low shot at the far post, only to have it ricochet back off the woodwork and into the arms of second half Dynamo keeper Tyler Deric.
The tie was finally broken in the 80', when Fernandez found a streaking Urruti running into the Houston box. Picking his head up, Urruti saw Will Johnson arriving late to the scene and dropped an easy pass to the Timbers' captain. Johnson struck the ball with his first touch, driving a bullet past Deric and into the back of the net to put the Timbers up 1-0.
The Timbers' second came in the 83' after Fernandez received the ball in the center of the pitch from Schillo Tshuma. Fernandez, with space in the middle of the pitch, was able to pick out the streaking Urruti, whose run carried him into open space behind the Houston line. With defenders closing in on him, Urruti had just enough time to get off a shot, one that curled around Deric and into the goal, sealing the Dynamo's fate with less than ten minutes to go.
From there the Timbers continued to look like the more dangerous team, but were unable to extend their lead further, instead settling for seeing the match out without allowing a significant scoring chance for Houston.