The Portland Timbers U23's took on the Fraser Valley Mariners yesterday and did something that the Timbers first team has not done since the first week of the season: they won big and they won in style. With a final score of 3-0, a score that was generous to the Mariners, the U23's opened their season with an exciting victory.
From the start the Little Timbers pressed the attack and were quickly rewarded with a goal from newcomer Mark Sherrod (that's SHARE-rod, according to the pronunciation guide) in the 10'. After receiving the ball inside the box, Sherrod calmly fired the ball home inside the far post. A Hermann Trophy semi-finalist last year, Sherrod looked assured in the attack and managed ten shots on the day, a U23's record. His persistence would eventually pay off with a second goal in the 40' although he was not able to secure his hat trick with several shots that were blocked off the goal line in the second half.
The U23's other goal came courtesy of another newcomer, Canadian striker Emery Welshman. Welshman's goal came in the 16th minute as his powerful shot squeezed underneath Mariners keeper Mark Village. Welshman, Sherrod, and winger Cam Vickers tormented the Fraser Valley defense until the 55' when both Welshman and Vickers were substituted for John McFarlin and Ricardo Carrillo. Although the U23's continued to control the run of play, the team rarely looked as dominant as they did in the first half.
Friday's beautiful weather, a relaxed atmosphere, and some good soccer being played by the home team allowed the U23's to show off the level of talent that the Timbers organization has been able to bring in this year. With several future MLS draftees and some potential homegrown players on the roster, the future of Major League Soccer is on display with the U23's this season and is well worth checking out.
More notes on the game after the jump.
- Cam Vickers appeared for the Timbers reserves in their match earlier this year against the Seattle Sounders.
- The Timbers earned a penalty kick in the 83' thanks to a tug on the jersey of sub Clark Phillips. Steven Evans, a four year Veteran of the U23's, stepped up to take the penalty but his shot was saved by Village.
- The Timbers central defenders for much of the match, Chris Harms and Marc Tonkel, played some excellent defense, but both had some problems when passing out of the back or taking their first touch leading to some nervous moments.
- Spencer Richey, who played against the U23's last year for the Tacoma Tide, earned the shutout in his first appearance with the Timbers, making two saves along the way.
- Both Richey and Vickers played for the Tide last year before the team was converted to the Sounders U23's this season.
- The Timbers U23's played in a very similar style to the first team, favoring generating chances from the wings and getting both fullbacks, Reed Matte and Anthony Hobbs, forward into the attack.
- Late in the game Matte had an excellent run forward, dashing from the haflway line to just outside the box before shooting and hitting the crossbar.