The Portland Timbers posted a comprehensive 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City today in their first match of the 2015 preseason. Despite a waterlogged pitch at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona, the Timbers were in control of the match until the final whistle.
While SKC was missing a large part of their usual starters and filled the ranks with a number of trialists, the Timbers started the match off with a group that looked suspiciously like what we might see on starting day of the regular season.
In the early going the Timbers pressed forward with aplomb, moving the ball quickly up the pitch in the air as they tried to avoid getting bogged down in the more waterlogged parts of the pitch. The quick attacks saw the Timbers create multiple chances down either wing, with Darlington Nagbe and Rodney Wallace both having the opportunity to swing in unmet crosses in the opening forays of the game.
The Timbers kept pressing forward as the game wore on and the chances began to come. First Fanendo Adi got around defeneder Seth Sinovic and cut the ball back in the box for Rodney Wallace inside the 18, only to see his attempt steered away by a defender.
Shortly thereafter, the Timbers had a quick fluerry of chances that would finally culminate in a goal for the team. Gaston Fernandez had the first chance of the succession, receiving the ball at the top of the SKC box and dancing around a defender before attempting to curl the ball into the back of the net. Instead his attempt was blocked away and fell to Fanendo Adi. With only a split second in which to operate, Adi fired a second shot on net, only to have this one blocked as well. Finally, the ball fell back Fernandez and the diminutive Argentine again tried to thread it through the pack of opposing defenders.
Fernandez put a true curl on the ball as he sent it back into the back, only to see it deflect off the arm of a defender. Now, with the referee blaring his whistle and pointing to the spot, the Timbers would get the open shot they so desired.
Stepping up, Fernandez firmly took control of the penalty conversion. With no hurry, La Gata stepped up to the ball and slowly struck an almost floating ball into the back of the net as the SKC keeper dove the wrong direction.
The Timbers almost had a chance to add a second in the first half when Fanendo Adi capitalized on an errant back-pass and rounded the keeper, slotting the ball into the back of the net just in time to see the assistant referee raise his flag.
The second half saw the Timbers make wholesale changes to their operation, bringing in a roster full of unproven young talents and a pair of grizzled veterans.
It was neither group, however, that lead to the Timbers' second goal. With both Michael Nanchoff and Maxi Urruti entering the primes of their careers at 26 and 23 respectively, it was no big surprise to see Urruti earn a free kick on the edge of the box after getting drug down by a pair of SKC defenders. Nor was it a surprise that Nanchoff stepped up to the spot and struck a remarkably bent curveball around the wall, off the post, and in.
From there SKC did manage to push back somewhat, although the Timbers' organized defense were never really at issue. Still, the Timbers managed to hold on to their 2-0 lead despite the waves of SKC players being thrown into the meatgrinder against the Sporting attack.
What did you make out of the Timbers' first match of the season? Enjoy our first matches of the season.