It was another preseason win for the Portland Timbers 2 USL team tonight at Providence Park.
In a closed door scrimmage versus the University of Washington's Mens soccer team, T2 eeked out a 1-0 win. The game winning goal was scored by Steven Evans off a cross from Fatawu Saifu in the 78th minute. Evans had subbed on for Brent Richards only 7 minutes earlier and his goal was his first of three very good shots on goal in his 20 minutes of play.
At this time I'm trying to learn the faces of the T2 players from a distance so I don't have an accurate lineup. But the backline for T2 started with Justin Luthy in goal, Brent Richards at right back, Rennico Clarke and Harrison Delbridge at Center and former Timbers U-23 Matt Rose at left back. Santiago Biglieri got his first start and his first minutes for T2 but only played about 20-25 minutes before being subbed off. He is not match fit yet and working very hard to get there. Also out on the field was Kharlton Belmar, Fatawu Saifu, and a few others I did not recognize yet.
The game started off with 10 minutes of possessive dominance by T2. UW rarely saw the ball but T2 wasn't able to test the UW keeper with a shot on goal. After the first 10 minutes things began to even out for the teams. T2 continued to dominate on possession but UW was dangerous on the counter via their left flank. Two players from UW (Number 7 and 13) play the same speedy left wing spot and UW sent all of their attacks up their left side for most of the night with #7 starting and finishing the night while #13 subbed on for him in the middle of the 1st half and subbed off towards the end of the 2nd. The best chance of the first half for UW came in the 14th minute but T2 keeper Justin Luthy made the first of about a half dozen fantastic stops to deny them the opener.
When the second half started T2 continued to dominate possession but slowed down and didn't seem to have any answers when they got into the attacking third. There was a trialist named "Jeff" who was subbed on for Biglieri who seemed to be very comfortable in the central midfield as well as pushing forward as an attacking mid. Most of the impressive performances came from "Jeff" and Fatawu Saifu on the evening.
Finally in the 71st minute 3 substitutions changed the game for T2. Steven Evans came on for Brent Richards and Andy Thoma came on for Matt Rose. Evans went straight to the midfield and a trialist with white boots dropped back to the right back spot. From midfield Evans was very much playing a Will Johnson roll, going box to box and providing the late runs from midfield that seem to turn into goals. And sure enough only seven minutes in a late run from midfield found himself on the end of a Fatawu Saifu cross and Evans smashed it into goal for the only, and game winning, goal of the match.
After the goal, Evans found two more very strong shots on goal that the UW keeper had to work hard to save. And T2 finished the match defeating UW 1-0. Getting the 4th preseason scrimmage victory in a row. I believe this was also the 3rd shutout for T2 in those 4 scrimmages. The team is strong in possession and communication seems to be building well between teammates. I was at the very first closed door scrimmage for T2 and tonight they were much more cohesive as a team. Jay is preparing them well for the start of the season on March 29th versus Real Monarchs.
I was told T2 should be announcing a couple more signings sometime next week. I'd personally like to see Fatawu Saifu and Justin Luthy signed. Perhaps we could see 'Trialist Named Jeff' and 'Trialist with the White Boots' signed too. We don't know who will be announced but look forward to some more names being officially added to the current 6 man roster for T2 next week.