The final match of the preseason for Timbers 2 was a 4-1 victory over University of Portland at Merlo Field. This match ends the preseason for T2 with a 5-0-0 undefeated record headed into the final week before their first regular season match.
T2 grabbed a 3-0 lead to take into half time behind goals from Belmar, Safiu, and Evans. In the second half a goal from Portland Pilot sub Erik Edwardson brought the score to 3-1 as the Pilots tried to make the most of their influence on the half. But T2 had the final say with their 4th goal from Rundell Winchester to end the match 4-1 winners.
The T2 Starting XI for this match was: Luthy; Thoma, Manning, Clarke, Rose; Payne, Gavin; Winchester, Evans, Safiu; Belmar.
University of Portland's Starting XI was: Prevost; Arntson, Rhoads, Johnston C, Baeza; Dunn, Coffey, Sanchez, Hanlin, Johnston R; Zambrano (note: this is from the team sheet, not necessarily how they lined up during the match)
The game started off with T2 possessing the ball and doing well to keep it along their back line or link up with the midfield. In the first 10 minutes they couldn't link up between the midfield and the attackers. However that did not last long as T2 drew first blood in the 17th minute with Rundell Winchester getting the ball out on the left side of the box and sending in a cross that found the head of Kharlton Belmar. Belmar's header was spot on and beat Provost for the opening goal.
Following the first goal Luthy had to make a couple of saves as the Pilots tried a few different shots from distance and some free kicks. Nothing was able to get past Luthy and T2 continued to push for another goal. Which came in the 34th minute from leading team goal scorer Fatawu Safiu. After obtaining possession in the center of the pitch Fatawu moved the ball up the field a bit and then unleashed a really low rocket of a shot from 30 yards out that went through traffic and found the bottom right corner. In 5 preseason matches for T2 Fatawu has either scored a goal, got an assist, or both in each match. Not a bad record heading into the regular season. If you make it to the inaugural match next Sunday he is a player to keep an eye on.
Soon after the second goal the continued dominance of T2 produced a third in the 39th minute. Kharlton Belmar showed just how truly fast he is on the pitch. Even though the Pilot keeper Provost was slightly closer and running to gain a long ball that dropped near the box Belmar turned on the after burners and beat Provost to the ball smoking the keeper and controlling the ball on the right side of the box. Belmar sent in a cross to the chest of Steven Evans. And the former Pilot and hometown hero put the ball off his chest and into the open net for the third goal of the evening finishing the first half with a 3-0 lead over the Pilots.
The second half was much more in favor the Pilots. 7 of their 9 shots on the evening came in the second half as well as their only goal of the night. Right off the bat it seemed like T2 were going to continue their pressure as they seemed to have the better run of play during the first 5 minutes of the half. However, the Pilots quickly changed the momentum and begun to assault the T2 end. The Pilots finally broke through in the 60th minute with a goal from Erik Edwardson who headed in a cross from Eddie Sanchez. With the score 3-1, T2 made their first sub at the 63rd minute bringing in Santiago Biglieri for Steven Evans. There was then about 5-10 minutes where both teams got a few good chances in, but T2 had the better of them. Biglieri did get a decent shot on goal that was well blocked by a Pilot defender during a period of T2 assault on the Pilots goal.
T2 scored the final goal to put the match away in the 72nd minute. In a strange sequence of events Belmar found Rundell Winchester making a run into the box. And it appeared that Winchester went to strike the ball but completely missed it only to have the Pilot keeper crash into him right as he whiffs on the shot. With both the keeper and Winchester down the original momentum of the ball from the pass was enough to carry it across the line for the 4th of the evening. Officially Winchester is credited with the unassisted goal on the night, however baring any deflection from a Pilot during the sequence it is likely Belmar who unwittingly turned his pass to Winchester into the 4th goal of the evening. Either way, the ball found its way into the net and T2 finished off the night with a 4-1 win over the University of Portland.
This match ends the preseason for T2 with a perfect 5-0-0 record. In those 5 matches Fatawu Safiu scored or assisted on at least one goal per game. Also in those 5 matches T2 secured 3 shutouts and only gave up one goal when they did get scored on. Hopefully this bodes well and T2 can continue these trends as they begin their inaugural USL season at home on Merlo Field next Sunday the 29th versus Real Monarchs SLC.
For most of the USL the regular season started this weekend. And tonight T2's first opponents Real Monarchs traveled to the Stub Hub Center to take on LA Galaxy 2. The end result was a 0-0 draw. So we shall see how his carries on to the first match for T2.