Someone with the Timbers moniker can in fact win in March. 3,667 Portlanders turned out to watch the inaugural match for Timbers 2 end in a victory for the home side at Merlo Field. Timbers 2 defeated 10 man Real Monarchs SLC 3-1 and started off their USL season with a good performance and all three points.
The match opened up with a hard foul by the Monarchs on Fatawu Safiu. But besides some chippy fouls T2 were pressing hard and high very early in the match. With some players that hadn't yet played with T2 coming down from the first team on loan tonight there were a few hiccups in connecting passes. Usually anytime the Monarchs were able to gain possession it was due to a missed pass. However T2 showed on the night lots of speed to quickly recover anytime they lost possession.
The king of speed for this T2 side, Kharlton Belmar, was out there running down every ball and really pressuring the SLC backline. Essentially anyone on the T2 side could kick the ball wherever they wanted to and Belmar would either get to it or be there to contest it.
The first goal ever for the new side came from the speedster Belmar in the 31st minute. Midfield possession got a pass out wide left to Schillo Tshuma who absolutely destroyed a defender and moved the ball up the field sent a cross into the box which found the head of Kharlton Belmar. Belmar blasted the header into the net from 6 yards out and his goal saw the team head into the locker room at half time up 1-0 over the visitors.
In the second half Belmar would once again prove to be the source of the SLC keeper's future nightmares. In the 54th minute Belmar's speed and front line pressure resulted in winning the ball off of the keeper and slotting home his second goal of the night into the open net from 15 yards out. It proved to be the game winner and was quite a sight to see just how fast Belmar could be to get to the balls he was chasing down in the attacking third.
Shortly thereafter however T2 would snag another. This time it was Trinidadian Rundell Winchester who grabbed the third for T2. In the 58th minute Andy Thoma got the ball out wide and sent in a long cross from near the endline. Belmar was there but wasn't going to get to it, however Winchester came streaking in with unbelievable pace and got a stunning diving head onto the ball right at the far post to smash it home.
Unfortunately, one minute later in the 59th, T2 defender Rennico Clarke turned to make a backpass to his keeper under pressure from SLC forward Coco Navarro. Unfortunately Clarke slipped and went down. Navarro pounced on the free ball at the top of the box, took a touch to line up his shot, and put away the Monarchs only goal on the night past Luthy.
And even though those three goals in four minutes was the end of goal scoring it would not be the end of the action. T2 continued to press and work hard on getting a fourth goal. At the 86th minute SLC forward Garrett Losee picked up his second yellow of the match and was sent off. After that the game was all T2 as they continued to look for a fourth goal that would not come. Only after the 2nd of 4 minutes of stoppage time did T2 run the clock down by keeping the ball in the corner.
After opening the season with a victory, T2 (1-0-0, 3pts) will return to Merlo Field on Thursday night to face the 2014 USL Champions Sacramento Republic FC. Kickoff will be at 7pm.
Top Three Performers
Kharlton Belmar: With a brace on the night Belmar's speed proved to be no match as he lead the front line and secured T2's first ever victory
Rundell Winchester: Playing out on the right wing, Winchester's speed got him into the box to snag the 3rd goal. Lots of combination play with the other midfielders provided other dangerous opportunities and helped T2 keep up the high pressure all night long
Blair Gavin: Gavin's leadership in the middle of the pitch helped keep the team together and focused. A lot of the midfield possession was won by Gavin and he helped spark a number of attacks, including the one that resulted in the opening goal for Belmar.
Other Results from the Weekend in USL
Charleston 3, Charlotte 2
FC Montreal 0, Toronto II 2
Red Bulls II 0, Rochester 0
Louisville 2, St Louis FC 0
Pittsburgh 5, Harrisburg 2
Wilmington 2, Richmond 2
Tulsa 1, OKC Energy 1
Austin Aztex 2, Colorado Springs 0
OC Blues 1, Arizona United 2
LA Galaxy II 2, Sacramento Republic FC 3
Sounders 2 4, Whitecaps 2 0