Familiar faces oppose each other for the first time tomorrow evening at Merlo Field. The 2014 USL Champs Sacramento Republic make their first trip to the Rose City to face Timbers 2. Even though this is the first meeting between these two sides, they should not be strangers as Sacramento Republic was the USL affiliate for the Portland Timbers last season (as well as another MLS team).
Portland Timbers 2
T2 (1-0-0, 3pts) opened their season in dazzling fashion as they defeated Real Monarchs SLC 3-1 on Sunday behind a brace from Kharlton Belmar and a tally from Trinidad and Tobago international Rundell Winchester. 3,667 fans were on hand to witness the first match for T2 and a rare victory for a Timbers team in the month of March. One of those fans in attendance was Timbers head coach Caleb Porter who was impressed with what he saw.
Kharlton Belmar scored the first ever T2 goal in the first half against the Monarchs. And then a 3 goal barrage in 4 minutes in the second half saw Belmar net his brace, Winchester net his first goal, and the Monarchs scored their first goal in team history off a defensive error by T2. For his two goal performance Kharlton Belmar was named to the USL Team of the Week.
Having continued their winning ways from preseason into the regular season, T2 will hope to continue that trend at home before going on a 4 game road trip to face the Monarchs again, as well as traveling to Sacramento, Seattle, and Phoenix.
Their first opponent was as new to the game as they were, but coming up next the opponent is much more familiar. T2 keeper Jake Gleeson spent much of last season on loan to Sacramento and was on the championship winning side. T2 defender, Harrison Delbridge also came to us from Sacramento in the off season after playing 16 matches with that side. And having been the USL affiliate for Portland last season the organization itself should have some idea of what they will face this week.
Sacramento Republic FC
Sacramento Republic (1-0-1, 3pts), coached by Predrag "Preki" Radosavljevic, come off a last minute victory and face the last of 3 road games to start their 2015 season. Their first match of the campaign was a 4-2 loss to Seattle Sounders 2 at Starfire Sports Complex. Sacramento then followed that up with a trip down south to the Stubhub Center to face LA Galaxy II.
In a mirror copy of their 2014 playoff game against Los Dos, Sacramento midfielder Rodrigo Lopez netted the game winner in second half stoppage time to, once again, put a dagger in the hearts of Los Dos fans.
For Rodrigo Lopez, it is a homecoming of sorts for the standout Sacramento midfielder. Lopez played for the USL Timbers in 2009-2010 and made the leap with the team to MLS in 2011. Lopez was the first player signing for Sacramento when they joined USL in 2014.
Watch it on: Streamed live on Timbers.com/T2
Kickoff: Thursday, April 2nd, 7:00 pm Pacific at Merlo Field in Portland, Oregon
Portland Timbers 2: 1-0-0, 3pts, 4th place in the Western Conference
Sacramento Republic FC: 1-0-1, 3pts, 5th place in the Western Conference
Tickets for this match are still available and can be purchased here or at the gate. Following the midweek game vs Sacramento, T2 will hit the road for 4 straight matches. First up will be a rematch with the Monarchs at Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday April 6th. Kickoff is set for 6:00 pm Pacific. T2 will not return home until Sunday, May 3rd for a match against the Orange County Blues at Providence Park.