The Timbers 2 gained more experience tonight. In their first road match, they traveled to Sandy, Utah, exchanged goals, and played a very even match with Real Monarchs SLC. In the second half, Monarchs dominated but T2 held on, even playing the last 25 minutes down a man to escape with a point.
The first half was a fairly even affair between the two teams. Both teams had 3 shots, 2 shots on goal, 1 save, and 1 goal a piece. Playing 4-3-3 formations, both sides tried to use high pressure to control the game and neither team looked like they were going to get the upper hand on the other.
Fatawu Safiu opened the scoring in the 7th minute with a run into the box and a great right footed shot to the near post to beat the Monarchs' keeper Lalo Fernandez. After the goal, there were about three or four chances the Monarchs were able to create but nothing dangerous at all until the 26th minute. A foul by T2 gave the Monarchs a free kick on the left side of the field about 25-30 yards out. Monarchs' captain Lucas Baldin took the free kick and sent it into the box where Monarch player Justen Glad got free and blasted his header into the back of the net for the equalizer.
At the 31st minute Rundell Winchester jumped up to head the ball but misjudged where it would be. The ball hit his arm instead of his head. While it was definitely a hand ball, the ref adjudged this to be intentional and Rundell was given a yellow card for his bad aim. In the 33rd minute T2 got their first corner kick of the match. This was their first chance created after opening the scoring in the 7th. Proceedings continued to be square and the game went into halftime 1-1.
Coming out of the locker rooms to start the second half, something changed. The entire second half was all Monarchs. The Monarchs came out firing on all cylinders and really pushed to find the go ahead goal. T2 were having a very difficult time getting on the ball and making things happen. You still felt like they could counter attack with their speed and nick another goal. Up until the 69th minute that is. About 30 seconds after getting his first yellow card, T2 defender Rennico Clarke went in on a really rough challenge from behind on a Monarchs player. Pretty straight forward call. Clarke got his second yellow card and saw an early trip to the locker rooms. The yellow cards came so quickly that I didn't even have time to react to the first one before he picked up the second one and it turned red.
After the red card T2 weren't just trying to improve on a sloppy second half, they were holding on and doing whatever they could to get out of Utah with a point. Over the next 25 minutes the Monarchs did everything they could to try to find the game winner, and provide the fans who sat in the chilly rain with all three points. They stretched the field as much as possible, switched the ball back and forth trying to open the T2 defense, anything. The last 10 minutes or so Monarchs were throwing everything and the kitchen sink at the goal trying to get something to go on frame. Up to this point any shot they took seemed to be destined for going over the crossbar. But as the second half wound down the shots gained accuracy and began testing Gleeson to greater effect.
Thankfully for T2, Gleeson was up to the task. Gleeson was able to get at least a hand or a punch to anything that came into his 6 yard box and he dominated his penalty area. Making huge save after huge save and keeping that point within reach. As the clock struck the 90th minute, the Monarchs sent a corner kick into the box that went to a T2 defender and his clearance went awry. Gleeson made a diving save to keep the own goal out of the net and was his save of the match to help T2 secure the draw on their first road trip.
With the point, T2 moves up to first place in the USL western conference, for the time being. And there will be a very short turnaround before the next match. It will take place in Seattle, at Starfire Sports Complex, this Saturday night at 7:30pm. Two undefeated teams will re-ignite the Cascadia rivalry between these two sides at this new USL level.
Top Three Performers
Jake Gleeson: Man of the Match performance from the keeper. Making a number of huge saves late in the game, including preventing an own goal from one of his defenders to help his 10 man side survive and take a point home.
Harrison Delbridge: Delbridge was key to T2 being able to fend off a mostly misfiring Monarch offense. I am pretty sure Delbridge is who had the awry clearance heading straight for his own goal but I'm going to look past that and give him more credit for his work on keeping Monarchs off the board in the second half.
Fatawu Safiu: Scored the opener in the 7th minute and got his first T2 goal. After scoring or assisting in every preseason match it is very nice to see Fatawu get on the board.