The Timbers 2 got 4 points out of 4 road games, which is pretty respectable. Starting off with a draw in Sandy, Ut, T2 followed it up with losses in Seattle and Sacramento. But they got all 3 points and ruined the home opener for Arizona United in Scottsdale last weekend. Now, they get to return home, albeit briefly, to face another top Western conference team in the Orange County Blues FC from Southern California.
T2 (3-2-1, 10pts) secured all three points in their last game vs Arizona United behind a brace from top form striker Kharlton Belmar. His second goal was an absolute beauty and if you haven't seen, please take the time to watch this. Skip ahead to 0:59 on the highlight video embedded in the recap article.
Last weekend was also the return to meaningful minutes for Timbers captain Will Johnson. He put in a solid 63 minute shift in and is expected to play again tonight with T2. Will Johnson will be joined by six other first team players on a short term loan to the T2 side to gain some minutes. Noberto Paparatto, Andrew Weber, Michael Nanchoff, George Fochive, Gaston Fernandez, and Jeanderson will all join Johnson and T2 for the match tonight. Caleb Porter told the Oregonian that the plan is use to this match to keep a number of first team players sharp as the US Open Cup approaches. Especially for positions that don't see a lot of substitutions like goalkeeper and centerback. And even though Fernandez got about 15 minutes in the match last night I think he might still start.
So tonight the starting XI should look quite different than it normally does. I would predict a lineup something similar to: Weber; Jeanderson, Paparatto, Manning, Peay; W.Johnson, Fochive; Nanchoff, Fernandez, Winchester; Belmar. That is almost all first team guys and OC Blues is coming off of only one nights rest so predict what you will, but favorable results should be expected. Trap games happen though and there is a risk of a lack of chemistry/cohesion with all the loaned players joining for one game.
Orange County Blues FC
The OC Blues (3-2-0, 9pts) are coming off a rough loss against Sounders 2 in Tukwila on Friday night. They took the lead in the first half via a Christopher Ramirez shot but were outdone in the second half. S2 were able to come back and equalize in the 66th minute via substitute Sam Garza and then about 10 minutes or so from time they got a PK called and Pablo Rossi put it away for the home team win.
The short turnaround between road matches is as short as I've ever seen it. Friday night in Tukwila and only Saturday before facing Timbers 2 tonight. Check out our three questions interview with The Goat Parade's Alicia Ratterree to gain more insight on the OC Blues if you haven't already.
The main player to keep an eye on for OC Blues will be midfielder Didier Crettenand who was crucial in their 2-1 away win vs Sacramento Republic the match before last. And despite the quick break Orange County should still be a talented team to come in and try to get a result.
Watch it: Streamed live on Timbers.com/T2 and embedded in our T2 match thread
Kickoff: Sunday, May 3rd, 6:00pm pacific at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon
Portland Timbers 2: 3-2-1, 10pts, 3rd place in the USL Western Conference
Orange County Blues FC: 3-2-0, 9pts, 6th place in the USL Western Conference