Portland Timbers Football Club started with a largely second choice eleven against New York Red Bulls II, intending to give their reserves and bench players the bulk of the minutes in Wednesday’s preseason match.
Red Bulls II started the match with a fair bit of early pressure, Ben Mines forcing Jake Gleeson into making the first save of the match. However, it was the Timbers who brought the scoring to a quick start with a goal in the 10th minute when Victor Arboleda broke through on the right side and dribbled into the box before cutting back to find Samuel Armenteros who played a slick square pass to Andy Polo who slotted home, one-nil.
Arboleda wasn’t satisfied with the hockey assist, and just two minute later he broke through again, this time getting on the end of a ball over the top from Zarek Valentin. Once again finding himself in the NYRBII penalty area, he played a square ball across goal to Armenteros whose first shot was blocked by sliding centerback Hassan Ndam, but the rebound came right back to Armenteros who tapped it in to bring the Timbers’ early lead up to two goals.
The Timbers saw a few brief injury scares in the first half, first when centerback Bill Tuiloma landed awkwardly and received attention to his ankle from Timbers trainer Taichi Kitagawa in the 23rd minute. Shortly afterwards, in the 30th minute, it was Armenteros being looked at by the trainer following a foul by RB Academy player John Murphy. Both players were able to come back on to the field and continue play.
In the 35th minute, Ben Mines earned a wide free kick just outside the Timbers’ box. Murphy took the set piece and placed a low cross just in front of the Timbers’ goal, but it was cleared out easily by Armenteros. RBII’s best chance of the half came from the following corner, after a good flick-on led to a driven header which forced Jake Gleeson into an impressive reaction save.
Kitagawa was called on yet again in the 39th minute after Marco Farfan sat down with a cramp in his left leg, but Farfan was quickly able to resume play after a bit of stretching.
The Timbers continued to pressure the RBII goal through the 45th minute when Farfan drew a foul just outside the corner of the opposing penalty box. Jack Barmby and Andres Flores stood over the ball and played a short-passing set piece routine which ended in Flores taking a shot high and wide over the scoreboard with the last touch of the half.
Play resumed in the second half with the scoreline still at two-nil, and the Timbers subbing out their left side to bring on Vytas and Dairon Asprilla. Asprilla, firmly a right winger, played on his familiar side while Arboleda swapped over to the left wing. Five minutes into the half, Tuiloma could continue on his earlier knock no more, and Modou Jadama subbed on to replace him at left center back.
Asprilla had an immediate impact on the match, becoming the focal point for the Timbers’ attack and creating multiple chances in the first fifteen minutes of the second half.
In the 60th minute, Arboleda asserted himself on the match once again, picking up on a heavy touch from the RBII right back, then blazing past multiple defenders and sinking a narrow-angle shot into side-netting to bring the lead to three. After the goal, both teams made a couple more substitutions with the Timbers bringing on Kendall McIntosh on for Gleeson, and Jeremy Ebobisse for Armenteros.
Unfortunately for the Timbers, they would be unable to hold a clean sheet past the 68th minute. A cross from RBII’s left side found it’s way through to Vytas who tried to play the ball back to McIntosh, but mis-touched it and popped his pass up into the top corner of the goal past his keeper. The Timbers made another change after the own goal, bringing Eryk Williamson on for Cristhian Paredes.
The most anticipated event of the match came in the 73rd minute when Jack Barmby subbed out for Diego Chara, pushing swiss-army midfielder Flores up to the attacking midfielder position. Chara had yet to see preseason minutes in 2018 due to his broken foot suffered in last year’s playoff match in Houston.
The scoring looked to be over, but in the 90th minute the Timbers struck again. A short corner routine led to Vytas putting in a looping ball across the goal mouth to Ebobisse who volleyed a hard shot at the near post. Scott Levene was able to save the shot, but the onrushing Flores collected the rebound in time to play a square ball back to Cascante who easily tapped it in, bringing the score to 4-1 in the Timbers’ favor. Referee Toleda took a brief moment while his Video Assistant Referee checked for an offside on the final goal, but no infringement was found and the final whistle came immediately after the restart.
The Timbers’ final preseason match will be on Saturday; their opponent will be determined by the final standings of the Mobile Mini Sun Cup.