Portland Timbers 2 came into the match against Sacramento Republic tied with their opponents at the top of the West, each with 10 points in five matches. With stout defensive work and complete team performance, they fought Sacramento back and earned a clean sheet, winning 1-0. The victory puts them at the top of the USL Championship — West at 13 points in six matches, with a nice stretch of home games upon which to build on the lead. They played four of the six matches away, and are now at 4-1-1.
Timbers center back Modou Jadama wore the captain’s armband in Renzo Zambrano’s absence. He was joined by Marco Farfan, Eryk Williamson, and Foster Langsdorf in bolstering the T2 ranks on the field, as well as Timbers academy striker Gio Calixtro. The T2 started in a 4-4-2, in contrast to the typical 4-3-2-1 that the side usually employs.
Eryk Williamson played a little deeper in this formation, but still managed to get a couple shots on goal, including a 22nd minute screamer destined for the side of the next if not for a bounding body from the defense. In the 80th minute, his free kick from outside the box went just wide. Williamson’s ball skills were on display throughout the match, with some nice dribbles and a nutmeg (right at the 6:10 mark, in case you’d like to see it). He leads the team in assists, shots, and chances created. Get this guy on the first team, Gio!
Another player to keep an eye on is Gio Calixtro, who has scored two goals in three appearances so far this season.
Villyan Bijev, a former T2 player, entered the game for Sacramento early in the second half. He lasted about 20 minutes before earning two yellow cards and an ejection from the game, bringing his team down to 10 men. In extra time, another player, Charalampos Chantzopoulos, was sent off on a second yellow as well.
Modou Jadama was solid in defense and made a couple attacking runs. In the 26th minute, he dribbled straight up the middle, burning a couple players and playing a perfect ground pass into the box to the waiting feet of new Venezuelan acquisition, Brayan Hurtado, whose shot was blocked by a well-timed tackle.
Just minutes later, in the 28th, a sequence of twelve passes brought the ball up the right side of the field from back to front, and across the top of the box to Hurtado, whose shot was once again blocked from the same place in the box. This time, however, the defender’s arm stopped the ball and, unlike in another Timbers match occurring at the exact same time, it was deemed a penalty. Captain and center back Jadama stepped up and slammed it in for the only goal of the match.
T2 used multiple lanes of attack throughout the match, up both sides and the middle, and managing to out-shoot their opponents 16-8. More impressive than their many scoring opportunities, though, was the defense, which was carried out by more than just the back line — and to a commendable level.
Timbers 2 play four of their next six matches at home at Merlo Field. I strongly encourage you to make it out to cheer them on. The next home match is on Saturday, April 20, at 7 p.m.