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Timbers outlasted by Minnesota United FC in 4-2 loss

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Matthew Wolfe

The Portland Timbers started off strong but could not keep pace with a strong Minnesota United FC attack on Wednesday night, losing 4-2 to the side they will face on opening day.

The Timbers found their first chance of the match in the 13th minute after some high pressure up the pitch from Renzo Zambrano forced the visitors to cough up a corner kick. On the restart Eryk Williams sent a curling ball into the Loons’ box that dropped at the far post and found the head of the leaping Julio Cascante for a powerful header that forced Minnesota keeper Gregory Ranjitsingh to palm the ball away, spilling it in the box. With the ball bouncing tantalizingly in front of him, Andy Polo struck a volleyed shot but could not get it past the defender closing him down.

In the 29th minute the Timbers broke through. After receiving the ball in space on the left wing Dairon Asprilla, wearing the captain’s arm band, carried the ball toward the top of the Minnesota box. With the Loons defenders slow to step to him, Asprilla cut inside onto his right foot and hit a thunderous shot toward goal, sending a swerving ball on target that Ranjitsingh could only wave at as it flew past him.

The visitors would equalize in the 35th minute when a series of miscues along the Timbers’ right flank led to a rolling Mason Toye cross squeaking through the box and finding fullback Raheem Edwards arriving at the far post. With the Timbers still spinning in place, Edwards hammered home a close range finish to even up the score.

The momentum stayed with the visitors through halftime and, in the 53rd minute, Minnesota took the lead. Moments after breaking up an attempted Timbers push forward, the Loons struck on the counter attack, catching the Timbers off balance and with men committed forward. Breaking down the pitch with a man advantage, Minnesota found Toye on the Timbers’ right and where the big man took the ball to the end line before chipping it up and over the box to find Edwards again arriving at the back post for the header to finish off the move and put Minnesota up 2-1.

Things went from bad to worse in the 63rd minute when the visitors extended their lead. After a low-angle shot toward the far post from Aaron Schoenfeld forced Aljaz Ivacic into a sprawling save, the rebound fell neatly to Minnesota designated player Thomas Chacon in the Timbers box. After a neat cut-back around a sliding Timbers defender, Chacon calmly played a side-footed ball into the corner of the net to give his side a two goal lead.

The Timbers appeared to be waving the white flag when, after Minnesota brought in their starting XI, the visitors scored their fourth of the night. After a bouncing ball caromed off Cascante in the midfield, Minnesota winger Ethan Finlay sped through the Timbers back line and latched onto the ball, carrying it forward and slotting it home past Ivacic to finish off the Timbers’ reserves.

Where the Loons brought on a mass of starters, the Timbers brought on a number of T2 players and academy prospects and, in the 84th minute, they managed to pull one back. After a series of quick passes through the midfield the Timbers found T2 signee Ken Krolicki in space outside the box. After taking the measure of the goal, Krolicki fired a rising shot toward goal that had Ranjitsingh rooted the ground as it hit the back of the net and cut the Minnesota lead to 4-2.

The Timbers will finish out their preseason on Saturday when they will face off against the New England Revolution and begin their final week of preparations for their March 1st season opener against Minnesota.