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Rotated Timbers lineup falls to Viking FK 1-3 in penultimate preseason game

A lineup of mostly draft picks, trialists, and academy players had their hands full on Wednesday night.

Viking FK v Portland Timbers Photo by Soobum Im/Getty Images

The Portland Timbers lost their penultimate preseason game against Norwegian side Viking FK by a 1-3 margin on Wednesday night at Providence Park. Viking took a two-goal lead through chances created by some frenetic pressing, and draftee Justin Rasmussen pulled one goal back right before halftime off an impressive volley. Pablo Bonilla was shown a red card early in the second half, and Viking managed to add one more goal before the final whistle blew.

As it is still the preseason, the Timbers started a heavily rotated starting lineup, featuring many draft picks and trialists. The highlights included 15-year-old academy player Milo Wray getting the start in midfield, and trialists Juan Pablo Anor and Abraham Bahachille getting nods as well.

The game started off with Viking pressing very high up the field, pressuring the Timbers almost right on the edge of their own eighteen yard box. The Timbers tried to respond in kind, in what was perhaps a reflection of the nature of the starting eleven, and attempted to show as much energy as possible in trying to pressure Viking in the early stages.

Despite their plucky efforts, Viking would deservedly find the first goal. In the 11th minute, a turnover forced in the midfield by Viking’s press turned into an attacking opportunity down the right wing, and the Timbers defense was slow in getting to a low cross put in the box. Viking midfielder Kristoffer Lokberg was first to the ball, and he slotted it past David Bingham and into the net to make 0-1.

The visitors from Norway didn’t look content to settle for just one goal in the first half, and they kept coming in waves at the inexperienced Timbers backline. Draft pick Sivert Haugli, who hailed from the same country as many players on the opposing team, was particularly targeted in the opening frame, and looked to have his hands full with the movement of Viking’s attackers.

Haugli would unfortunately be at blame, at least in part, for Viking’s second goal, as he made contact with a Viking attacker in the box in the 36th minute. The attacker went down, and the referee pointed to the spot. Bingham, however, who had made a few timely saves, stepped up and made a big block on the ensuing penalty kick. But Viking midfielder Kristoffer Lokberg was first to the rebound, heading it home to nab a first half brace and make it 0-2 in favor of the visitors.

It was looking as if the Timbers team was going into the break with a two-goal deficit—until first half stoppage time. In the dying seconds of the first half, Josecarlos Van Rankin sent in a cross from a recycled ball on the right side. The cross was deflected up, and then fell to the waiting chest of 2022 draftee Justin Rasmussen. Rasmussen took the ball off his chest and, on the full volley, lobbed a beauty of a strike over the head of the Viking goalkeeper and into the side netting at the far post.

It was a beauty of a strike and nice little introduction to Timbers fans for one of Portland’s draftees. It also sent the teams into the locker rooms with Viking FK leading 1-2.

The Timbers tried to come out in the second half with energy and pushed for an equalizer. That energy very quickly quelled, however, as halftime substitute Pablo Bonilla was shown a red card for an ill-advised two footed challenge in the 55th minute. Similar to what befell them a few days earlier against Minnesota, the Timbers would have to manage a second half with 10 men—this time for almost 35 minutes.

The shorthanded Timbers tried their hardest to keep Viking at bay, and they looked to get lucky in the 71st minute when spectacular effort from a Viking attacker clanged off the crossbar. But the defense finally broke on the ensuing corner kick, when some miscommunication on the Timbers backline left a Viking player free to bundle the ball home and make it 1-3 in the second half.

The game, and the sparse preseason crowd, livened up in the closing 15 minutes of the game, when regular first team players Dairon Asprilla, Yimmi Chara, and Santiago Moreno subbed on. The Colombian trio were dangerous in the limited attacking possessions the Timbers were able to generate.

Despite some more promising movement from the introduced attackers, the 10-man Timbers were never able to nab another goal, and the final whistle blew with Viking FK netting the two-goal win.

The Timbers preseason preparations wrap up on Saturday, February 19, when they face Real Salt Lake at 5 p.m. in the finale of the Timbers’ Preseason Tournament.