Welcome back to T2sday! Your weekly recap of the results and goings-on of Portland Timbers 2, the Timbers reserve team playing in the MLS NEXT Pro reserve league, delivered every Tuesday.
This week: T2 falls in Texas, and who has been standing out for the team so far?
4/16: Houston Dynamo 2 vs. Portland Timbers 2: 4-1
While the Portland Timbers first team might have found a modicum of success in Houston with a scoreless draw against the Dynamo, Portland Timbers 2 was not as fortunate.
T2 fell flat on the same field the first team played on just hours before they did, and dropped a result to the first place Houston Dynamo 2 (impressively nicknamed DynaDos) by the scoreline of 4-1.
The game was significant as, for the first time in the MLS NEXT Pro season, T2’s roster was filled with primarily T2 and academy players. For the three games the developmental side has played thus far, there have been a plethora of first team players loaned down to round out the roster. Due to the timing of the game, (it kicked off just hours after the MLS game did) that was not as possible this match. The only two first team players loaned down were Blake Bodily and Hunter Sulte. Neither of the two were named to the first team earlier that day, so it suggests that they were always intended to get minutes last weekend with the Tiny Trees.
*Once again, a reminder that number 72 listed above is SuperDraft pick Julian Bravo — not Claudio Bravo.
The scoring got started in the 28th minute when Dynamo 2 attacker Marcelo Palomino worked his way away from his defender and buried a low shot past Sulte. Houston added a second just before halftime, when Papa Ndoye was first to a through ball, and slipped it past Sulte to double the hosts’ advantage.
Out of halftime, T2 scrapped one back to try to make things interesting. Selmir Miscic, a 19 year old midfielder, who spent time in the Philadelphia Union academy system, drove into the Houston box on a slaloming run. He passed to Jamin Gogo Peters, and the forward quickly gave the ball back to Miscic with a nifty backheel. Miscic was taken down by a sliding Dynamo 2 defender before he could get his shot away, and the referee pointed to the spot and awarded a penalty kick to T2.
Bodily stepped up, and buried the penalty shot in the bottom corner to make it 2-1.
The comeback was short-lived however, as Dynamo 2 quickly added a third goal in the 59th minute with a shot from distance by current MLS NEXT Pro leading scorer Roberto Avila. Dynamo 2 added the finishing touch with a fourth goal in the 88th minute to put the affair to bed.
It was a rough outing for Shannon Murray’s young side, but it must be mentioned that their opponents are the current class of the league. Dynamo 2 are currently the top team in MLS NEXT Pro, undefeated and have yet to drop any points in their four games played. They remained perfect on Saturday, and showed their quality while doing so.
You can view full highlights and the match report here.
Early Season Standouts
Despite that fact that T2 has yet to win three points in a match, there have been some players that have stood out for their performances thus far.
Blake Bodily, first team Homegrown player, has acted as captain in every T2 game thus far. He notched his second goal of the season on Saturday, and leads the team in goals in this very young MLS NEXT Pro season. He also leads the teams in shots, shots on target, and key passes. In short, he has been the standout offensive player for T2 so far.
The fact that Bodily is standing out offensively for T2 shouldn’t necessarily be a surprise, as he is one of the players on the roster with the most first team experience. But for a player that has never really gotten a run out with the first team, it’s encouraging to see him find offensive success with T2, even if the results haven’t been there yet.
Outside of Bodily, the only other player who has scored is academy player Jamin Gogo Peters. The forward scored T2’s first goal of the season two weeks ago against Whitecaps 2, and made the slick backheel in the game last weekend to earn the penalty. He’s young, only 18 years of age, but he’s shown flashes of danger in the box. He could potentially be one of the talents to watch develop on T2 this year, and in years to come.
As for the defensive side... well it’s been a rough go for a team that has now conceded eight goals over three games played. T2 is a team that is forming its defensive identity, and is clearly still gelling defensively.
One of the only constants in the back has been Homegrown goalkeeper Hunter Sulte. While not boasting the best goals against number, Sulte has made 14 saves so far this season. When considering the number of shots he’s faced, that is a respectable number. It is fair to wonder if T2’s goals against number would be even larger were it not for Sulte in the back.
T2 is clearly a work in progress and has a lot of development to do but at the end of the day, that’s their goal. The team exists to win games, of course, but it also exists to help prepare players with potential develop and prove they are ready to step into the first team environment. Players like Gogo Peters or Sulte, who may one day have a role to play on the first team, are getting the chance to get professional minutes and learn. And a player like Bodily, who has been on the fringes of the first team for a season or so now, is getting the chance to prove that he has the quality to be ready to step into Giovanni Savarese’s side and provide an impact.