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T2sday: Another loss, new faces, and Open Cup call-ups

Shorthanded Timbers 2 loses in San Jose, signs two new players, and has three players called up to the first team.

In this week’s edition of Portland Timbers 2 news delivered on a Tuesday: we recap T2’s latest loss down in San Jose, as well as review two new faces to the T2 ranks.

San Jose Earthquakes II vs. Portland Timbers 2: 3-0

Another day, another loss for Timbers 2. On Sunday, T2 went on the road to face San Jose Earthquakes II, and left the Bay Area with a 3-0 loss.

T2 went into the game even more shorthanded than they have been as of late. Because of the travel and schedule of the Timbers first team, the only first-team player loaned down to T2 for the game was goalkeeper Hunter Sulte. In addition, Blake Bodily — who has been consistently loaned down and regularly wears the armband for the Tiny Trees — was ruled out with a hamstring injury. Forward Gerardo Duran and defender Mitch Ferguson were also unavailable from injuries.

And, of course ... Nathan, who had started the past two games for T2, is in the process of getting paperwork cleared so he can join the first team.

Earthquakes II pounced on T2 early, winning a penalty in the 14th minute after a Portland defender took down a San Jose attacker from behind in the box. Because MLS NEXT Pro stream camera angles leave, um, quite a bit to be desired, the identity of the defender was unable to be determined.

In any case, San Jose midfielder Jack Skahan stepped to the spot and slotted the spot kick past Sulte, who guessed the right way and was just a fingertip away from making the stop.

Later in the first half, Earthquakes II would make it 2-0 after a very pretty buildup. ‘Quakes homegrown forward Will Richmond found himself in space on the left wing, which again was not fairly obvious, due to some less than ideal camera work. He shook off 18-year-old Timbers academy right back Vova Kubrakov with a decisive cut back, and found San Jose forward Diego Otoya in the box. Otoya smartly flicked the ball past Sulte with a backheel and into the back of the net to make it 2-0.

T2 tried to push to get back in the game, but never found the back of the net. They managed only seven shots in the game, and just three on target. Without some of their key offensive players, it was an offensive showing to forget for T2.

Hunter Sulte came up big in the second half to make a great reaction save off a stinger of a shot and keep the game somewhat within reach at that point.

San Jose would ultimately find their third goal in the dying minutes, however, as Jerry Ayon finished off a quick counter from the hosts.

Sunday was one of those games where you have to try to find the sliver of positive if you can. The result stung, and the players will surely desire and expect better from themselves. But many young players continued to get consistent game time and learn some important lessons in their developmental journey.

You can read the match summary and watch highlights here.

New T2 Signings

Last week, Timbers 2 announced two new signings. The first was 20-year-old midfielder Johan Hinestroza, who hails from Colombia. He is signed on loan from Colombian side Atlético Nacional. His loan is set to expire at the end of the MLS NEXT Pro season, and it’s unknown if there are options to extend the loan or make it permanent at that time.

Eagle-eyed Timbers fans may remember Hinestroza from the PTFC for Peace game, where he featured for Team Blue.

The second signing was 23-year-old goalkeeper Noah Lawrence. Lawrence was picked by Austin FC in the 2021 MLS SuperDraft, but chose to return to college (The Ohio State University) for his final season. Lawrence spent time with the USMNT U-19 teams, and also with the DC United and New York Red Bull academies.

Lawrence will provide backup and competition for Hunter Sulte, keeping the homegrown ‘keeper on his toes as he continues to develop. He is with the team through the 2022 season.

Hinestroza made his first T2 start on Sunday, playing 68 minutes. Lawrence was on the bench and went unused.

You can read the club’s full press release here.

U.S. Open Cup Call-Ups

As teased by Giovanni Savarese during his pregame media availability, the Portland Timbers announced today that they have called up three T2 players to the Timbers first team for tonight’s U.S. Open Cup clash against LAFC. Those three players are defender Julian Bravo, midfielder Victor Griffith, and midfielder Dawson McCartney.

Per MLS NEXT Pro rules, a club may sign a player from its affiliate (MLS NEXT Pro or USL) to a maximum of four short-term (four days) agreements each season (a maximum of 16 days).

The three players represent options Savarese could call off the bench for depth or potentially even start depending on who needs rest.

Bravo, a tall 21-year-old centerback, has started five of T2’s six games, and he’s been as close to a T2 mainstay as you can get. Griffith, also 21, is a bit of a different story, as he’s only started and appeared in two T2 games — the second of which was cut short by his being shown an 84th minute red card. McCartney, 23, has started and appeared in four T2 games, mostly in active attacking midfield or winger roles.

Closing Notes

  • Sunday was only the second game that T2 has been held scoreless this year. Coincidentally, both games have been against Earthquakes II.
  • I mentioned it a couple of times, but oh my goodness are the camera angles for MLS NEXT Pro streams bad. It is almost impossible to spot specific players in certain stadiums, and when the perspective isn’t a mile away, the quality at times looks like it’s being streamed through a potato.