Portland Timbers 2 started off with such promise, rattling off three straight wins to kick off their first ever USL season. Recently, however, T2 have been in a slump, winning only one game out of their last six and struggling to put together the same sort of dynamic performances that saw them dominate their early games.
Now, however, T2 find themselves entering a competition where their only choice is to win when the play the USL PDL's Michigan Bucks tonight in the early rounds of the US Open Cup.
Heading to Pontiac, MI and getting set to play at Ultimate Soccer Arenas on a field of old AstroTurf in a place that was described to me as looking suspiciously like the rec yard of a prison, T2 will need to remember how to win. Facing off against a group of college players reminiscent of the Timbers' own U-23s, T2 will be coming up against a group of opponents with something to prove and looking to take a win of of a team of professionals.
For their part, T2 will be without some of their key contributors for this match as Taylor Peay, Andy Thoma, Nick Besler, and Jake Gleeson have all been recalled to the first team in order to preserve their Open Cup status. On Schillo Tshuma, who was not on hand at today's first team training session, seems likely to play in the Open Cup as a member of T2.
The match will require T2 to give chances to a number of players in positions that they are no necessarily known for. Players like Matt Rose, Steven Evans, and Seth Casiple could get their chances at serious minutes with T2 for the first time in this match.
Watch it on: Streaming here.
Kickoff: 4:30 pm pacific at Ultimate Sports Arenas in Pontiac, MI
Portland Timbers 2: 3-3-2, 7th in the USL Western Conference
Michigan Bucks: 1-0-0 in the USL PDL