For the first time ever, Timbers 2 took a trip down to Texas to face off against expansion side Austin Bold FC.
After 90 grueling minutes in the southern heat, T2 was rewarded with a hard-earned point after coming back from a two-goal deficit. However, if it weren’t for keeper Kendall McIntosh, they could have easily made the trek back to the pacific northwest with nothing to show for it.
Eryk Williamson and Todd Wharton netted for T2 as they fought back and retained their undefeated record against Austin teams both past and present.
Andre Lima (19’)
Both teams traded blows early with T2 receiving two great counter-attacking opportunities that they fluffed. On the other end, Kris Tyrpak gave T2 a gift by sending the ball over an empty net from inside the box. In the 19th minute, Austin Bold FC finally made T2 rue those two missed chances as a Kris Tyrpak cross found the tallest player on the pitch, Andre Lima, wide open and completely unmarked in the middle of the 18.
Keeper Kendall McIntosh could do nothing as the defense left him stranded against the towering forward. Lima was able to peel off the back of Harold Hanson who fell asleep for just a second. That was enough for Lima to get all the space he needed, and Farfan was too far away to help. The T2 defense should have been better in that situation to at least stay with their marker, and Austin made them pay.
Kris Tyrpak (33’)
For the second time in the match, the Bold scored a goal courtesy of a free header. After great combination play around the top of the box, Sean McFarlane got the ball out wide and passed it into Sonny Guadarrama who served it to the back post where reigning USL Championship player of the week, Tyrpak, found the back of the net for the fourth time in two games.
Throughout the first half, Austin did a great job of taking advantage of their possession and were able to find two goals off of great crosses into the box. Once again, something needs to be said about the T2 defense that allowed yet another Bold runner to go unmarked in the box.
Eryk Williamson (44’)
After falling behind two goals, T2 finally woke up and found a huge, momentum-changing goal right before halftime.
After picking the ball up from the back, Williamson weaved through the Bold defense like it was a block of swiss cheese before playing a give and go with Foster Langsdorf who found Williamson back in the box. All he had to do from there was cut it back and slam the ball into the back of the net with power.
After conceding twice early on, Williamson’s goal sparked T2 and gave the team at least a little bit of momentum heading into the break while relieving the Bold pressure.
Todd Wharton (81’)
T2 faced wave after wave of Austin attacks before finally weathering the storm.
In the 81st minute, forward Todd Wharton deflected the ball in the attacking third which Langsdorf picked up and fired into Bold keeper Diego Restrepo. Restrepo wasn’t able to hold onto the ball, and the rebound came right back to Wharton who rifled the ball back into the net.
After McIntosh stood on his head time and time again, the late effort by Wharton proved to be a huge goal that salvaged a road point in the Texas heat.
Losing their mark
The first half saw T2 be dominated in the attacking third by Austin. Time after time, the Bold found themselves unmarked as they made runs into the box.
The two goals given up by T2 were a result of a defender losing his marker and allowing him time and space to go up for a free header. For a team like Austin that enjoys having possession (57% in Saturday’s game) and knows how to unlock a defense, allowing them possession in dangerous areas was a recipe for disaster.
The Bold won 56.5% of their duels with 28 crosses being fired in at a near 50 percent accuracy. Leaving Lima, who looked taller than any T2 defender, unmarked was surely poor defensive execution. While Tyrpak’s goal was harder to get off, he still found a way to find plenty of space at the back post where he just had to nod the ball in.
Near the end of the first half, Austin put yet another ball into the back with the same formula: a perfectly weighted cross into the box which was headed home. Luckily for T2, the play was ruled offsides.
Allowing Austin to have so much possession without a high line of confrontation was a risky move by coach Cameron Knowles. Luckily, after some shaky defending, T2 was able to get back on track and find their way back into the game.
Trapped at the back
With Austin’s tendency to try and maintain possession, T2 somehow had to find a way to spring their attackers into space. Early on, it wasn’t working as T2 found themselves pinned into their own half for much of the game.
To break up the Bold defense, T2 had to find a way to get their attackers with the ball behind the back line. As they were settling into the game, T2 had two great opportunities to score as they directly attacked a discombobulated Bold backline. However, once the game settled down, they had a hard time finding those opportunities again throughout the night.
As you can see from the positional map below, Austin (tan) had T2 (black) pinned back for most of the night while they were forced to pass it around out wide once they received the ball. They had eight players with an average position in the attacking half while T2 only had six.
And while T2 was able to maintain possession in the back or around midfield, they weren’t able to do a lot with the ball in attacking possessions. When they were able to find success, it was when they played short balls in midfield before picking out a key pass, not playing direct and hitting long balls down the flank.
Austin did a good job of sticking to their possession-oriented gameplan, and it seemed to puzzle T2 in the first half. While the Bold still looked like the more dominant team in the second half, T2 was able to take advantage of the opportunities that they received and got a point because of it.
McIntosh stands on his head
If it weren’t for McIntosh standing on his head, especially in the second half, T2 would not have found a way to claw back in and get a result. The young Californian was nothing short of unstoppable as he parried away shot after shot and hauled in cross after cross.
He started the second half with a great leaping save to deny Austin a match-sealing goal. Later on, he was faced with a one-on-one and made the stop by sliding to the ground and making himself big. And again, seconds before Wharton scored the equalizer, he made a spectacular double-save which included saving the second effort from the ground.
And to wrap it all up, McIntosh leaped into the air to push away a strong shot in front of goal that was destined for the top corner.
It was a night to remember for McIntosh who faced 25 shots (ten on target) and finished with five saves in the second half. He will surely be haunting the dreams of Bold attackers tonight.
With the road point, T2 is in a four-way tie for second place in the Western Conference with 23 points. Now they will come back to Providence Park where they will take on Fresno FC on Sunday the 16th.