With Alvas Powell still injured and George Fochive serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation, Jake Gleeson and Steven Evans were the only Timbers players available for Sacramento when they hosted West Bromwich Albion and Pittsburgh Riverhounds last week.
Evans started in both matches, going just one half against the Baggies but playing the full 90 minutes against the Riverhounds.
He did not have the best of games against West Brom. He was nutmegged in the third minute and played a role in the visitors' goal in the 13th minute. While running toward his own goal and fighting for the ball, Evans knocked the ball away toward the center of the field. Unfortunately for him, his attempted clearance fell right to Jaido Berahino at the top of the penalty area who volleyed it past Dominik Jakubek to give the Baggies the lead.
Later in the first half he nearly scored a goal of his own when the ball came to him in the middle of the penalty area off a low corner kick in the 27th minute. His initial shot was blocked by a sliding defender and his follow up found its way through the mass of bodies only to be cleared off the line by another West Brom defender.
Those two shots would prove to be the highlights of Evans' night, as he was subbed off at half time for former Houston Dynamo Academy defender Cristian Gonzalez.
Regarding his time spent in the back four during July's friendly matches, Evans said "I think it's a good experience for me. I know at Portland they had me at left back once or twice last year and I think it's a spot maybe they saw me developing in."
As for whether he would prefer to play fullback more or stick to center midfield he said " I think I'm more comfortable in the central midfield. But every position is a good experience and you can learn and see the field better from every spot."
Luckily for Evans he did not have to wait long to return to his preferred position. He started alongside rookie Octavio Guzman at center mid in Sacramento's 5-0 destruction of Pittsburgh.
While he did not get in on the goal scoring he still played well, hardly putting a foot wrong and helping to control the middle of the field. He and Guzman were able to make it difficult for the Riverhounds to move the ball up the middle and forced them out wide for much of the match.
Evans's best contribution in the first half came in the 32nd minute when he won the ball in his own half to start off a counter attack that resulted in the Republic's second goal of the night. He blocked a pass by a Richmond player that fell to Guzman and just four passes later Thomas Stewart was sending a looping chip up and over a sliding defender and stranded goalkeeper.
Evans had another similar play in the second half, when he stepped up well to win the ball just inside Pittsburgh's half.
After winning the ball he called Stewart off, motioning for him to go forward. He then drove forward into space and hit a fairly well weighted pass for Adam Jahn to run onto and shoot. Unfortunately the San Jose forward's shot was blocked and Evans was denied his first assist of the season.
Jake Gleeson was not as busy as his fellow Timbers loanee. Although he made 4 saves on the night he was not challenged that often, including a save on an indirect free kick inside his penalty area.
The free kick was given after Gleeson picked up a backwards pass from center back Nemanja Vukovic. Gleeson came out as if he expected Vukovic to shield the ball and let him pick it up but he ended up on the receiving end of a short pass instead.
Gleeson did well on the free kick, getting the team into a good position to block a shot. When the initial pass was made he came out bravely to stop the shot, blocking it with his foot.
Just a few minutes later he made another good save, this time on a play that is more common than a penalty area indirect free kick.
A cross from the right wing - the only place that the visitors were threatening - found a Pittsburgh forward alone at the corner of the six yard box. Gleeson did well to get down quick enough to make the save and preserve the shutout, his fourth of the season.
Sacramento's next match is this Saturday in Arizona against Arizona United SC, a team that they are 1-1-1 against. The match kicks off at 7:00 pm and will be available to stream for free on YouTube like all USL PRO league matches.
As always you can (and should) visit Reckless Challenge for more in depth coverage of Sacramento Republic FC and USL PRO as a whole.