Timbers win their Portland 2020 preseason debut
Diego Valeri and Andy Polo scored goals Sunday as the Portland Timbers beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 in a MLS preseason match in front of an announced crowd of 13,882 at Providence Park.
What it means: Not much. It is preseason, after all, though the Timbers are now 4-0 in these practice games leading up to their March 1 season opener.
How they scored: Valeri converted a PK in the 34th minute. Vancouver's Lucas Cavallaini tied it with a nice diving header in the 39th minute. Polo scored 17 seconds after coming on at halftime. A smiling Polo admitted he was trying to send a cross into the box from deep on the right wing but Vancouver goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau was well off his line and had no chance when the ball swerved into the side netting.
First impressions: Three of the starters — Yimmi Chara, Felipe Mora and Dario Zuparic — were among six Portland players who made Providence Park debuts. All three are likely to be in the opening day lineup. Mora, at striker, was pretty active, had some nice connecting moments, and drew the foul that led to Valeri's first-half penalty kick. With Jeremy Ebobisse, who played the final 15 minutes, and new designated player Jaroslaw Niezgoda, not yet fit, Mora has the first shot to make a strong impression up top. … Goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic played the second half made two saves, one a nice diving stop, in his Providence Park debut.
• It was the Timbers first game this preseason on Providence Park's artificial surface and that was evident as players adjusted to the pace and the bounce of the ball. Newcomer Yimmi Chara said it's a significant adjustment from playing on grass.
"It's much faster," he said through an interpreter. "So it's very difficult to be able to (trap) the ball. You have to run faster. The ball moves faster."
Starting lineup: Goalkeeper Steve Clark; defenders Jorge Moreira, Larrys Mabiala, Zuparic, Jorge Villafana; central midfielders Diego Chara, Cristhian Paredes; attacking midfielders Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco, Yimmi Chara; forward Mora. Most of the Timbers starting XI played 75 minutes as the projected starters build fitness.
Coach Giovanni Savarese said: "I think the team looked sharp. I think the team was confident with the ball. I think we had great moments, but also we have to get better in some areas as well, offensively and defensively. It's still preseason."
Also Sunday: Minnesota United and New England played to a 2-2 draw to open the Timbers Preseason Tournament.
Up next: On Wednesday Portland faces Minnesota at 7:30 p.m. (approximate), following a 5 p.m. match between Vancouver and New England. Savarese didn't commit to lineup decisions, but it makes sense that a lineup of reserves/T2 players will see much of the Wednesday action, with the first-choice XI getting a final roll out on Saturday against the Revolution.
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