A strange game last night at PGE Park, difficult to get my head around, but the Portland Timbers got their first point in the 2006 USL Div 1 season with a 1-1 draw with Vancouver.
In a somewhat surprising turn of events coach Chris Agnello started Chad Bartlomé upfront (Chad having been signed earlier that afternoon) alongside Byron Alvarez. Midfield featured Gutierrez, Kreamalmeyer, Alcaraz-Cuellar, with Lee Morrison playing just in front of a back 4 of Thompson, Goodfellow, Nsien and Randolph.
There will be a full match report later this weekend, but for now the main points.
The Timbers started very unsurely until finding their feet in minute 15 leading to Chad Bartlomé scoring on his debut on 20', putting the rebound away after Whitecaps keeper Wicks could only block Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellars great looping shot. 1-0 Timbers with some players in particular playing well. The aforementioned Bartlomé who was strong, drew fouls well and showed more than a bit of skill; Guti and Luke Kreamalmeyer seemed to be combining well and Goodfellow was looking his assured (but rather laconic) self at the back.
The Timbers carried on their good play until the half, but from then on the wind changed (metaphorically speaking).
On 53' an awful clearance by Goodfellow (who is going to be Mr. Frustrating if he keeps that up all year!) was not picked up by Morrison and Nash's ball into the box, headed out by Thompson was buried by Tony Donatelli to even the score.
Troy Ready replaced Hugo and Bullen replaced Byron later on, and the later stages were pretty evenly matched with some breath holding moments when the Whitecaps Matondo got the ball in the final10 minutes.
All in all a pretty confusing game which I'm sure I'll have more to write about after tonight's game against Minnesota.
The Timbers started their first home game in unsure fashion
, not really settling down until about the 15th minute. Before then defensive nerves
brought Josh Saunders into the game (probably too early for his liking) - down to claim Lyall's cross on 8' and out to save from Jordan on 14' after Nsien let Donatelli in.Bartlomé
got an early look at glory when he headed just over
from Alcarez-Cuellar's cross on 15' and a minute later Byron Alvarez headed a few feet wide from Hugo's 30 yd free kick.Gutierrez and Kreamalmeyer
were working well together at this stage and defensively the Timbers were regaining composure
and on 20' Chad Bartlomé got the perfect start to his Timbers career.
Hugo Alcarez-Cuellar's dipping shot
wasn't held by Wicks in the Vancouver goal and Bartlomé was there to put in the rebound
. 1-0 Timbers.
Danger at the other (MAC) end though on 23' when Lyall's shot
went swinging over the bar.
On 26' Cann and Lyall managed to work the ball free
when the Timbers defence should have cleared and Jeff Clarke's shot
was wide left.
Kreamalmeyer's shot from 25yds was too high on 33' and on 26' Bartlomé drew another foul
this time about 25yds out. Bartlomé got his head on the kick and Lee Morrison
almost got in at the far post.
As half time approached Josh Saunders
was brought into action again. A long throw from the right on 38' found Jason Jordan and his shot on the turn
was met by Saunders diving at his left post.Saunders had to be sharp again
on 41' rushing out to clear, Morris and Clarke colliding, the referee's whistle preventing a promising looking break
by Scot Thompson.
The Timbers must have felt good
going in at the half 1-0 up, but the second half was to prove more of a test.
Bryon Alvarez' cross from the left on 51' almost set up a looming Scot Thompson
at the far post and then the Whitecaps struck back
Jacobi Goodfellow (who apart from this looked stylish
, strong in the air and good at covering) played a nothing kind of ball
into open space, Lee Morrison couldn't tidy up and Thompson could only head Nash's ball into the box out to Donatelli
and his shot beat Saunders to bring Vancouver back into the game.
Coach Agnello replaced Alcarez-Cuellar with Troy Ready
on 58', Luke Kreamalmeyer moving over to the right, Ready playing wide on the left.
On 61' more danger as Lyall's ball over Goodfellow
reached Sebrango and his shot had to be palmed away
With 7 Nation Army
starting in 107, Oral Bullen replaced Byron and Kreamalmeyer robbed Donatelli, but his 25 yd shot was on the floor straight to Wicks
On 74' great tenacity
by Luke Kreamalmeyer in the right corner after a miskick, regaining control and crossing dangerously
replaced Jordan on 75' and on 78' Valente almost got in on goal
after 2 Timbers defenders left the ball, Thompson and Goodfellow rushing back to cover.
More late game danger
on 84' at Goodfellow had to cover back as Matondo bared down
The Timbers held on to the draw (a fair result) and started their weekend with their first point