They don't give out trophies for preseason superiority, but if they did, the Timbers would certainly be in the running to have their name etched on some hardware.
Sure, it'd probably be some sort of silver-lined shot glass, but hardware is hardware, right?
Whatever the case, Portland has yet to lose a preseason match in its Major League Soccer history, going 2-0-5 last year and 3-0-2 so far in 2012. And that rather pointless perfection will be on the line tonight, as the Timbers host Chivas USA in a 7:30 p.m. preseason match at Jeld-Wen Field.
More than 16,000 fans packed the House of Pane on Monday, greeting their heroes for the first time this year with a regular-season-type atmosphere befitting the Rose City's reputation as Soccer City, USA. Tonight, the crowd will likely won't live up to Monday's lofty standard—many fans will be saving their voices for Sunday's main event/tournament finale between Portland and Swedish first-division stalwart AIK—but luckily for you, my bloggage is unlimited.
So click past the jump and join me (won't you?) as I deftly describe all the action, on and off the pitch.
The stands are decidedly less full tonight compared to Monday. Timbers Army is filling in, but not quite to the rafters just just yet. The PORTLAND spelled out on the east grandstand is quite visible.
Chivas USA—Tim Melia in goal. Scott Gordon, David Junior Lopes, Rauwshan McKenzie and Ante Jazic on defense. Nick LaBrocca, Ben Zemanski, Alan Souza and Laurent Courtois at midfield. Cesar Romero and Casey Townsend up front.
Portland—Jake Gleeson in goal. Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Andrew Jean-Baptiste and Chris Taylor on defense. Freddie Braun, Jack Jewsbury, James Marcelin and Brent Richards at midfield. Bright Dike and Sebastian Rincon at forward.
Stadium has filled in pretty well as we're about to kick off. Timbers Army making up for a few less bodies with plenty of noise.
And away we go ...
1st minute—Braun with a burst of speed down the east sideline, but a Goat defender makes a tackle and gives Portland the first corner of the night. Jewsbury sends it in and Dike gets a head on it, but nothing doing. Brunner—returning from injury—comes up with a slight limp.
3rd—Taylor knocks a long pass forward for Dike, who earns another PTFC corner after Chivas knocks it over the goal line from behind. Rincon show some serious speed chasing down the action.
5th—Palmer with a long ball, and again it's the speedy Rincon trying to chase it down. Nice wheels from the 18-year-old Colombian.
7th—Timbers controlling possession early, biding their time and passing it around their back line.
8th—Courtois with a nice move in the corner to make room for a cross, but Marcelin is there to boot it away.
9th—Palmer fires one from 30 yards out after Richards makes a run. It's a bullet, but Melia is there to pop it up and handle it.
11th—Taylor plays one through to Jewsbury, but Melia cuts off Cap'n Jack and the it's a goal kick for the Goats.
12th—Souza with a nice move in the box to crack a shot, but it's well high. A nice look that he'd like to have back, I'm sure.
13th—Braun fakes out his defender to make some space and sends a cross into Richards, but it's high. Goal kick for Chivas coming, but a decent look for Braun. Goal kick comes and Brunner goes up for the 50/50 and down in a heap holding his face (NOT HIS FACE!!!!). Eric rolls around a bit, but it appears he's fine.
14th—Dike with a steal and a cross for Jewsbury, but Jack's header is wide.
15th—Taylor plays a great ball for Dike, who comes back for it and turns at the top of the box. He goes down and ref raises his arm, but in the wrong direction if you're sitting in Timbers Army. Bright called for the foul and the crowd disagrees.
18th—Marcelin makes a steal to set up a long ball for Rincon. Melia gets to it first, though, and punches it away. Rincon's speed pestering the Goats plenty here early.
20th—Braun fights hard for possession in front of the benches, but pokes it out of bounds.
21st—CHIVAS USA GOAL—A beautiful goal for the Goats. Cesar Romero re-directs a Souza cross and pounds it into the back of the net. Portland trails for the first time this preseason. 1-0 Goats.
22nd—Goats almost get another one as Townsend sends an awkward header into the air in front of the net. Gleeson leaps to grab it, but it's nervous time at the moment for Portland.
23rd—Dike sneaks in to blocks Melia's goal kick (love it when that happens), but the Timbers can't capitalize.
24th—Rincon again shows his speed down the east sideline and gets into the box, but Townsend with a nice tackle and it's a Chivas USA goal kick coming.
26th—Palmer with a long, skidding pass to Dike, who makes a nice turn and blasts one from 15 yards out. Awkward angle, though, and Melia has it covered.
28th—Rincon with a nice pass to Dike, who gets behind the defense until Jazic pokes it away from behind. Melia comes out to nab it, and Bright leaps over him.
30th—Taylor working hard along the left side the box and earns a corner kick for Portland. Jewsbury sends it in, but it's nothing doing as Dike is called for a foul in the box.
32nd—Taylor with a lofting pass for Rincon, and the Chivas defender is forced to clear it over the goal line. Jewsbury sends the corner kick in low, and Melia is there to punch it away.
33rd—Braun and Souza battling for the ball and Freddie knocks down Alan and is called for a foul. He then blasts one toward the crowd, but it hits a Goat defender. Ref gives Braun a talking to, but no yellow.
34th—Chivas USA corner comes in, and after one header, McKenzie beats Gleeson to the ball and puts one on-goal. Taylor is there, though, for a huge save.
35th—Another Goats corner and again, Gleeson is unable to get to it. Marcelin is there to clear it. Gleeson clearly frustrated, and it's easy to see why—he's not having his best performance.
36th—Courtois called for a handball and after a quick restart, Rincon tries to sneak one into the box for Jewsbury. Melia is there, however, and Cap'n Jack comes up limping a bit.
39th—Taylor and Dike showing some grit battling for the ball in the box, but the Goats are able to clear.
42nd—Braun knocked down about 40 yards out and the Timbers will have a free kick.
43rd—Jewsbury sends it in long, and Melia chases it down to head it over the goal line. Corner kick for Portland coming. Another Jewsbury service, and again Melia is there to jump up and pull it in.
45th—One minute of extra time ... Timbers can't mount much of an attack, but as we wind down, Townsend and Jean-Baptiste nearly throw down in the southwest corner. No cards, but a bit of a dust-up to end the half.
HALFTIME: Chivas USA leads 1-0 after a rather disjointed opening 45 for Portland. A Jean-Baptiste mis-clear sets up the lone goal, and Portland is in danger of dropping its first preseason game to an aggressive Goats side. Some halftime stats: Chivas out-shot Portland 6-4 and had four shots on goal two the Timbers' two. Two saves for each keeper and five corner kicks for Portland.
Joe Bendik will step into goal for Portland. Diego Chará enters to replace Jewsbury.
And we're back at it ...
47th—Romero with a run up the middle and eventually, Lahoud gets it. Braun with a nice steal and the Timbers are off and running.
48th—Palmer with a shot from the right corner, but Melia is on it.
49th—Braun beats a couple defenders inside midfield. His play has been a bright spot tonight.
50th—Angel with a shot from the top of the box, and Bendik is there to gather it in.
52nd—Brunner with a long ball for the speedy Rincon, but it's a bit long. Some nice quick passing from Chivas USA.
53rd—Gordon with a long cross and Richards with a nice takeaway. Just as the crowd is acknowledging it, however, he makes a bad pass and Chivas picks up possession. Timbers have come out flat so far in the second half.
54th—LaBrocca cracks a shot through traffic, but it's wide. Timbers not playing with much aggression on defense.
57th—Richards with a bad touch at the top of the box and gives it away. That leads to a Goat counter, and Lahoud fires one from about 25 yards out. It's well high, though, and Bendik lines up a goal kick.
58th—Portland is either being really patient or they can't find much of an offense. Richards having a rough night with a couple of bad passes in as many minutes. Newly signed Ryan Kawulok enters for Palmer.
59th—Rincon with a nice run and some pretty dancing deep in the Goats' end. Timbers get a corner kick, and Chará sends it in to Kawulok. Brunner gets a crack at it, but it's deflected and cleared.
60th—Another Portland corner, and it's played short to Braun, who can't get a shot off. Richards tries a fadeaway header, but Melia is there to grab up on a bounce. Timbers are picking it up a bit.
63rd—Timbers send it back to Bendik for the third time this half. An active Chivas USA defense covering the angles and frustrating Portland.
65th—Goats free kick coming from 40 yards out after Bolanos goes down. He sends it in and Kawulok heads it away.
66th—Kalif Alhassan enters for Richards, who's had a bit of a rough night.
67th—Long pass from Chará goes to Kawulok, who gathers it in nicely. He looks to cross, but it's waaaaay long.
68th—Here comes the rain. That's not good for anybody. A poor Brunner pass is taken by Lahoud, but the Timbers force the Goats to retreat.
69th—A nice pass into the box for Lahoud, who crosses to nobody in particular. Brunner clears and a long ball is played for Dike, who gets twisted up with a Goat defender and can't get to it.
71st—Gordon with a long shot from near midfield and Bendik has to go inside his goal to gather it in. He keeps his arms over the right side of the line, though, and Portland is lucky to not give up another score.
72nd—Kawulok crosses to Dike, but it's too high for Bright.
73rd—Another cross into the box for Dike, but again it's too high. Timbers showing a bit of life, but still pretty sloppy overall. Rain falling pretty steadily.
75th—Alhassan draws a foul 40 yards out and Jorge Perlaza enters for Rincon. Free kick from Alhassan goes to the near post, but it's cleared before Jean-Baptiste can get to it.
76th—Taylor with a giveaway to Lahoud, but the Portland defense gets back before damage is done. Sloppy stuff again for Portland.
77th—Taylor with a cross for Dike, but his header is popped up. Timbers get a corner kick.
78th—TIMBERS GOAL—Alhassan sends the corner kick in skidding and Kawulok is there to knock it in low and right. He turns to the crowd to point to the back of his jersey, and on the day he's signed, Kawulok scores a goal to tie it up, 1-1.
80th—Tonight's attendance is 15,195. Two long balls for Kawulok have the same result—goal kicks for Chivas USA. Crowd has picked up as Portland looks to steal a win here late.
83rd—Braun finds Perlaza in the right corner, who gets it to Alhassan. He finds Kawulok along the right side, but Ryan is offside. Too bad, too, because he crosses it in and Dike pounds it into the back of the net after the whistle.
86th—Chivas USA playing conservatively, not letting Portland get much going. Timbers doing much of the possession, but they have few places to go.
87th—Taylor does a nice job to keep a long pass in and as he runs into the corner, he fires a nice cross all the way down the goal line. Nobody's there, but it's a great cross from Taylor, who's had a solid showing tonight.
88th—Chará plays one into the box, but there's nobody home.
89th—Timbers possessing in the backfield and the Goats doing a nice job holding strong.
90th—Timbers with a throw in front of the Chivas bench, but the Goats D continues to thwart the Timbers' offense.
Two minutes of extra time ... Chará with an interception and pass to Perlaza, but it's behind him ... Another throw in front of the Goats' bench and after Chivas steals it, Alhassan commits a foul. Goal kick won by Brunner, who heads it forward.
FULL TIME—Timbers salvage a 1-1 draw in a rather sloppy performance. It's the second straight tie for Portland in this preseason tourney.
Some final stats: The Goats out-shot the Timbers 9-8 and had six shots on goal to Portland's four. Portland had eight corner kicks, while Chivas USA had two. Gleeson and Bendik tallied two saves a piece. Portland out-fouled Chivas 10-8. The most important stat of all? Portland remains undefeated in preseason play as an MLS franchise. The silver shot glass is within reach!
An overall sloppy night that matched the rainy second-half weather for Portland. Granted, the lineup fielded by John Spencer tonight probably won't be the one we see much of the season, with youngsters Richards, Rincon and Taylor more likely to see this kind of time with the reserves. But it was a great night for Ryan Kawulok, who signed his first professional contract this afternoon, and hours later, scored his first professional goal. He called the goal "almost dream come true" as he was surrounded by reporters in the locker room post-game.
"This was a great day, I couldn't have asked for anything better," said Kawulok, who celebrated the goal by turning his back to the cheering crowd and pointing both thumbs to the back of his jersey. "After that ball went in, I didn't even know what to do. I was so happy, it was a great feeling.
"Hopefully people can know how to spell my name right now, or know how to pronounce it."
Tell me about it, kid.
And speaking of names not easily pronounced, the Timbers host Swedish club Allmänna Idrottsklubben—better known as AIK—
7 p.m. 5 p.m. Sunday in the tournament finale. If you're not one of the 20,000+ expected to pack Jeld-Wen Field, check back here for more high-pitched live blog action. Until then ...
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