Coach Amos Magee has his Reserve squad ready for San Jose
The images of San Jose defender Ike Opara’s game-winning header in the 120th minute of a U.S. Open Cup play-in game on May 3 at JELD-WEN Field have faded a bit as the Timbers battle through the MLS regular season, but those memories are sure to resurface a bit more on Tuesday as the Earthquakes return to Portland to face the Timbers in an MLS Reserve League match (11am, JELD-WEN FIELD, General Admission tickets only $10).
Opara, who is nursing a foot injury, might not make an appearance, but certainly many of the same Timbers who faced the 'Quakes in May will take to the field for a second time against San Jose.
“We’ve been battling in these reserve games,” Timbers assistant coach and Reserves head coach Amos Magee said. “It’s a great chance for some guys who’ve made some progress in training to have a chance to play and demonstrate that growth in a match situation.”
The Timbers Reserves (1-2-1 overall) enter the match with four points through four reserve games. Forward Eddie Johnson netted a brace on June 5 in a 3-3 draw with the Chivas USA reserve side in Portland’s most recent contest while forward Spencer Thompson leads the reserves with five points (two goals, one assist).
San Jose (3-1-0) is three points behind West Division-leading Seattle and defeated the LA Galaxy reserves 3-0 on June 6 behind two goals from Turkish trialist Sercan Güvenisik.
The halfway mark
Tuesday’s match marks the midway point in the Reserve League season for the Timbers, but without another reserve match until August 7, the tilt against San Jose could serve as an opportunity for several players to earn consideration for playing time in several upcoming international exhibition games (July 7 vs. Club America, July 20 vs. West Bromwich Albion, and July 26 vs. Independiente).
“This is our last reserve game up until August and we’ve got a pretty thick and heavy exhibition schedule against some world heavyweights so this is a last chance for a lot of these guys to prove that they should be playing, and playing regularly, in those exhibition games,” Magee said.
“I’m hopeful that they’re going to do well and we’ll build from the little steps we’ve been taking.”
Working toward the first team
Magee was pleased with the recent play of several reserves ahead of Tuesday’s match and the upcoming exhibition schedule, including Johnson and fellow forward Brian Umony.
Others, such as forward/midfielder Ryan Pore and midfielder Sal Zizzo, have already seen a good amount of first-team minutes, but Magee noted that maintaining their fitness and form through reserve matches is vital.
“We just want to make sure these guys are playing well so when they’re called upon . . . they’re ready,” Magee said.