For Timbers, chippy tie against Quakes a perfect test
PORTLAND, Ore. – One Timbers Army chant claims there’s “No Pity in the Rose City.”
Perhaps for the next few weeks, they should change it to “No Preseason in the Rose City," because there was nothing preseason about the Portland Timbers' match against the San Jose Earthquakes on a chilly Monday night as 16,118 raucous fans watched the teams play to a chippy 1-1 tie at JELD-WEN Field on the opening night of Portland’s four-team tournament.
“I thought, I mean, for a preseason game to get 15,000 people through the gates is incredible,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “It doesn’t feel like a preseason game, and I think that there’s a lot of positives we can take from the game.”
And if Spencer is looking for a regular-season-type test to see how his transformed roster is shaping up – seven Timbers players played the full 90 – Monday’s game was it.
There were three yellow cards handed out, and the whistle of head referee Drew Fischer blew 31 times. Timbers captain and midfielder Jack Jewsbury even got into it with Earthquakes forward Steven Lenhart at midfield.
“It got a little chippy … but I think that’s good, though,” Jewsbury said. “It’s good to get that going and let everybody know that, even though it’s a preseason game, we want to win these games, especially here at home. That’s the mentality that we want to set throughout the whole team.”
And there was plenty of quality, as well.
Portland midfielder Kalif Alhassan fired a curling shot from the left side of the box past San Jose 'keeper Jon Busch, who, despite making a leaping attempt to try to swat the ball, could only watch it nestle into top shelf for the game’s first goal in the 15th minute.
“I thought it was a tremendous piece of skill,” Spencer said. “I think that the goal was sensational, great goal.”
Both teams recorded five shots on goal, and San Jose just barely outshot Portland, 11-10.
Portland were playing with somewhat of a pared down roster, as three players are on national team duty and two – midfielder Franck Songo’o and freshly arrived Designated Player Kris Boyd – are out with minor injuries.
San Jose’s only tally was an own-goal by the Timbers' newly acquired Colombian defender Hanyer Mosquera. He wrongly deflected a cross by Quakes forward Chris Wondolowski that was headed Lenhart’s way.
“Anytime you get 15, 20,000 people in the crowd, teams step up a bit,” Jewsbury said. “That’s the way the game went. I think it was a good test for us. I thought we did some things well, but on the same token there are definitely some things we need to work on.”
The tournament continues Thursday with Portland facing Chivas USA and San Jose playing Swedish side AIK.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at email@example.com.