PORTLAND, Ore. - A spirited, season-high crowd of 11,932 created a festival-like atmosphere on Thursday night at PGE Park, as Mexican club Monarcas Morelia defeated the Portland Timbers 2-0 in an international exhibition match.
Morelia, who competes in Mexico's top-tiered Primera Division, began its preseason tour with the first of three matches in the United States with Thursday's match against the Timbers. Morelia registered both goals in the first half on strikes from forward Luis Angel Landin and defender Jaime Duran.
Morelia featured two members of the Mexican National Team in goalkeeper Moises Munoz, who collected six saves, and defender Omar Trujillo, who aided in the shutout.
New Portland goalkeeper Brad Knighton, who was acquired on loan from Major League Soccer's New England Revolution for the remainder of the season on Wednesday, made five saves, including one on a point-blank rocket by Morelia's Elias Hernandez, in his Timbers debut.
The Mexican side took a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute on a strike from close range by former Mexican U-23 National Team forward Landin. Forward Ever Guzman, Morelia's leading scorer during the 2008 Clausura tournament, delivered a cross into the box through traffic which found Landin slicing through and he poked the ball into the goal just a few yards from the goal line.
Morelia extended its lead later in the half as Duran broke free on a deflected pass and scored his team's second goal of the period. Duran collected a loose ball in the Timbers defensive third that had bounced off a Portland player and into space behind the Timbers' backline. Forcing a one-on-one with Knighton, Duran slotted the ball into the top right corner for a 2-0 lead in the 27th minute.
The Timbers had the first scoring opportunity of the night in the seventh minute as the striking duo of Chris Bagley and Takayuki Suzuki worked the ball into the box. Bagley, with time and space, worked the ball up field and into the box and found a lane for the on-rushing Suzuki into the box. But Bagley's feed was just a step ahead and Munoz was able to stop the opportunity.
Just before the break, midfielder Chris Brown gave himself a chance to pull one back. With a quick move inside, Brown knocked the ball up field into the box and got around his defender. The ball found space in the box and it was a race between Brown and Munoz, but Munoz was the first one there smothering it before Brown could get a toe on the ball.
The Timbers out-shot Morelia in the second half 6-0, and played the final 26 minutes with a one-man advantage as defender Maurico Romero earned his second caution of the half and was sent off.
Portland had their best chance of the night on a free kick by Brown in the 57th minute. A foul just outside the box set up a free kick from 20 yards out just wide of the left post, allowed Brown to launch a shot over the wall aiming for the top far corner, but Munoz was their to punch it away.
In second-half, stoppage time, Timbers substitute Benjamin Totori got a head on a cross but pushed it just wide of the far post. Portland edged Morelia 10-7 in shots on the night.
The Timbers take on Morelia in a second exhibition match on Sunday in Seattle, Wash., at Memorial Stadium at 6 p.m. Tickets are $20 and will be available at the door. Portland returns to PGE Park on July 10 to face the Puerto Rico Islanders at 7 p.m., on Latino Night presented by Cricket Wireless. The first 1,000 fans on July 10 receive a 2008 Timbers team poster.
Notes: Totori made his first appearance since May 30, missing the previous six league games due to an MCL injury ... Portland is now 1-1-0 in international exhibition matches this season ... Midfielder Andrew Gregor made his first appearance in four matches after a hamstring injury on June 12 ... Brown took a team-high four shots against Morelia.
POR: GK Knighton, D S. Thompson, D J. Thompson, D Knowles, D Griffin (Lara, 79), M Dombrowski, M Olum (Higgins, 45), M Guante (Gregor, 65), M, Brown, F Bagley (Totori, 64), F Suzuki
MOR: GK Munoz (Fraga, 89), D Trujillo, D Cervantes, D Romero, D Duran (Cabrera, 73), M Tiago, M Carrasco (Jimenez, 88), M Hernandez (Lucio, 68), F Landin (Salazar, 69), F Ramirez (Guadarrama, 77), Guzman (Cuesta, 79)
MOR: Landin (Guzman), 16
MOR: Duran, 27