The Portland Timbers will play host to Monarcas Morelia of the Mexican League first division on Wednesday, July 3 at 8 p.m. at JELD-WEN Field in the inaugural Copa Verde (Bilingual Webstream).
Morelia is currently in the middle of the Liga MX offseason, having reached the quarterfinals last year. Five years ago to the day, the Timbers and Morelia met in Portland and battled in a 2-0 Monarcas win. This time the two teams will be squaring off in the inaugural Copa Verde, a game that promotes competition between top-flight teams while raising money to support local Mexican youth education initiatives.
Here are four notable Morelia players that fans can expect to see on July 3rd.
Federico Vilar (above)
Nicknamed “El Jefe,” or “The Chief,” Vilar has emerged as one of the best goalkeepers in Liga MX since joining the league in 2003. Vilar, 36, captained Morelia to a fourth-place finish during the 2013 Clausura campaign, starting all 18 games.
Born in Junín, Argentina, which has produced several other prominent soccer figures, Vilar is a product of the Boca Juniors development system (1993-2000).
- Vilar rose to prominence in Liga MX during his time with Atlante (2009-10). He had one of his most successful seasons in 2007, leading Atlante to the 2007 Apertura championship and being named the 2007 Goalkeeper of the Year.
Following Atlante’s championship-winning campaign in 2007, Vilar published a book called, “El Arco de la Vida,” in which he shapes his views on the different playing styles of goalkeepers in world football.
Vilar led Atlante’s run to the 2008-09 CONCACAF Champions League title and a fourth-place finish in the 2009 FIFA Club World Cup, where they’d lose to eventual champion FC Barcelona.
Perhaps equally known for his reflexes as a goalkeeper and his ability to strike a ball, Vilar has been known to take free kicks deep in the attacking third and scored multiple goals in his career off free kicks.
- Vilar, who joined Morelia in 2010, wears the No. 3 in honor of his father, who wore the same number during his professional playing career as a defender.
Brought up through the Monarcas youth system, forward Ever Guzmán has been present on the Mexican soccer scene since his youth, making his professional debut in 2004 at just 16 years old. He was a key member of Mexico’s U-17 National Team that captured the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2005.
- Guzmán burst on the youth international scene, helping Mexico capture the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2005 and finishing as the tournament’s second-leading scorer with four goals. He scored the third goal in Mexico’s 3-0 win over Brazil in the final (2:14 in this clip).
He scored his first Liga MX goal before even turning 18, scoring in a 1-1 draw against Atlas on Feb. 11, 2006.
On the travel roster for Monarcas five years ago, Guzmán started, played 79 minutes and assisted on the opening goal for the club in a friendly against the second-division Timbers at then-called PGE Park on July 3, 2008. Also on the field that day, Timbers assistant coach Cameron Knowles.
- Now 25, Guzmán is nearing 150 professional appearances in his career with Morelia and while on loan with other Mexican sides. Several career highlights are shown in this fan-inspired video:
Guzmán was raised in Moroleón, Guanajuato, Mexico, less than 34 miles from Morelia.
- He was born in Celaya, which was also the birthplace of Miguel Martinez, one of the most famous mariachi trumpeters in Mexico.
Ranked one of the top 20 strikers in the world by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics in 2009, Héctor Mancilla is one of the most prolific offensive players in Liga MX. Mancilla has twice won the Golden Boot award within Liga MX, and finished second in the league with 12 goals scored during the 2013 Clausura tournament.
Mancilla won both his Golden Boot awards while playing for Toluca, where he’d win two Liga MX Championships. Mancilla won his first title with Toluca during the 2008 Apertura tournament, and won the second during the 2010 Bicentenario tournament.
Mancilla won his third Liga MX title with Tigres de la UANL during the 2011 Apertura tournament. Mancilla scored nine goals during the 2011 Apertura tournament, all of which can be seen here.
Born in Purrangque, Chile, Mancilla has played 10 international matches with the Chilean National Team in his career.
- After scoring 27 goals in the 2009 calendar year, Mancilla received the “Golden Boot of the Americas” in 2010 from Don Balón, a weekly sports magazine published in Spain.
Edgar Andrade is new to Morelia in 2013. He has been part of two international championships for Mexico in his career, winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup with Mexico in 2005 and was a member of Mexico’s squad that won the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
In addition to his earlier play for various levels of the Mexican National Team, Andrade also earned eight caps for Mexico between 2011-12. His most recent cap came in Mexico’s 2-1 loss to El Salvador in a 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier.
- Andrade has spent over seven years in Liga MX since making his first-division debut with Cruz Azul in a match against Atlas on Jan. 28, 2006. Andrade played for Cruz Azul from 2006-10, then played for Chiapas from 2010-13 before coming to Morelia.