USL MATCH RECAP | Portland Timbers 2: 3, Real Monarchs SLC: 1

PORTLAND, Ore. – Playing their first match of the 2016 USL regular season at Providence Park, T2 defeated Real Monarchs SLC 3-1 on Saturday for their second home win of the 2016 campaign. Neco Brett tallied a brace in a 10-minute span late in the second half and Ben Polk scored his first professional goal for T2, who have earned at least a point in four of their last five games.  

With the win, T2 has earned three wins and a draw over their last five games (3-1-1) and improved to 2-0-2 against Real Monarchs SLC, dating back to the 2015 USL campaign. With finishes from Polk and Brett, seven different players have scored for T2, with Nick Besler, Dylan Damraoui, Kharlton Belmar, Andre Lewis and Victor Arboleda each recording goals through eight games. 

Outshooting Real Monarchs SLC (2-3-2, 8pts) 3-2 in the first half, T2 (3-4-1, 10pts) opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Polk, the Timbers 20th overall selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, reacted quickly to slot his one-time finish into the back of the net. After a determined effort from forward Kharlton Belmar near the far post, the second-year forward evaded two defenders before sending a lateral ball to Polk for the goal. 

Prior to Polk’s goal, T2 threatened in the ninth minute through defender Marco Farfan when he nearly caught the goalkeeper off his line from a corner kick service. From the far left corner flag, Farfan, a member of USL Team of the Week for Week 6, bent an in-swinging ball destined for the top corner of goal, but Monarchs SLC goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez redirected the ball the near sideline and out of danger.   

In the second half, T2 continued to threaten through midfielder Nick Besler when his long-range attempt at the top of the box was deflected at the post for a corner kick in the 53rd minute. In the 81st minute, T2 found the go-ahead goal from Brett after calmly placing his shot into the back of the net. After being released from midfield by second-half substitute Villyan Bijev, Brett, the Timbers 40th overall selection in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, charged past an oncoming Monarchs SLC defender before calmly bending his shot into the back of the net. 

In stoppage time, Brett added his second goal of the match when he placed his break-away finish to the far, side netting. The goal stemmed from a strong defensive play from Belmar after the forward’s sliding tackle won T2 possession in the midfield. With his head up, Belmar led a ball ahead of a streaking Bijev, who relayed a pass to a wide-open Brett in the middle of the park. With just the goalkeeper to beat, Brett slid his shot into the back of the net to secure Portland the win. The assist on the third goal would be Bijev's second of the match, both coming sequences with Brett. 

Next week, T2 travel to Colorado to face Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on Friday, May 13, at Switchbacks Stadium; kickoff is set for 6 p.m. (Pacific). 

Friday’s match will also be available via a live, high-definition web stream at www.timbers2.com.

Postgame Quote Sheet

T2 head coach Andrew Gregor
On the result…
“It was a little bit of an interesting game. The pace wasn’t as high as we’re used to. I think weather conditions maybe played into a little bit of that. But, you know, first half I think we did a good job. At times, I think we needed to be a little bit more patient in some areas. Defensively, I thought we were pretty solid. In the second half, they kind of changed their formation a bit and we maybe ran out of steam a little bit, but I thought the substitutes that came in did a real nice job. Neco (Brett) did a good job of making the most out of those two moments he had in front of goal, which was very helpful.”

On Ben Polk scoring his first career goal…
“I think he’s gotten to a point now where he’s kind of hit a wall, both physically and mentally, and he’s now come out on the other side of it and I think it’s just a reward that he’s scored that goal. He’s capable. He’s really good at finishing from inside the box. And sometimes, playing out wide in the wing position, he doesn’t always get himself in those positions. We’ve been working with him more and more to get him in dangerous areas, and I thought he did a good job, getting in there, and like we know he’s a good finisher. The ball came to him, and he did a great job finishing it.”

On Neco Brett scoring two goals and leading the team in shots this season…
“We talk about moments all the time, and all week we talked about, ‘Can we handle the moments?’ And, I thought Neco (Brett) did a good job in those two moments, good opportunities that changed the game for us. He took them well and finished them off, and that’s positive for the team and positive for Neco, moving forward.”

On the team gaining momentum and growing in recent weeks…
“Yeah, I think so. I think we still have to remember that it’s a young group, so we’re going to see ups and downs on many levels. But, yes I think it was good that they found a way to get the result today, and the way we played and defended was pretty good. So we’re definitely seeing some growth, and that is what we want. It is part of the development, with them finding ways to manage moments, manage games, manage conditions that they’ll see as professional soccer players, so I’m pleased with how things went today.”

T2 forward Ben Polk
On scoring his first professional goal…
“It all started with hard work from [Kharlton] Belmar, to get through onto the byline and lay off well. I just tried to get it on target. But, it was nice to play at the stadium. It added a bit of atmosphere and a bit of edge to the game, and obviously it’s nice to get a win.”

On earning a start…
“We have a group of honest, hardworking guys and all of us train hard and prepare well. So, whenever the chance comes, I’m just going to do my best to take it.”

T2 forward Neco Brett
On scoring two goals…
“Scoring two goals is always a good thing. It helps build your confidence and also shows where your work is going. For the first goal, I realized that every time I pulled wide, the wing back was coming with me and opening up the space, so for both goals I just pulled wide and ran inside to pick up the ball. I made sure my first touch was good, picked my spot and put it into the back of the net.”

On connecting with Villyan Bijev for both goals…
“We didn’t really have to talk because football is one language. So, the moment I’m going into the space, he’s just going to play it. You know, he’s very technical, and he’s a good guy and a team player, so he’s always going to play those balls for me to finish it.”

T2 (3-4-1, 10pts) vs. Real Monarchs SLC (2-3-2, 8pts) 
May 7, 2016 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)

Goals by Half                                       1          2          F
T2                                                         1          2          3
Real Monarchs SLC                            0          1          1

Scoring Summary
POR: Polk (Belmar), 17
POR: Brett (Bijev), 80
SLC: Brody, 86
POR: Brett (Bijev), 90

Misconduct Summary
POR: Peay (Caution), 48
POR: Bijev (Caution), 67
SLC: Celestino (Caution), 68

Lineups & Stats
POR: GK McIntosh, D Lowe, D Peay ©, D Gallagher, D Farfan, M Besler, M Lewis (Casiple, 89), M Duarte (Bijev, 62), F Brett, F Belmar, F Polk (Richards, 80)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Luthy, D Morley, M Idowu, F Meva

TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Brett, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Brett, 2); FOULS: 14 (5, Bijev); CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 6  

SLC: GK Fernandez, D Arnone (Tavares, 80), D Orozco, D Schuler (Kavita, 46), D Lachowecki (McGovern, 62), M Sunly, M Celestino, M Amankona, F Brody, F Velazco, F Orellana (Rolfe, 68)

Substitutes Not Used: GK Sparrow, M Acosta, M Torres

TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Velazco, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Velazco, 4); FOULS: 13 (4, Celestino); CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 2 

Referee: Victor Rivas
Assistant Referees: JJ Blodgett, Mike Hohnholz
4th Official: Ben Goodman
Attendance: 2,157
Weather: Clear, 82 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

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