Eddie Johnson Preseason vs. Montreal
Greg Jessen/Portland Timbers

Timbers earn first preseason win, defeat Montreal

CASA GRANDE, Ariz.— The Portland Timbers today earned their first preseason victory as an MLS side, defeating the Montreal Impact 1-0 Wednesday at Grande Sports World.

A seventh-minute goal by Eddie Johnson gave the Timbers their first lead of the preseason, and it held up against Portland’s once, and future league-mates. The Impact, who will play in the NASL this season, will join MLS as the league’s 19th team in 2012.

With the win, the Timbers (1-0-3) remain undefeated in preseason play with a victory and three ties over four encounters thus far.

After the game, Timbers head coach John Spencer stressed the importance of the first victory, discounting the preseason element. 

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, we have to go out and win the game,” Spencer said, referring to his consistent message to the team. “And I think it was important for the morale and the confidence to get [their] first win as an MLS team. I think the guys enjoyed it.”

Johnson said the sequence that led up to the decisive, early goal was “exactly what we’ve been working on,” a run of play that eventually set up a lofted ball from the right side by trialist midfielder Roberto Merino. Johnson slipped between the Montreal defenders in the six-yard box at the far post and headed the ball past goalkeeper Evan Bush.

“It was good to get a victory today so we can really push on in preseason,” Johnson said, “[John Spencer] has kept saying he wants us to win – whether it’s preseason or not – so we want to get that mentality going, even this early on.”

Spencer worked in a different-look starting XI against the Impact, featuring many players originally scheduled to face the U.S. U-18 National Team in a scrimmage that was called off Saturday.

Goalkeeper Adin Brown, making his second start of the preseason, was tested at times in the second half in helping the Timbers record their second straight shutout in preseason play.

The Timbers will conduct regular training sessions Thursday and Friday before taking on Sporting Kansas City on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. (MT) to wrap up their 10-day stint in Casa Grande.

Scoring Summary:
POR: Johnson (Merino), 7

POR: GK Brown, D Kirk, D Danso, D Horst, D Taylor (Wallace, 85), M Zizzo, M Alhassan (Marcelin, 77), M Moffat, M Merino (DeMartin, 46), F Perlaza (Umony, 62), F Johnson (Cooper, 73)

MON: GK Bush (Gaudette, 46), D Billy (Da Costa, 72), D Pizzolitto (Aaboubou, 46), D Hatchi, D Cossette (Pelletier, 46), M LeGall (Kreamalmeyer, 46), M Camara (Cardin, 87), M Ribeiro (Gatti, 59), M Di Lorenzo (Mayard, 75), F Ech Chergui, F Gerba (Porter, 63)

Misconduct Summary:
MON: Aaboubou (caution) 67, Hatchi (caution) 76

- The Timbers will return to Portland on Saturday evening following their final Casa Grande scrimmage with Sporting Kansas City.

- Portland has allowed two goals in its four preseason matches and has not allowed a goal since the 47-minute mark of a 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy in their second match of the preseason on Feb. 8.

- MLS today announced the format for the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs, with 10 teams qualifying this year. The top three finishers in each conference (regular-season points) will receive automatic berths, while the next-best four clubs based on regular-season points, irrespective of conference, will receive the remaining berths.