Matchday Preview: Portland Timbers host Monarcas Morelia in inaugural Copa Verde on July 3, 2013

Date: Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Kickoff: 8 p.m. (Pacific)
Location: JELD-WEN Field (Portland, Ore.)
Forecast: 90 degrees, partly cloudy
Referee: Ramon Hernandez
Assistant Referees: Baboucarr Jallow, Carlos Tercero
Fourth Official: Josh Wilkens

Bilingual Webstream:

Spanish TV: ESPN Deportes
English Radio: 750 The Game (KXTG 750AM)
Talent: Keith Bleyer (play-by-play), Brett Jacobs (analyst)
Spanish Radio: La Pantera (KWBY 940AM)
Talent: Juan de Dios Andrade (play-by-play), Edgar Palacios (analyst)
The Timbers enter Wednesday’s international friendly match against Monarcas Morelia unbeaten in 17 straight games across all competitions. After a much needed break last weekend, Portland is back in action for the first time since a 3-2 win over FC Dallas in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on June 26 at FC Dallas Stadium. The Timbers return to MLS regular-season play on Sunday against the Columbus Crew; kickoff is 2 p.m. (Pacific). Monarcas Morelia visit the Rose City in preparation for the 2013 Liga MX Apertura tournament which begins on July 19. Monarcas began their United States preseason tour on June 29 with a 2-1 loss against Brazilian club Cruzeiro at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Following Wednesday’s match, Monarcas head to the Bay Area to take on Mexican club Cruz Azul (Liga MX runner-up in the 2013 Clausura) at Spartan Stadium in San Jose on July 6. Monarcas finishes the preseason campaign on July 13 against Salvadoran side Luis Ángel Firpo at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

Known as “Monarcas,” Morelia was founded in 1924, and recently has been a consistent contender in Mexico’s first division, called Liga MX, earning a promotion following the 1981 season. Monarcas captured their first top-flight title in 2000, winning the Invierno tournament championship, and are a three-time league finalist, most recently during the 2011 Clausura tournament. The club has earned a top-five finish in four of the last seven tournaments dating back to the 2009-10 season. Monarcas have been one of the top clubs in the region, competing in the 2010 Copa Libertadores as one of the few representatives of Mexico in the prestigious South American club tournament. The club is a two-time runner-up in the CONCACAF Champions Cup (now called Champions League), reaching the finals of the 2002 and 2003 tournaments, and is a two-time participant of the SuperLiga – a competition contested between top clubs from MLS and Mexico from 2007-10 – winning the tournament in its final season in 2010. Monarcas finished the 2012 Apertura campaign in fifth place (6-2-9, 27pts) and reached the quarterfinals against Club América. Under new head coach Carlos Bustos, who took over in February, the club finished the 2013 Clausura tournament in fourth place in the Liga MX table with a record of 8-3-6 (30pts). Morelia lost a two-legged quarterfinal series to Cruz Azul in the playoffs. The club is led by veterans in forward Héctor Mancilla, who finished the season second in the league in goal-scoring with 12 goals and is a two-time Liga MX Golden Boot winner (Apertura 2008, Clausura 2009), and goalkeeper Frederico Vilar, the league’s goalkeeper of the year in 2007. Monarcas also features Ecuadorian international midfielder Jefferson Montero, who appeared in each of Ecuador’s last two 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Head coach Carlos Bustos’ squad enters the Rose City on the heels of a 2-1 preseason loss against Brazilian club Cruzeiro on June 29 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Forward Héctor Mancilla tallied the lone goal for Monarcas on a penalty kick in the 77th minute. Mancilla was the club’s leading goal scorer in the most recent 2013 Clausura tournament with 12 goals, good for second in Liga MX. After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, Cruzeiro scored twice in the first 15 minutes of the second half to take a 2-0 lead on Monarcas in the club’s first of four preseason friendly matches in the United States. In the 2013 Clausura, Monarcas finished in fourth place in the standings, qualifying for the Liguilla (playoffs) where the side matched up against Cruz Azul in a two-legged quarterfinals series. After falling 4-2 on the road in the first leg on May 9, Monarcas earned a 1-0 win in the second leg, but lost the aggregate series 4-3 as Cruz Azul eventually progressed to the championship.

The following is a list of championship and runner-up finishes in domestic and international competitions for Monarcas Morelia. 

Mexican Primera División (1): Invierno 2000
Primera División Runner-up (3): Apertura 2002, Clausura 2003, Apertura 2011
Segunda División (1): 1981
Copa Pachuca (1): 2001
Copa Pachuca Runner-up (1): 1999
Copa MX (1): 1964-65

North American Superliga (1): 2010
CONCACAF Champions’ Cup Runner-up (2): 2002, 2003

Tonight’s match against Monarcas Morelia marks the Timbers’ seventh international exhibition in the club’s two-plus year MLS history, not including preseason matches against Sweden’s AIK in 2012 and 2013. It is the team’s first international friendly of the 2013 season. Last year, the Timbers’ fell 1-0 against Spain’s Valencia CF on May 23, 2012, as Aritz Aduriz scored for the La Liga club before 19,564 fans at JELD-WEN Field. On July 24, 2012, Portland battled English Premier League side Aston Villa to a 2-2 draw in regulation before eventually losing 5-4 on penalty kicks. In 2011, the Timbers hosted four summer exhibitions: Dutch champions AFC Ajax (May 25, 2011), Mexico’s Club America (July 7), England’s West Bromwich Albion (July 20) and Argentina’s Independiente (July 26). The Timbers scored a shutout victory on July 26 against Independiente - a 2-0 triumph in which midfielder Sal Zizzo and forward Brian Umony scored back-to-back goals three minutes apart in the first half and goalkeepers Jake Gleeson and Adin Brown kept the Argentine club off the scoreboard.

In “Copa Verde” (Green Cup), the Timbers have established a new friendly competition in which the club will face a first-division side from Mexico. Copa Verde signifies the sustainability of the Timbers’ local outreach programs and initiatives through “Somos Timbers,” an outreach platform focused on Hispanic youth development, education and health in the greater-Portland area. A portion of the proceeds from Copa Verde benefit the Mexican Consulate of Portland’s IME Becas program and scholarships. IME Becas focus its resources on education, health, and cultural and professional development in the local community.

A spirited crowd created a festival-like atmosphere on July 3, 2008, at PGE Park, as Mexican club Monarcas Morelia defeated the second-division Portland Timbers 2-0 in an international exhibition match. Morelia registered both goals in the first half on strikes from forward Luis Ángel Landín (16th minute) and defender Jaime Duran (27). 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. 

Monarcas 2, Timbers 0 
PGE Park (Portland, Ore.)

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 Landín (Salazar, 69), F Ramirez (Guadarrama, 77), Guzman (Cuesta, 79)