PORTLAND, Ore. – Opening night of Timbers 2’s home season turned into a successful homecoming for one of the team’s familiar names, Foster Langsdorf. The Portland Timbers’ Homegrown Player, on loan to the club’s USL team, scored what became the game-winning goal in Wednesday’s match against Rio Grande Valley FC, allowing T2 to secure a 3-2 victory at Merlo Field.


The win was the second straight for Portland, who went into halftime with a one-goal deficit after RGV’s Omar Ontiveros opened the scoring by converting a corner kick against the run of play. The second-half response from head coach Cameron Knowles’ team highlighted the lineup’s heavy first-team presence, with Jeremy Ebobisse, Jack Barmby and Langsdorf pushing Portland to a 3-1 lead. A late penalty conceded by Terrell Lowe, who had assisted on Langsdorf’s goal, allowed Todd Wharton to pull RGV within one, a gap they were unable to close over the match’s final 10 minutes.


“I’m so happy we won, first of all,” Langsdorf said, having scored in his professional home debut. “The second thing, about the home debut, is I wasn’t too nervous, just because it’s home. It’s nothing out of the ordinary.


“I’ve played here at Merlo, before, and this is a familiar environment, especially when you have the Timbers fans yelling at the other players, not at you. That feels really great, because sometimes they say some really funny things, and you kind of break your character for a second. But you get back into it. It was a lot of fun. I love playing at home in Portland.”


The result was T2’s third win of the season, matching the team’s total from last year’s 34-game campaign. Improving their record to 3-2-1, Portland moved into a three-way tie for fifth in USL’s Western Conference, only three points behind Orange County SC for the West’s top spot.


While that marks a decidedly different trend than last year’s results, Knowles feels the team could have had more points through its first six results.


“If you go and ask everyone in that locker room, they’ll expected to have started better,” he said. “We’ve dropped points. The standard we’re trying to set for ourselves is high. We have high expectations for this team. We have high expectations for the individuals in the locker room. They have high expectations for themselves, and for each other.”


Wednesday’s final score mirrored that from the Timbers’ weekend victory over Minnesota United FC, apropos of a squad that featured nine players from the club’s MLS roster. Some of those names – like Victor Arboleda, Ebobisse, Modou Jadama, Kendall McIntosh, and Eryk Williamson – have been regulars for T2 throughout their season, but the occasion of a Wednesday night game at home, four days before the club’s next MLS contest, provided opportunities for other Timbers talents. Dairon Asprilla and Julio Cascante were both in Knowles’ starting XI, with Barmby coming on at intermission.


“The support that we’ve had from the first team has been unbelievable,” Knowles explained. “[Timbers head coach] Gio [Savarese] has been incredible with that; not just with the players, but with their time and advice – things like that. The support for the first team has been really important to our success.”


T2’s home opener gave the club’s MLS players a chance to make their case to the first-team coaches, who were in attendance at Merlo. The Timbers host New York City FC on Sunday, with many of the players featured against Rio Grande Valley in contention to make that game day squad.


Langsdorf, however, is keeping a more-narrow focus, for now. Having just returned home from Stanford, the Timbers’ Homegrown is intent on making an impact with T2.


“I don’t really think about that end goal,” he said, when asked about chances with the first-team squad. “My main goal was just to score and for us to win. I wasn’t thinking that if I play really well I would end up getting to play on Sunday. I’m just thinking about Saturday [T2’s next game], right now.


“That’s probably where I’m going to be at, and I’m really happy to be there, too. I really like this team, here. A lot of the ex-Stanford players will come back and say, once your leave, you’re not going to be in this same team environment. But I feel like we really have that, here, as far as I’ve been here, as far as I know.”


Players like Asprilla, Barmby and Cascante weren’t the only Timbers to make their T2 season debuts on Wednesday. Honduran youth international Darixon Vuelto also took his first USL bow, coming on late for Langsdorf.


“We saw flashes of some really good moments,” from Vuelto, Knowles said, pointing out his new attacker’s pace, power, and work rate. “But we need to continue to get him up to speed, get him fit, get him match-fit, but it was a really good start from him, so far.”


T2’s talent allowed the team to control most of Wednesday’s game, yielding a final score that was closer than the play on the field. In time, Knowles will hope the margins aren’t so close, even if T2’s already showing vast improvement on their 2017 form.


“We need to take care of games at home,” he says. “We managed on a difficult road swing to get some points, which was important, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to keep working. We’ve got to keep improving the way that we play so that, when teams come here, they’re playing against a very difficult to team, and it’s going to be very difficult to score against us and take points off us.”


T2’s next chance to improve their home form comes Saturday at Merlo Field when the team welcomes the winless Reno 1868 FC (7pm PT, TICKETS).