Timbers, S.J. Earthquakes battle to draw
Portland shows plenty of positives in Jeld-Wen friendly
Originally published February 27, 2012 at 10:42 p.m., updated February 27, 2012 at 11:05 p.m.
Preseason: Chivas USA at Portland, 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Jeld-Wen Field.
Also Thursday: San Jose vs. AIK, 5 p.m.
PORTLAND — Nothing that happens this week at Jeld-Wen Field will get the Portland Timbers any measurable progress towards the Major League Soccer playoffs.
But there were a few positive signs as the Timbers continued preparing for their second MLS season in front of 16,118 fans on Monday by playing the San Jose Earthquakes to a 1-1 draw.
Perhaps the most significant development was Kalif Alhassan’s perfectly-placed shot in the 15th minute. His shot from the left of the goal curled just out of the reach of San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch and under the crossbar near the right post, quickly giving the fans something to shout about.
For a player who did not register a goal in his rookie MLS season, the goal was the kind that might help boost the confidence of a player who showed flashes of crafty play last season.
“A tremendous piece of skill,” Timbers coach John Spencer said. “I’ve seen him try that 1.25 million times and it’s never ended up in the back of the net. I yell at him when he doesn’t do things right, but tonight the kid did have one of his best performances in a Timbers uniform.”
Portland’s young back line played a strong first half before a giveaway by rookie Andrew Jean-Baptiste led to an own goal off of Hanyer Mosquera for San Jose’s goal in the 59th minute.
Jean-Baptiste and Colombian acquisition Mosquera played the entire match in central defense and — with strong play from veteran keeper Troy Perkins — held their own for much of the match against proven finishers Chris Wondolowski and Steven Lenhart.
Rookie Ryan Kawoluk from the University of Portland, one of two unsigned players still on the preseason roster, played right back for the first 77 minutes before giving way to Lovel Palmer. Right back is perhaps the position with the least depth on the Timbers roster.
Kawoluk said he enjoyed his audition in front of more than 16,000 fans.
“They inspire you. When you hear them chanting, it makes you happy,” Kawoluk said. “It makes you want to work as hard as you can for those guys because they are paying to come see you. You want to send them home happy. I love that stage.”
Spencer said he was pleased with a number of aspects of the match, but disappointed to settle for a draw. The coach said the most impressive part of the night was the atmosphere at Jeld-Wen Field for a preseason match.
“It’s incredible,” Spencer said. “I still think I’ve got the best job in the country.”
Veteran Mike Chabala played the entire match at left back.
Jorge Perlaza played as a lone striker in the first half. Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara played central midfield in front of James Marcelin with Eric Alexander and Alhassan on the wings. Darlington Nagbe replaced Alexander in the 60th minute and joined Perlaza up top. Bright Dike replaced Perlaza in the 73rd minute.
• The own goal was the first allowed in 359 minutes dating to the preseason opener against Los Angeles.
• As expected, new Designated Player Kris Boyd, nursing a sore foot, did not suit up. Spencer said Boyd is working to get game fit and is unlikely to play on Thursday or on Sunday.
• Single-game tickets for the regular season go on sale for the first time from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday in person at Jeld-Wen Field. Online sale of single-game tickets through Ticketmaster begins at 10 a.m. on Wednesday.