PORTLAND — Ryan Johnson couldn’t recall the previous time he scored three goals in a soccer game.
But he isn’t likely to forget the first time he scored three goals for the Portland Timbers.
In the first Jeld-Wen Field dress rehearsal of 2013, the former Oregon State standout scored all three goals for Portland in a 3-3 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.
It is the kind of debut that gives Johnson, first-year head coach Caleb Porter, and Sunday’s announced audience of 14,222 reason to be excited for the season that begins for real in two weeks.
“It’s definitely important,” Johnson said of the confidence his three-goal night will generate. “Because when was the last time I scored three goals? You’ve got to think about those things. Now, when I think about that in a match, I’ll know I just scored three.
“When we need that goal to tie, or we need that goal to win, it just gives me confidence to know that I can score those goals.”
Johnson’s first goal on Sunday was flick header to the open far post that redirected in a Kalif Alhassan cross that tied the score 1-1 in the game’s fifth minute. His one-on-one finish of a play that started with a Darlington Nagbe midfield dash that led to Diego Valeri’s lead pass made it 2-1 Portland in the 27th minute.
The third goal gave Portland a 3-2 lead in the 52nd minute as Johnson and Valeri created a two-on-one counter attack, and the striker calmly chipped the ball over goalkeeper Jon Busch.
“I thought we scored three fantastic goals,” Porter said. “I thought our attack was very dangerous.
“For our attack to be gelling and clicking the way that it is four weeks into the (pre)season is very pleasing,” the coach continued. “Typically, that’s the part of your team that takes a little bit of time.”
Johnson, a veteran of six MLS seasons including three-plus with San Jose, said he sensed the Timbers offense coming together from the start of training camp.
“I’m not surprised by how quickly it came together because I see that we have very good offensive players that are very clean technically,” Johnson said. “The passes, all those little things are going to be on point.”
San Jose’s goals were less artistic, coming after Portland breakdowns that Porter called correctable: a defensive zone turnover, poor coverage defending a free kick, and a poor clearing attempt.
But the coach sounded pleased with his team’s demeanor, particularly with the way the Timbers responded after the San Jose goals.
“We’re not satisfied getting the tie, nor will we ever be because this club’s going to play to win every time we take the field,” Porter said.
“We want to be an aggressive team, an attack-oriented team, a proactive team,” the coach added. “We want teams to have to deal with us and San Jose had to deal with us tonight.”
• Portland is next on the field on Wednesday for a 7:30 p.m. preseason match against FC Dallas.
• FC Dallas and Sweden’s AIK played to a scoreless draw on Sunday afternoon at Jeld-Wen Field.
• Regular-season single game tickets to Timbers home games go on sale at 10 a.m. today at Jeld-Wen Field and online through PortlandTimbers.com.