PORTLAND — It lacked intensity for a half, and rhythm for longer. But for Portland Timbers coach Caleb Porter, Wednesday’s 1-0 preseason loss to FC Dallas at Jeld-Wen Field served its purpose.
It gave some young players a taste of the big stage, and gave the coaches a look at options outside their best 11 as the regular season opener nears.
“We wanted to see what these guys had, what their made of,” Porter said of a team that included 11 different starters from Sunday’s 3-3 tie with San Jose.
The group included two players on trial, forward Frederic Piquionne and defender Calum Angus. But it also included known Timbers Sal Zizzo and Rodney Wallace. Zizzo played much of the game at right back, and Porter gave the quick winger solid marks for his play at at unfamiliar position.
“I thought he did well. He’s athletic. He can go box to box, and in our system we get our outside backs forward. He didn’t get beat much. He could be a guy that we do use in that position.”
The coach sounded most pleased with the effort of forward Jose Valencia, whose header scooted just wide on Portland’s only first-half threat.
“I thought he was a bright spot in both halves, actually,” Porter said. “He was one of the few guys in that first half that really looked like he was up for it.”
Without naming players, the coach said he learned things on Wednesday that will determine where individuals fit.
“It helps us moving forward (and) understanding the type of team we have and what individuals can help us,” Porter said.
That won’t be the case on Saturday. Porter said the lineup for the final preseason game, against Sweden’s AIK, will be close to the lineup that will start on March 3 against New York in the regular-season opener.
While Portland played second-teamers and trialists on Wednesday, Dallas came out with its top lineup.
So it was hardly a surprise when the visitors had the better of play for the first 45 minutes.
“Disappointed in the first half a little bit,” Porter said. “I thought we were on the back foot, and were a little more tentative than I would have liked.”
The only goal in a game came in the 16th minute from one of Dallas’ five first-half corner kicks. Blas Perez deposited a half volley into the right side of the goal, beating everyone to a bouncing ball.
It was the second time in as many games the Timbers have been scored against from a set piece.
“We need to do a better job in those moments,” Porter said. “We can’t expect to win games at this level when we lose marks.”
A win on Wednesday, though, would have been a bonus. The goal was to put less established players to the test.
“We need to prepare to win games now, but we also need to move our group forward with the guys who might come off the bench, with the guys who might be future Timbers,” Porter said.