Timbers U-23s come up short

Slow start dooms development squad in 3-2 defeat

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



Portland Timbers U-23 player Bryan Gallego controls the ball against the Washington Crossfire's Garret Jackson during the Crossfire's 3-2 win at Doc Harris Stadium.

Portland Timbers U-23 player Mitch Lurie (5) fights for the ball with Washington Crossfire's Chaz Jenkins at Doc Harris Stadium on Friday. The Crossfire won 3-2.

CAMAS — Zack Foxhoven produced a wow moment on Friday for a couple thousand soccer fans at Doc Harris Stadium.

But his bicycle-kick goal in the 90th minute wasn’t enough to rescue the Portland Timbers Under-23 team from a sluggish start in a 3-2 Premier Development League loss to Washington Crossfire.

Christian Roldan scored two goals as the Redmond-based Crossfire beat the Timbers for the second time this season. Ian Adams also scored for the visitors against a Timbers team that had not allowed a goal in a home game all season.

The Timbers (6-2-2) tried to overcome their worst defensive game of the season with some late urgency on the attack. They scored twice in the final 19 minutes and saw two other balls dance in the goal mouth before being cleared away.

But an energetic finish couldn’t make up for a sluggish first half.

“We like to play high energy, high tempo, move the ball fast. We didn’t do that” in the first half, Timbers U-23 assistant coach Rod Underwood said.

Underwood coached the team on Friday while head coach Jim Rilatt watched from the press box, serving a one-game suspension for a red card a week earlier.

Jose Ribas, an Ecudorian forward from Creighton University, scored his first goal of the season with a curving left-footed shot that pulled Portland within 2-1 in the 74th minute.

But Adams scored in the 88th minute for Crossfire (3-5-1), a goal that turned Foxhoven’s over-the-head shot — his first bicycle kick goal in a game, he said — into a footnote.

“I kind of ran past the ball. I had to check my run back and (the ball) just laid out perfectly for me,” said Foxhoven, a forward who plays for the University of Louisville and is the brother of Portland Thorns FC’s Danielle Foxhoven.

Friday’s game was the first of three this weekend for the Timbers under-23s, who play the Martinique national team at 7 p.m. Saturday at Buckman Field in Portland, then host division-leading Victoria at noon Sunday in Hillsboro. Might that daunting schedule, plus the heat, have explained Friday’s sluggish start?

“If these guys want to play at the (professional) level, there are no excuses,” Underwood said.

Though the result wasn’t perfect for the Timbers, the chance to play in front of an estimated 2,000 fans was a treat.

“Tonight was awesome,” Timbers midfielder Zach Barnes said.

Barnes, entering his senior season at Creighton, has played every minute of every match for the under-23s this summer. He didn’t feel his Friday performance lived up to the stage. Among the crowd were members of the Timbers Army Northern Alliance, Clark County’s chapter of the Portland Timbers supporters’ group. Also in the stands were hundreds of youth soccer players in Camas for the annual Clash of the Border tournament.

“We’re just an under-23 summer team and the stands are packed and the Timbers Army’s here with the drums and chants,” Barnes said appreciatively. “I’m fortunate, at Creighton we get really good crowds. But for some of the other guys on the team who maybe don’t get to play in front of a big fan base this is a really good experience.”

Ultimately, the lasting lesson was delivered by a motivated Crossfire squad.

“If we want to make it to the next level, we have to play every day,” Ribas said. “We have to do our best whenever we have the chance, because like the coach says it could be our last chance. You never know.”