PORTLAND — The Portland Timbers did the expected on Tuesday, but given the history of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup tournament, their 3-0 win over a team of college players provided satisfaction for players and for 10,619 fans at Providence Park.
Gaston Fernandez scored twice in the first half and rookie Taylor Peay scored his first Timbers goal in the second as Portland dominated Orlando City’s under-23 club. The win advances the Timbers to the round of 16 in the Open Cup, which is the national soccer championship in its 101st year.
The Timbers will travel next week for an Open Cup match against the winner of Wednesday’s match between Sporting Kansas City and Minnesota United of the second-division North American Soccer League. If Kansas City is their destination, it will set up a quick two-game set between the teams as Sporting visits Portland on June 27 for their only MLS clash of the season.
Four MLS clubs have lost so far in this round of the national tournament, but Fernandez put the Timbers on solid ground with his two goals.
The Argentine opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a laser, hitting the upper right corner of the goal with a shot from 28 yards away. His second goal came in the 36th minute when he calmly chipped a penalty kick past diving Orlando City goalkeeper Tomas Gomez. The penalty kick was awarded when Gomez sent Maximiliano Urruti cartwheeling as both chased a ball in the attacking right side of the penalty area.
Orlando City did create several half-chances in the first half from counter attacks and from pouncing on Timbers giveawys.
“It was not a convincing 2-0 at halftime,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “We tightened the screws a bit and told them to raise their level, and I thought the second half was dominant.”
Rodney Wallace, in his 2014 debut for the Timbers after offseason knee surgery, played 80 minutes on the left wing.
“It looks like he’s completely back 100 percent in every regard: Physically, tactically, technically and mentally,” Porter said of Wallace’s performance.
Peay, who replaced Alvas Powell at right back in the 56th minute, called his first Timbers goal a thrill. It was set up by a smart pass through the defense by Urruti.
“(Porter) told me to defend and go forward as much you can,” Peay said. “That’s what I tried to do. It was fun.”
Porter noted that depth is going to be needed next week with an Open Cup game midweek and a league match on Friday.
“We can’t be playing the same guys Tuesday and Friday, traveling across country,” Porter said. “We do that, we’re going to potentially risk league play on Friday and we can’t at this stage. At the same time, I’m not willing to sacrifice the potential to win a trophy here with the Open Cup.”