BY ADAM SERRANO
CARSON, CALIF – There will be a number of firsts this year for the Portland Timbers in their inaugural season as an MLS team and on Tuesday, the club added another. The Timbers played their first match against MLS competition and continued their unbeaten pre-season with a 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy.
After a scoreless first half with both first teams in action, Galaxy rookie Paolo Cardozo opened the scoring in the 47th Minute but the Timbers countered immediately with a goal from Ugandan trialist Bryan Umony in the 51st minute.
The Timbers struggled in the first half with the Galaxy controlling the possession and dominating the opportunities. It was a stark contrast to their match last Friday against the Ventura County Fusion, but head coach John Spencer admitted that it was all part of the club's learning process.
"The fitness levels were not where we need to be and we knew that as a staff pressuring them, we were able to drop back and we still got a number of chances," said Spencer. There's a lot of hard work to be done before we start the season against Colorado.
"If you said to me before the match, that we'd match the Galaxy on most areas, I would have took that. I'm happy for the guys because its another step forward for us."
The match was a physical one with players eager to prove their worth as rosters are trimmed before the start of the season. Argentine midfielder Miguel Lopez was sent off midway through the first half after a clumsy challenge on Steve Purdy.The second half was dominated by the Timbers, who appeared more active moving forward. The Galaxy took the lead after Bryan Jordan played in a ball that Cardozo was easily able to finish. Portland answered immediately off a corner kick when a deflection fell to Umony, who beat Josh Saunders.
Umony, who spend last year playing in South Africa, performed well playing alongside fellow trialist Colombian Jorge Perlaza. The pair provided a number of questions for a veteran Galaxy back-line. A few weeks in the pre-season, Bruce Arena felt that there was still much work to be done to get the Galaxy ready for First Kick, which is a little more than a month away.
"Today was a good exercise, but our passing and ability to create width in the attack in the first half was not good and those are things to learn from," said Arena. "We want to keep moving players around and solve the best way for us to play as a group and continue to move forward, but for the first two and a half weeks of preseason, I'm pleased."
The scrimmage was the first against MLS competition for the Galaxy, who will play the San Jose Earthquakes before leaving for Scottsdale, Arizona. The Galaxy will take on the Colorado Rapids and the Vancouver Whitecaps while in Arizona.
After the match, Spencer admitted that new addition Kenny Cooper should join the club shortly and could be in Portland in the next 48 hours after spending the early part of the preseason in Germany. The Timbers will now head back to Portland after heading to Arizona themselves on February 18th. With only a month away from the Timbers real debut in MLS, Spencer is eager for his club to recover and heel as they prepare for their real debut.
"We have a lot of guys coming back from injury right now so we're trying to be extra careful that we don't pick up anymore nicks or strains," said Spencer. "We want to be able to have our group together for a good ten days of training…hopefully those guys will start to turn the corner so we can put in some proper work."