A 39th minute Jose Valencia bicycle kick that went off a Morelia player’s hand, setting up a penalty kick by Portland Timbers’ center back Futty Danso that set up the only goal they’d need.
“PKs are a one-versus-one, so there’s nothing to be nervous about,” Danso said. “I know that there’s a 90 percent chance I’m going to make it.”
Valencia had just returned to the states after visiting his ailing mother in his home country of Colombia. Valencia has one goal in seven game appearances this season, and it was the first time he’d seen the pitch in the last three games.
Several Timbers players who don’t typically see as extensive playing time were active in the game. The lineup change proved to be effective as the team continues its un-beaten streak, despite the fact that it was an exhibition match.
“We were without nine guys who had been key guys, starters, and we still played our style,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter after the match. “I thought we still had the better of the game. Even before the red, we were controlling the game and to me that was very pleasing. We were possessing the ball. We pressed well, they had very few chances.”
Many of the Timber Academy’s U-23 players were involved during the game, a chance for many fans and analysts to get glimpses of the young stars in live action.
“The way we looked at it is, it is a great opportunity to get experience for some of our guys that haven’t played,” Porter said. “I believe we had eight guys that had played major minutes, so it wasn’t like we played a completely inexperienced team. We had a lot of guys that were in that game that have played significant minutes and played a major role. I think that showed.
“The number one priority was to get through the game healthy, to get guys experience, to keep some guys ticking over and keep them sharp, and we have paying fans that came to this match to see us put on a show. I thought that if you are looking at all of those things, it was mission accomplished.”
So will we continue to see more line-up movement?
“It’s good we played those guys who haven’t played much,” Porter said. “We need to get them ready and developed in case we need them.”