Photo courtesy Sam Ortega / Portland Timbers 2
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers 2 became the first side to defeat Sacramento Republic FC in 2018 on Wednesday night after a 2-0 victory at Providence Park moved T2 into fourth place in the USL’s Western Conference. Portland took the lead in the 16th minute as a cross from the left by Lamar Batista fell kindly for Dairon Asprilla after jamming between the Colombian and a defender as they went for a header, allowing Asprilla to tap home from close range. Both teams had chances before halftime as Sacramento’s Villyan Bijev created space for a low shot that was saved by T2 goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh and Asprilla powered a shot that produced a diving save by Republic FC’s Josh Cohen, but Portland took a two-goal lead seven minutes before the break as a corner kick by Eryk Williamson picked out Modou Jadama for a headed finish. Sacramento applied pressure in the second half, and McIntosh made a good low save to deny Cameron Iwasa before T2 defender Josh Phillips kept out a header by Republic FC’s Mitch Taintor from the ensuing corner. Portland hit the post through Victor Arboleda in second-half stoppage time as it looked to ice its victory, but it proved academic as the hosts saw out the victory well.
16’ – POR – Dairon Asprilla
38’ – POR – Modou Jamada (Eryk Williamson)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Portland claimed its fourth win of the season as it ended Sacramento’s undefeated start to the season and in the process surpassed its victory total from 2017, a sign of the turnaround that’s underway in the Rose City this season. That can partly be attributed to some solid upgrades the side made this offseason, with players like Josh Phillips, Modou Jamada and Jimmy Mulligan on the back line and Eryk Williamson in midfield making a solid impact to amplify the strong performances the club has received by returning players like Lamar Batista and Kendall McIntosh. T2 hasn’t reached the USL Cup Playoffs in its first three seasons but is looking like it will be solidly in the mix this year.
2. Sacramento had lived on the edge at times in its seven-game undefeated streak to start the season, including its most recent outing against Tulsa Roughnecks FC last Saturday, but on Wednesday night it was unable to do enough with its chances as T2 goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh posted another stellar performance. The visitors got a bright performance by Villyan Bijev in his first game against his former club, who finished with six shots and one key pass, but the side will now have to refocus as it heads to complete its Cascadia road trip against Seattle Sounders FC 2 on Sunday afternoon.
3. T2’s attacking display was again a positive one as the side moved to 14 goals this season, only nine short of its total in the 2017 regular season, but maybe the biggest key to the game was the solid displays by central midfielders Renzo Zambrano and Eryk Williamson, with former U.S. U20 international Williamson in particular putting in a fine performance. Williamson won 10 of 12 duels overall, and consistently produced telling deliveries from set pieces as he finished the night with five key passes in a performance that reflected his pedigree.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Eryk Williamson, Portland Timbers 2 – Williamson produced a stellar two-way display with five key passes, one assist and three tackles to help T2 hand Sacramento its first loss of the regular season.
Portland Timbers 2 at Saint Louis FC – May 5, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Stadium – Saint Louis
Sacramento Republic FC at Seattle Sounders FC 2 – May 6, 4:30 p.m. ET, Cheney Stadium