By James Morgan
The Portland Timbers won their first victory of the season Tuesday night in a Lamar Hunt US Open Cup play-in against Chivas USA. The match was marked by traditional brutal Pacific Northwest weather and a plethora of fouls, but ended well for the Timbers as both Jack Jewsbury and Eric Brunner found the back of the net in the final ten minutes for a 2-0 win.
Jewsbury, a 71st minute sub for midfielder Pete Lowry, gave the Timbers a needed boost and drove the ball low into the net from 35 yards out in the 84th minute. Two minutes later, he earned an assist as Brunner knocked it in off of a Jewsbury corner kick in the 86th.
The match, played before a sell-out crowd of 5,061 at Merlo Field at the University of Portland, was not considered the Timbers’ home opener as it was not an official MLS game and instead, was part of the US Open Cup tournament. Nonetheless, it was a needed victory for the Timbers who lost their first two regular season matches. “It was important for our confidence,” said Portland head coach John Spencer.
Though both sides contributed their share of fouls for a total of 33, Chivas led the way and defender Andrew Boyens was shown a red card in the 43rd minute on a gratuiotous tackle against forward Kenny Cooper, giving the Timbers a perhaps critical one-man advantage in the second half.
Although the Boys in Green dominated on possession and controlled much of the match, they still struggled with execution in the final third of the field, missing several golden opportunities including a Cooper header just 20 seconds in. Colombian striker Jorge Perlaza showed several flashes of brilliance, but continued to struggle as well.
Third string goalkeeper Jake Gleeson had a great night with several saves including a one-on-one against Chivas forward Marcos Mondaini. Gleeson was in as a replacement for second string goalkeeper Adin Brown who went out with a hamstring injury at the half in last Saturday’s match against Toronto FC. First string goalkeeper Troy Perkins remains out with a knee injury.
The win sets up a match against the San Jose Earthquakes at a yet to be determined date in April. Of the eight US Open Cup slots that go to MLS sides, six go to the top six teams from last year. The final two go to teams determined through play-in matches. The tournament proper does not start until summer.