1:07pm – The gates are open at Jeld-Wen Field
It promises to be a special day for Timbers fans as two versions of the team face off against each other.
John Spencer returns to the place where it could’ve all gone so right what seems like so long ago. He takes charge of a team plucked from his time as head coach, while current head coach Caleb Porter will put out his XI.
The coaches met at a public “auction” for those players that significantly overlapped both regimes a few days ago, when it was decided by way of weighted ballot that Jack Jewsbury would play for Spencer’s team, while Darlington Nagbe would play for Porter, being a former protege of the young coach. That left Diego Chara’s status up in the air, but both sides came to an agreement that he would play one half for either team, beginning with Porter’s team.
We’re waiting of final confirmation of teams, but will update as soon we get it.
Club owner Merritt Paulson tactfully ducks the question of who he’ll be supporting. The atmosphere around the ground, building steadily, is positive. There are a few Scottish flags out there, wonder who they’ll be supporting today?
2:08pm- The teams are in
Porter’s XI – Ricketts; Harrington, Silvestre, Jean-Baptiste, Miller; W Johnson (c), Chara*; Nagbe, Valeri, Alhassan; R Johnson
Subs: Zemanski, Piquionne, Wallace
Spencer’s XI – Perkins; Smith, Brunner, Mosquera, Purdy; Alexander, Jewsbury, Palmer, Songo’o; Boyd, Cooper
Subs: Zizzo, Perlaza, Marcelin
Little surprise in Porter’s selection. Looks like a 4-2-3-1. It’ll be interesting to see how the change when they lose Chara at half-time.
Spencer’s team looks like a 4-4-2. Alexander’s inclusion possible thanks to a late deal to trade Wallace to Porter in exchange for Zizzo. Looks like Lovel Palmer will be given the man marking job on Valeri… That could be interesting.
Players leave the field. Even the old guys getting a good welcome back.
Spencer has the Timbers’ two top scorers in 2011 and 2012 in attack, so expect them to go direct and get them involved, but whether they can see enough of the ball to do anything is the big question. There’s not a lot of mobility in Jewsbury/Palmer in the middle.
The anthem has been sung, and “PT – FC” reverberates around the ground as Kenny Cooper and Kris Boyd get this extraordinary match underway.
A cagey start so far, with Porter’s team dominating possession but finding it hard to penetrate the two banks of four that Spencer has set up with. Perhaps frustrated by lack of action near the box, Valeri wors a one-two with Nagbe, ghosting past a half-hearted Jewsbury challenge before unleashing a shot towards Perkins’ goal under pressure from Eric Brunner. The shot rises half a yard over the bar, with Perkins stranded.
The pattern is set. Porter’s XI get the ball, build up patiently, but run out of space and time in the final third. Spencer’s XI are looking to get Boyd or Cooper in from a quick ball out of the back, with support from Songo’o or Nagbe. Neither having much joy in the final third so far.
Drama! Harrington gets in down the left, released by a Will Johnson pass. Purdy is out of position, and Palmer, covering back, looks to foul Harrington right on the corner of the box. Harrington goes down, but the ball breaks to Nagbe, who takes a touch to steady himself before getting a shot off that is parried by Perkins, then cleared by Mosquera with Ryan Johnson poised to pounce.
Was it a penalty? It would’ve been mighty close. Caleb Porter doesn’t look pleased, but he should be – his team are in control here.
Spencer’s team are having real trouble getting the ball going down the flanks. Alexander is drifting infield to compensate for the team’s lack of numbers in the middle, and Songo’o has been wasteful in possession so far. Boyd looks like he’s seen this before. Cooper is working hard, but is chasing shadows right now.
A Perkins goal kick is returned by the head of Jean-Baptiste. Valeri and Palmer compete over the ball, with the Jamaican emerging in possession. He feeds it to Jewsbury and his diagonal pass into Boyd’s feet draws a clumsy foul from behind by Jean-Baptiste. Boyd’s down, could be hurt. Looks like an elbow on the back of the head.
Boyd will continue, but is off the field for attention when Jewsbury takes the free kick. In all the confusion it seems Jean-Baptiste was booked. Jewsbury hits an inswinger to the back post, where it is met by Brunner. The ball thunders off the bar and over.
Spencer’s team are starting to get some possession in the opposition half, but when Cooper tries to feed in Boyd, the pass is cut out by Silvestre. After some neat one and two touch passing, the ball finds it’s way to Alhassan on the left. He bamboozles Smith, leaving the Scot on the turf, before hooking a fantastic ball to the far post that drops between Ryan Johnson and Diego Valeri. Mosquera’s header falls right into the path of an onrushing Will Johnson, but he volleys it into the ground, and it bounces clear over the bar.
The match has slowed down a bit. Porter’s team took the game by the scruff of the neck early on, but Spencer’s team have come battling back. They’re outworking Porter’s boys right now, disrupting their passing, but haven’t managed to get Boyd or Cooper involved enough.
Chances have been few and far between. Porter’s boys have had a couple of sights st goal from distance, but Perkins hasn’t had to work. Boyd had a shot that was blocked by Jean-Baptiste.
30 mins – GOAL!
No sooner do I bemoan the lack of clear cut chances and then Diego Valeri conjures one out of nothing. The ball is chipped into him, with Palmer tight to his back. He holds Palmer off, and fends off the attentions of Jewsbury to lay the ball into the path of Nagbe. He drove past Palmer and rifled a low shot towards the far corner that was saved by Perkins, but the rebound went straight to Ryan Johnson, who reacts in time to push the ball over the line from ten yards. 1-0 to Porter’s Timbers.
The goal has livened the place up a bit, and it’s no less than Porter’s team deserve. John Spencer is patrolling his technical area like a caged animal. He’s not happy with what he’s seeing, and no wonder. Despite having a spell on top, Porter’s boys have still had 64% of possession – and they’re outshooting their predecessors too. You have to fear for Spencer’s XI right now.
2-0! No! But, it should’ve been 2-0. Ryan Johnson profited from a slip by Brunner to get through on goal and score low past Perkins, but it’s pulled back for offside. Replays suggest that Johnson was in line with Purdy when Jean-Baptiste had launched the ball forward.
Some signs of life in Spencer’s team. Songo’o seems to have woken up, and he’s been giving Harrington a torrid time in the last five minutes or so. With a better delivery into the box, he could’ve got Spenny’s boys back into this, but his crossing has been poor so far.
It’s all about Franck Songo’o right now. He turns Harrington inside-out, dumping him down before dropping a shoulder and going past Silvestre. His shot is blocked by Ricketts, but Jean-Baptiste clears the ball off him, the ball rebounding agonisingly wide of the post.
Caleb Porter is the Timbers coach most looking forward to the break right now. His team are struggling to get their rhythm going, and Silvestre is almost caught out by Kenny Cooper when they tried to play it out from the back, but Jean-Baptiste was across to cover and clear the ball before Cooper could get it under control.
Into injury time, there won’t be long, with both teams seemingly counting off time till the break. Spencer’s boys really picked up the pace after the let off with Johnson’s offside “goal” and pushed Porter’s team onto the backfoot.
45+3 mins – HALF TIME
The half-time whistle blows before Jack Jewsbury can take a free kick. It’s been a nervy affair. Both teams have had chances, but Porter’s have been more clear-cut, and they’ve taken one of them.
Given the way that Porter’s team were unable to really make their numerical supremacy in midfield count, they may use the enforced loss of Chara to change their shape a bit.
Spencer will mostly likely want to start the second half as they finished the first. Chara for Palmer seems the logical change, and may even give them that little extra drive in midfield that they need.
Rodney Wallace is out warming up. Looks like he’ll be replacing Diego Chara in Porter’s line-up. No word on who is out for Spencer’s.
The teams are returning to the field. Palmer is one of the first out for Spencer’s team.
3:58pm – SUBSTITUTIONS
Chara off, Wallace on (Porter’s XI)
Purdy off, Chara on (Spencer’s XI)
Purdy sits out the second half. He did a decent job in the first half keeping Nagbe quiet, but didn’t offer much in attack to support Songo’o. Palmer slots in here, so we’ll see if he does any better. Chara and Jewsbury in the middle.
Porter’s XI look to be playing the same shape, with Wallace alongside Will Johnson.
Darlington Nagbe picks the ball up right in front of the technical areas, and drives past Chara. He works a one-two with Valeri, and get the ball back on the edge of the box. With Palmer all over his back, he gets a shot off, which is saved, but goes down under Palmer. Is that a foul? The ref doesn’t think so, but Nagbe doesn’t look happy.
A Jack Jewsbury free kick from the right is stopped from going out by a tenacious Steven Smith. The Scot curls a delicious ball into the area, but it’s too high for Boyd and Cooper’s attempt at a spectacular overhead kick puts the ball out for a throw-in. Cooper is claiming a push from Silvestre, to no avail.
56 mins – SUBSTITUTION
Alhassan off, Zemanski on
Porter makes his first unenforced change, putting on Zemanski to replace Alhassan, who has drifted out of the match in the second half.
Yellow card for Songo’o. I’d almost forgotten he was on the field until he went diving recklessly in on Wallace. Wallace is fine, but Porter doesn’t look pleased with the Colombian at all.
Porter’s XI continue to dominate possession (63%, stat fans). They’ve switched Wallace into the left forward role, with Nagbe going to the right and Zemanski in the middle with Johnson.
Chara and Jewsbury are doing well to choke the ball when it gets near the 18 yard line, but it’s leaving the two strikers ever more isolated.
Valeri gets one on frame from 30 yards. He was looking to bend one into the far corner, but he didn’t get enough pace on it and it was easy for Perkins to get to.
64 mins – GOAL
Out of nowhere, we have an equaliser. Both teams seemed to be cancelling each other out when a loose pass by Valeri was pounced upon by Chara. He drove forward, riding the challenge of Zemanski before poking the ball in to Boyd. The Scot does well to get the ball out of his feet, and gets a shot off. The flight seems to catch Ricketts off guard and he fumbles what looked a relatively straight-forward save right into the path of Chara. It’s 1-1. and Chara’s got the goal.
The goal seems to have stung Porter’s boys into life. The ball is moving noticeably faster along the ground, and they’re starting to push Spencer’s team back.
Will Johnson should’ve made it 2-1. A Valeri free-kick wasn’t cleared by the defence, and in the melee the ball fell to Johnson on the six yard line, but he got his boot under the ball, and it looped up into the arms of Perkins.
71 mins – SUBSTITUTION
Cooper off, Perlaza on
Songo’o off, Zizzo on
A decent shift by Cooper, though he didn’t manage to get a shot on target. Balanced surprisingly well with Boyd, but they were starved of the ball by Porter’s team. He gets a good ovation going off, and applauds the North End.
Songo’o had the spell before half-time, but has been very quiet otherwise.
Perlaza had a chance to make it 2-1 for Spencer’s team, but he screwed his shot wide of the goal. Porter’s team had been caught up field when Jewsbury took a quick free kick. A long ball put in Boyd behind Silvestre, and the Scot laid it back for Perlaza on the penalty spot, but he fired wide with Jean-Baptiste closing him down.
Porter’s team are getting a bit anxious on the ball. The final pass is being rushed, or overhit, and Silvestre looks to be feeling the pace out there.
80 mins – SUBSTITUTION
Boyd off, Marcelin on
Kris Boyd sees a shot from 25 yards blocked by Zemanski, and that’s his last kick of the ball as he’s withdrawn for James Marcelin.
Both teams lining up in a 4-3-3, but Spencer’s team are much more towards the 4-5-1 end of the scale. Marcelin is stuck to Valeri like glue. Seems like Spencer is settling for the draw here.
83 mins – GOAL
Wallace and Harrington combine down the left, with Wallace outstripping Palmer to the byline. His cross is met by the head of Ryan Johnson, who had lost Mosquera, and Perkins is beaten. 2-1 to Porter’s XI.
Spencer’s team almost equalise straight from the kick-off. Perlaza holds off Silvestre, and lays the ball into the path of Jewsbury, His first shot is blocked by Will Johnson, but he’s first to the loose ball, and manages to roll a pass into Alexander. His shot has Ricketts beaten, but it rolls just wide of the far post, with Harrington almost getting a touch on it for what would surely have been an own goal.
87 mins – GOAL
Another goal, and this time it’s game over. 3-1 to Porter’s team. A sequence of corners culminated in the fourth, swung over by Valeri. Perkins hesitates on coming for it and it drops perfectly onto the head of Silvestre, who makes no mistake. It’s been coming, but still, Spencer will think back to the Perlaza and Alexander chances and think of what may have been.
Forty-one passes. I counted them all. Every one of Porter’s team touched the ball at least once. It began with Ricketts and ended with Ryan Johnson firing over from 20 yards. And that looks to be Johnson’s last action…
90 mins- SUBSTITUTION
R Johnson off, Piquionne on
Two minutes into the minimum of three indicated for stoppages, and it’s almost 4-1, and what a goal it would’ve been. A careless backpass by Marcelin puts Perkins under pressure. The keeper’s hasty clearance dropped to Will Johnson in the centre circle. He took a touch and sent it arcing back towards goal from fully 50 yards. The ball dropped a couple of yards wide of the left hand post, and Johnson gets a consoling pat on the head from his opposite number, Jack Jewsbury.
90+4 mins – FULL TIME
The ref blows for full-time. Spencer and Porter exchange handshakes, jerseys are swapped on the field. Porter’s XI have won 3-1, and while that would be a fair result, it doesn’t tell the whole story of a match that could’ve gone very differently.
A special log slice presentation in front of the North End sees each of the players presented with a slice of their own.
Porter will feel the 3-1 result reflects the extent of his team’s control while Spencer may feel that things could been so different with a bit of luck here or there. In the end, the better team won.
5:13pm – Goodnight
Thanks for joining us on this special occasion. Two teams faced off today, but there are only one Portland Timbers. Players will come and go; some will leave positive impressions, some won’t. They same is true for coaches, but not for fans or the club itself. They remain, if you pardon the pun, rooted so that whatever the season, whoever wears the shirts, they’ll be there.
John Spencer leads his team out of Jeld-Wen Field tonight, for the final time. Though some may return from time to time, their work is done.