The Portland Timbers celebrate a goal against the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2016 US Open Cup. Photo: Jeff Wong | Prost Amerika
Let’s get this out of the way: Timbers Open Cup matches have a history of being weird. Entertaining, but weird. One need only look as far back as last season’s match against the Seattle Sounders, a game fans of both sides refer to as the Red Card Wedding, the result of which may be a six-year suspension of USMNT player Clint Dempsey.
But, while Tuesday night’s match against MLS opponent San Jose was entertaining, it wasn’t really weird. In the end, after a lack of drama, the Timbers emerged with a 2-0 victory.
The two sides met prior to the international break in a rough-and-tumble league match that ended 2-1 in Portland, earning the home team three points in the league standings despite playing down a man for the entire second half.
The Timbers were fast out of the gate with Jack Barmby slipping past the Earthquakes’ defense early in the first half, shuffling the ball to Dairon Asprilla, who couldn’t quite get a handle on it. It was just the first of many close calls in a game that grew progressively more chippy as the minutes flew by.
“I thought everything went exactly the way we’d hoped,” Portland coach Caleb Porter said. “We played nine guys 25 years old or younger, started seven. That’s a real positive that we can play a lot of young guys, mix them in with some experienced guys … and get the job done. That gives us a lot of hope for the future.”
Portland’s two goals were scored by two of those younger players: the 34th minute goal came from Dairon Asprilla, 24, and the 40th minute goal came off a stunning freekick from Jack McInerney, 23.
“I think we knew what to expect,” Portland’s Jack Jewsbury said after the game. “I think everybody tonight, when their number was called, put in a great shift.”
“Every year’s different, every team’s different,” Porter said. “We made a decision four or five games ago that we need to be a team … that’s on the front foot more. Our pressure has been much better the last five or six games, our possession has been much better. I think we’ve become a little more multi-faceted this year than we were last year.”
Portland will now wait for the results of this round’s other matches and the draw to follow on June 16.