Image: Portland Timbers 2
San Antonio FC defeated Portland Timbers 2 by a score of 4-0 Friday night at Providence Park, continuing their dominant start to the 2017 season and ending their Pacific Northwest road trip on a higher note.
Unlike the first two matches of the trip, which ended with Friday’s match, SAFC Head Coach Darren Powell didn’t rest any players Friday against Portland.
“To get nine points (on the trip) and continue widening our gap between the other teams in the table is great for us,” SAFC defender Sebastien Ibeagha said. “We have a lot of depth on our team and this trip showed that and the good chemistry that we all have.”
As has been customary this season and this road trip in particular, SAFC was content to let their opponent come at them and attack often. Portland held 68.2% of possession in the first half and outshot SAFC 7-2.
As has also been customary this season, SAFC countered and took the lead against the run of play in the 20th minute. After a slip in midfield by a Portland player, forward Cesar Elizondo took the ball and played it forward for midfielder Billy Forbes, who cut inside and fired past Timbers 2 goalkeeper Wade Hamilton.
Forbes’ goal was his sixth of 2017, already breaking the record for most SAFC goals in a single season after forward Franck Tayou and midfielder Rafa Castillo scored five apiece in 2016. Forbes also tied Djiby Fall as the United Soccer League’s leading scorer so far this season.
Portland would continue to push forward and SAFC yet again countered effectively to go up 2-0 in the 34th minute. Forbes and Elizondo were again involved as the former beat his defender on the right flank and crossed the ball in. A weak Portland clearance was capitalized upon by Elizondo, who prodded the ball home from a couple yards out to double SAFC’s lead.
The second half went much like the first with Portland dictating the tempo and SAFC looking to increase their lead on quick counters. The home side did come close to breaching the SAFC defense a few times, prevented only by clearances and the frame of the goal.
Carrying a 2-0 lead into stoppage time, SAFC managed to double it by the final whistle. First, two midfield substitutes combined as Devin Vega found the ball at his feet, ran up the left side and played the ball across the box for Zach Herivaux to coolly slide it into the net. The goal was the midfielder’s first after being loaned from MLS’s New England Revolution exactly a week earlier.
Not long after, SAFC midfielder Michael Reed intercepted a pass and booted the ball upfield for Elizondo to chase with Portland’s defense again caught off guard. The forward controlled the ball and rounded an onrushing Hamilton before sliding the ball into an empty net for his second goal of the night and fourth on the season.
Though the scoreline won’t indicate the close calls, goalkeeper Diego Restrepo still managed to keep his first clean sheet for SAFC in Friday’s game. Restrepo only had to make one save on the night, though the backline in front of him tallied 17 clearances, nine of which came from Ibeagha alone.
”Our players’ collective defensive effort was superb tonight,” Powell said. “When you only have a few days rest in a week, it’s pleasing to see the guys work that hard and manage the game in such a professional manner.”
The win extended SAFC’s lead at the top of the USL western conference to seven points over Real Monarchs SLC, who has two games in hand. The seven-match unbeaten streak to start the season is also SAFC’s best in club history.
SAFC’s Pacific Northwest road trip could hardly have gone better results-wise with three wins in as many matches. The club will now return home to Toyota Field for three straight USL contests and potentially a US Open Cup clash. The first of these matches will be May 6 when Sacramento Republic FC visits Toyota Field for the first time ever.
SAFC Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Diego Restrepo; Ben Newnam, Sebastien Ibeagha, Stephen McCarthy, Greg Cochrane; Michael Reed(c), Pecka; Kris Tyrpak (Zach Herivaux 84’), Rafa Castillo (Devin Vega 89’), Billy Forbes (Shawn Chin 69’); Cesar Elizondo
Substitutes not used: Johnston, Roushandel, Ajeakwa, Hassan
SAFC Discipline: Ben Newnam (yellow card, 45th minute – second of the season)