By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The new guys in town sure did make a good impression in their first showing.
With the Portland Timbers U23 squad opening their season, with their exhibition game versus PDX FC in the Cherry City, it was something seeing the fans filling McCulloch Stadium on Sunday.
The game started with the soccer tradition of the walk-out and the National Anthem sang by McKay students Yana ad Julie in front of an energized crowd that filtered in on the Sunday afternoon in May.
“It was really unexpected,” said Yana . “It was last minute but it was nice, it was really nice. It was an honor to do it.”
“Yeah it was suppose to be a group but the group didn’t make it so we had to do it.” Said Julie. “I was (nervous) but (Yana) sings a lot and I don’t.
Starting in goal for the Timbers was Cascade-Grad and Corban University goalkeeper Jordan Farr as Salem has fielded their first Deveolpmental team since the Cascade Surge dissolved in 2009 after over a decade of soccer in the area leading up to the Surge’s final year.
“Its just going to be a special year I think,” said Farr. “Salem’s been wanting a soccer team ever since Surge left and it’s been growing in anticipation, espically with the Capital FC doing so well and growing as they do, the soccer family in Salem has been growing as well. And I feel like, there’s a large connection between people, the fans and the some of the local players and we’re just going to integrate the new guys that are new to Salem, perhaps they’re from Portland or around and bring them right into that soccer family that I’ve known for 22 years.
“So it’s just exciting, even with Capital Timebrs, being apart of so much the team and playing with them ever since I was four-years-old, it’s kind of surreal to be apart of the PDL team not only associated not only with them but with the City of Salem.”
The game kicked off and both sides traded a series of goals to start the game as the Timbers U23 were finding their groove in their first game-action together as a unit.
With the game tied at two after PDX FC’s second goal in the 28th-minute, Portland pieced it together as they scored twice in the final 17 minutes, in the 37th and the 43rd for the 4-2 halftime lead behind goals by Rey Ortiz and Rolando Velazquez.
“It was like a 0-0 game and we said, ‘let’s go, let’s get another one’ and right away, we didn’t let down and we just went for it,” said Gio Magana-Rivera.
Feeding off the mojo from the first half and the energy from the crowd, the Timbers U23’s continued their strong performance offensively with three more goals and played a shutout second half for their 7-2 debut in Salem.
“This is our first time all together playing in a game and I thought we did really well,” said Magana-Rivera who had a goal and a assist in the exhibition. “I mean we had a few little downs but other than that, it was pretty good for our first time.
“We all have the energy, the intensity, the commitment and we all worked hard for that. I think we had a great group out here that’s committed and wants to win and it wants to score seven goals in every game.”
Francisco Amorosino had two goals in the exhibition, Josh Noonkester and Willie Spurr added one goal apiece. Farr’s Corban teammate Timur Zhividze had a assist in the game as the Portland Timbers U23 take away some lessons they can improve upon entering their preseason finale versus the Southern Oregon Fuego Wednesday at McCulloch Stadium at 7pm.
“We have a tough team on Wednesday that’s going to be a little bit better, more organized than the FC even though they were talented,” said Farr. “So we just got to get our stuff together, defensive line shaped worked itself out as the game went on, so we’re just excited to keep going.”
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald