Soccer City pounds brothers from Philly, 3-1

Boyd scores on a night of firsts for the Timbers in MLS regular season opener
March 12, 2012 / By Mike Donovan, oregonsports.com
Kris Boyd scored in his Major League Soccer opener Monday.
Photo by Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com.

In the opening match of their second MLS campaign, the Portland Timbers used a series of firsts to defeat the Philadelphia Union, 3-1, on a soaking wet night at Jeld-Wen Field. 

Kris Boyd and Andrew Jean-Baptiste scored on their MLS debuts, while Kalif Alhassan scored in his first MLS goal and first regular season goal ever in Portland to lead the way for the Timbers. The club also won after conceding the first goal, something it was unable to do in 17 chances in 2011.

After a scoreless and sometimes slow-paced first half, the Union were the ones to get on the score sheet first when a Gabriel Gomez free kick found the back of the net after a deflection by Jean-Baptiste. While officially a Gomez goal, even Jean-Baptiste admitted after the match he was the one who put it in.

“We all make mistakes. Every defender who has played has scored an own goal,” Jean-Baptiste said after the match. “After that, I tried to get the team back in the game.”

And Jean-Baptiste did just that by putting in a Jack Jewsbury free kick with a little help from a floundering Zac MacMath. Jean-Baptiste, who was drafted 10th overall by the Timbers in this season’s MLS draft, was only making the start after Hanyer Mosquera was unable to secure his International Transfer Certificate before the match.

After Jean-Baptiste goal, it was all Timbers. Boyd found the net 12 minutes after Jean-Baptiste’s goal, when Alhassan served up a beautiful cross to the Scotsman. All MacMath could do was watch as Boyd’s header went across his body and into the net.

Boyd’s goal gave the Timbers a quick return on their multi-million dollar investment. Coach John Spencer said postmatch that he hoped Boyd will be able to “build a house with his log slices” and Boyd will become a legend in Portland.

Alhassan’s first ever MLS goal sealed the win for Portland, as his cross found the inside of the net as a helpless MacMath could do nothing to stop the ball from going in. Alhassan had a second half to remember with a goal, an assist, and with multiple plays where he dribbled through the union defense.

While the Timbers played exceptional in the second 45, the first half saw few chances for either team. The best chance was an Eric Alexander chip that was deflected just wide by MacMath.

Portland started the match with numerous potential starters out due to injury or contract issues with Franck Songo’o, Futty Danso, Sal Zizzo, and Hanyer Mosquera all left out of the 18-man gameday roster.

My men of the match were Jean-Baptiste, who looked strong at the back despite his one mistake and Boyd, who showed Monday why he was brought to Portland.

Portland was 0-13-4 after conceding the first goal in a game last season. Jack Jewsbury’s two assists tie him for the league lead with Blas Perez of Dallas and Colorado’s Kosuke Kimura. Western Conference teams were 5-1 versus Eastern Conference teams during the first week of MLS play

The Timbers take on FC Dallas Saturday at Pizza Hut Park at 5:30 Pacific time. 

For coverage of every game, check out OregonSports.com and twitter.com/TheMikeDonovan.

Don’t forget that OregonSports will be broadcasting its new web series, No Pity City, every Tuesday night at 8:30 P.M. live from the Bulldog Tavern.

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