Match Day 12 will see San Antonio FC back home against one of the MLS “2” teams, Portland Timbers 2. We caught up with Kevin McCamish (KMcCamishpdx) host of the Play The Kids Podcast (@PTKPodcast) to see what’s happening with an impressive Timbers USL squad so far in 2018.
- 1 – (RB90) Timbers are a bit of a surprise team this year, sitting at third on the USL West table. The two matches that jump out at us are two weeks ago when T2 put in 7 goals against Galaxy 2 and maybe even more impressively, defeating top of the table Real Monarchs last week. What has gone so right for Timbers this season?
(KM) 7 goals against Los Dos isn’t as surprising as you may think. While Los Dos has scored an astounding 20 goals in their last 5 matches (going back to a 4-3 loss to Phoenix Rising) they’ve allowed an astounding 17 goals in the same. Before these 5 they couldn’t buy themselves a goal. So they learned how to attack and score, but at what cost? T2’s offense has begun to warm up and figure things out.
With patience, they’ve pulled off some quality late-game finishing to secure all three points (at Colorado, at Seattle, home vs Monarchs). So with the sieve that is the Los Dos defense, tons of goals were expected. T2’s defense has been strong but when you throw everything forward (and you have Efrain Alvarez) even the best defenses will give up goals. You put all of that together (plus a stoppage-time collapse on Los Dos’ part), you get a 7-3 dominating win.
Significantly more impressive is the fact that T2 beat arguably the best team in the west, and one of the best teams in the league. If you had watched the reverse fixture, T2 played the Monarchs evenly IF you don’t count the first 10 minutes of the game. As long as they didn’t fall asleep I figured they might get a draw, which is perfectly acceptable against an elite side such as the Monarchs.
But T2 got all 3 points and handed the Monarchs a 2nd loss of the season (and first against a conference opponent). This result more than anything shows T2 have crossed that line from “maybe lucky, maybe they might make the playoffs” to “this is a playoff team, the only question is how high will they finish”
- 2 – This team has a lot of offensive weapons. And some with very hard to pronounce names! Just to name a few, Foster Langsdorf, Victor Arboleda, and Augustine Williams lead the way on offense. Talk to us about them and the attack overall this season.
Coach Cameron Knowles’ biggest challenge seems to be finding minutes for all the attacking options he has at his disposal. If everyone is healthy and the loanees Ebobisse, Arboleda, and Langsdorf are all with the team he has, at any given time, 6 starting quality attacking pieces to use. Jeremy Ebobisse, Victor Arboleda, Foster Langsdorf, Marvin Loria, Augustine Williams, Darixon Vuelto (who we should see more often going forward I think).
And it doesn’t even cover other players that have been loaned down occasionally like Jack Barmby and Dairon Asprilla. Or another midfield talent like Eryk Williamson. Every player I have listed has a goal this season except Vuelto. You can’t shake a stick without poking someone who can go out there and be a goal scoring threat. It’s exciting.
- 3 – There have been three keepers that have seen time for T2 this season. Kendall McIntosh leads in appearances with 7 and clean sheets with 4. Who is most likely to play against San Antonio and what has been going on with the rotation at GK?
Kendall McIntosh is the priority for getting keeper minutes with T2. He is the first team’s #3 and the priority is to develop him and get him minutes. However, any injury to Attinella or Gleeson means McIntosh has to be on the bench in MLS. Or, as it has been recently, McIntosh himself has a knock and hadn’t been able to play. But now I think Gleeson might be injured just as McIntosh was getting healthy. Alex Mangels has been the primary keeper to get minutes when McIntosh isn’t available so depending on the health situation with all keepers between both teams, I’d expect Mangels to get the start.
- 4 – Looking at the overall numbers heading into this week, Timbers are 2nd in all of USL in goals scored with 22 and tied for first with clean sheets with 7. Those are two stats for a team that would indicate good things are going to happen by the end of the season. What a huge turnaround from 2017 when they were last in USL West. Is this team a threat to win it all?
It’s hard to answer that. Could they, right now, be a dark horse candidate to win the whole thing? Sure. But it’s a long season. Anything can happen. They are on pace to make the playoffs and take a mid-level seed, either a low home or high road seed. If they keep it up they might fall into place behind SLC and Phoenix, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. 4th or 5th in the west continues to be likely though. The first step is making the playoffs. Once you’re in, anything can happen.
- 5 – Talk to us about the dynamic of the senior team and how what is going on in MLS could affect what happens to T2 this season. Has there been a lot of player movement and what do you expect as 2018 plays out?
It has changed this year. In 2017, only 2 of the top 12 appearances in minutes for T2 came from the first team. In 2018 so far, 6 of the top 12 are on first team contracts. They’re using T2 a lot more this season. In addition to seeing more players cycle through T2, there is more chemistry and cohesion in the squad. In the past, it has been 11 talented players on the field. This season is the first time it truly feels like a team effort, regardless of who finds their way into the XI. And with a clearer understanding of how T2 fits into the organization now that Giovanni Savarese is in charge, the players seem to play with greater fervor and passion, knowing they can earn their way to the first team.
- 6 – Tell us something we should know about PT2.
T2 has 23 points in 12 games (an insane 1.92 points per game). The fastest T2 have ever obtained 23 points in a season was in 2015, through 18 games. And it was only a 28-game season in 2015.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – W W D D L, 2018 Home Record 2-2-1
Portland Timbers 2 – W D W W W, 2018 Road Record 3-2-2
San Antonio FC: 14 points, GF 11, GA 12, -1 GD, 9th in USL West
Portland Timbers 2: 23 points, 22 GF, 13 GA, +9 GD, 3rd in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
Portland Timbers 2 have never defeated San Antonio FC. Their lone match at Toyota Field was a 2-1 win for San Antonio last season. All-time SAFC holds the edge 2-1-0.
6/2/18 @ SA
8/15/2018 @ PT2
The Ryan Roushandel game. Some matches are just more memorable than others, and this one definitely qualifies. In a match that was rescheduled due to Hurricane Harvey, San Antonio came out of this October 11, 2017 match with a 2-1 victory behind goals from Ever Guzman and a dramatic second half winner from Ryan Roushandel that led to the world’s greatest corner dog pile celebration ever with Roushandel’s SAFC Academy team players and members of 210 Alliance. It was Roushandel’s first ever goal for SAFC.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
Portland Timbers 2 (7-2-3) at San Antonio FC (3-5-3) #SAvT2
Toyota Field, Saturday, June 2nd
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+, Fox Sports Southwest Plus
Key to victory
When SAFC meets Portland this Saturday night, things will be quite different than in 2017. In 2017 SAFC got off to a hot start that culminated in a second place finish. Portland were winners of only three matches and was the worst team in all of USL, finishing with only 15 points. Fast forward to June 2018 and it has basically been a role reversal. Portland is the team off to the hot third place start, and while SAFC is not heading towards the bottom of the USL, it might feel that way to the fans, as currently, San Antonio sits outside of playoff position entering the second third of the season schedule. It’s fair to say expectations are not being met in the Alamo City so far.
Portland comes into this match off a huge victory, taking down USL West leaders Real Monarchs 1-0 behind a winner from Dairon Asprilla. This team is very much for real, and if anyone was still questioning that, look no further than that victory. That was only the second loss for Monarchs this season. It has been some turnaround for this Portland team. Last season they scored 27 and gave up 63. A very poor ratio. It took them only 12 games to nearly match that scoring effort, as they have 22 on the season. That total is double SAFC’s 11 goals scored. And only four teams have given up fewer than T2’s 13 goals in USL West this season. One of them happens to be SAFC.
For SAFC, if there’s anything to hang their hat on in this USL season so far, it’s definitely the defense. Although this team is nowhere near as dominant as last season’s, it’s still pretty darn good, averaging one goal allowed per game. In most cases, that would be enough to take a team pretty far. But for 2018 SAFC it has proven to be difficult to score, and as a result, this team has only managed three wins. They have not won any match where they haven’t scored multiple goals.
The player bringing the most offensive heat by far at the moment is Omar Gordon. In the last four matches (2 USL, 2 Open Cup) he has three goals and an assist. He scored from a corner kick in Reno last weekend, and you know it has been a struggle on offense when the only goal in the match is a fluky corner kick assisted by a badly misplayed ball from the opposing keeper. Unfortunately, there’s not much else going on offensively for SAFC. Bruce has a lot of promise but is frequently left on an island. Guzman, Murphy and upstart Midfielder Presley remain injured. Seth has mainly been on defense in USL play or a late sub or both. All of that has led to two goals from the true Forward position this season. That’s not good enough in USL or any other league.
In eight of eleven matches this season, SAFC has scored 1 goal or 0 goals. Those numbers are absolutely identical with the 2016 team through 11 games. Although this team has 14 points compared to the 10 for the 2016 team through the same number of games, so there’s that. That 2016 team finished with 36 goals in 30 games and missed the playoffs. Unless the scoring can pick up, this team could be headed for a similar fate. At the moment, it’s a similar trajectory.
San Antonio has never lost to T2 in the short history of the team, but the timing looks ripe for T2 to put an end to that streak. They are absolutely on fire. They have won 4 out of their last 5. They haven’t lost since April 21 – oddly enough, also a 2-1 loss to Reno, just like SAFC last weekend – and they have the look of a team that will challenge for the top spot in USL West, and potentially make a deep playoff run. San Antonio plays really well at Toyota Field but it doesn’t feel like a good matchup for them at this stage in the season. This will be a very large test for the team, which will be followed up by another large test in midweek as FC Dallas comes into Toyota Field for the Open Cup. We’re calling this one for Portland in dominant fashion. And really, if we HAD to lose one of these next two matches, we’d rather it be this one.
San Antonio FC – 1
Portland Timbers 2 – 3
SAFC “Did You Know?”
Former SAFC Midfielder Carlos Alvarez had an own goal at Portland on June 11th, 2016 – a match that ended in a 1-1 draw.