January 29, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Portland Timbers
TUCSON, Ariz. - Newly acquired Designated Player Diego Valeri scored a goal in his Portland Timbers debut, forward Jose Valencia added a goal and an assist and midfielder Kalif Alhassan recorded a well-placed second-half goal as the Timbers defeated the Colorado Rapids 3-1 at Kino Sports Complex on Tuesday in their first preseason match of 2013.
In the first of four preseason matches during a 12-day camp in Tucson, Ariz., Timbers head coach Caleb Porter fielded a separate lineup in each half against the Rapids (0-1-0 preseason). Valeri's goal in the first half lifted the Timbers (1-0-0 preseason) to a 1-0 lead at halftime. Valencia and Alhassan both played the entire second half and helped Portland build a 3-0 lead before forward Deshorn Brown pulled one back late for the Rapids.
"For me, there were some positive periods of play on both sides of the ball. There were also a lot of things that we can clean up," Porter said following the match. "What's great about it is, we can use this now as a measuring stick and we can look at trends, we can look at things we need to continue to do well and can continue to reinforce. We can also look at things we need to correct, and that will be the basis of training moving forward. So every time we play a game that allows us to measure ourselves based on what we are doing in training.
"What I was looking for, mostly, was progress. We had eight days to train and we have focused on certain things - every day is a building block. And this was another building block. We wanted to see that there was a positive performance based on our good preparation leading into the game, and I thought, overall, we saw that."
Valeri, seeing his first action with the club, opened the scoring in the 28th minute, scoring on a free kick. From deep down the left side, outside the penalty area, Valeri curled a shot on frame, just beyond the reach of Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens, and inside the far post. New Portland forward Ryan Johnson, who had a rolling shot deflected just wide of the goal late in the first half, drew the foul that set up the free kick goal.
Valencia and Alhassan teamed up to double Portland's lead in the 64th minute. The two combined for passes down the left side before Valencia, under pressure, was able to lay the ball off for Alhassan just inside the box. Alhassan then curled a sharply hit shot past Rapids second-half goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer and inside the top far corner of the goal, giving the Timbers a 2-0 lead.
The Timbers extended their lead to 3-0 in the 80th minute on Valencia's goal. He worked the ball up field and through the Rapids defense before setting up for a shot from the top of the box. Valencia slipped as he attempted his shot, but had enough behind the ball to power it past Maurer.
Colorado scored in the 88th minute, trimming the deficit to 3-1, as Brown finished a cross from the left side by defender Kory Kindle. The two teamed up for a scoring chance earlier in the second half, but Brown's header from the top of the six-yard box was saved by Timbers goalkeeper Milos Kocic, who played the entire second half.
The Rapids nearly stole the lead in the 22nd minute, but forward Kamani Hill's volley from the top of the area hit off the crossbar and the Timbers were able to clear the deflection.
The Timbers play Sporting Kansas City in their next preseason match Friday at Kino Sports Complex at 5 p.m. (Pacific). The match will be streamed live at www.portlandtimbers.com.