It was a blustery day in Arizona as the Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbers kicked off their pre-seasons, and the incredibly windy weather didn't help an already sloppy affair as the Rapids fell 3-1.
The Rapids started a fairly mundane lineup, featuring Atiba Harris as their center forward and Brian Mullan as their starting right back in the more interesting moves. Past that, it was a fairly expected group: Martin Rivero, Pablo Mastroeni and Hendry Thomas in the midfield, and easy to guess wingers. There was good news though, Anthony Wallace was back in business with the start!
As we expected, the game was incredibly sloppy. To wit: it took until the 22nd minute for the first good chance of the game for either team, at least one that wasn't a failed set piece, when Kamani Hill slammed it into the crossbar from 20 yards out.
Portland opted to play a highly pressurized game by pressing whoever had the ball, trying to work more on the counter-attack with through balls to Darlington Nagbe. Though it took a while for the team to start holding the ball better, Colorado was opting to try and hold the ball and work it up to a roaming Martin Rivero as a link to the forwards. That's likely a preview of the sort of soccer we can expect them to try all season.
Diego Valeri scored the first goal of the game in the 28th minute when the Timbers earned a free kick right outside the box and curled a perfect ball right into the low corner, untouched. Colorado's play was a bit better after the goal, but they were never able to find the back of the net and it was 1-0 going into halftime.
In the second half, as expected, the Rapids changed their entire starting XI, including putting all three SuperDraft picks onto the field.
With the two backup teams on the field, the Rapids immediately showed much better than they did in the first half. DeShorn Brown and Andre Akpan got quick headers toward goal to open the scoring chances of the second half, and the possession game worked far better. Colorado dominated the first eight minutes or so of the second frame, even as they didn't get a goal.
If there was one guy that made a solid name for himself in the half, it was trialist goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. After the Timbers started to get back into the game, he was forced into a string of three or four fantastic saves, and Oscar Pareja will have plenty of reasons to give the former Silverbacks 'keeper the advantage in the race to win the third goalie spot behind Matt Pickens and Steward Ceus.
He couldn't do much about the second-half goal scored by Kalif Alhassan for Portland, a big chip from just outside of the box in the 62nd minute.
Down 2-0 and already suffering one bad-looking injury to Martin Rivero, the Rapids played with a little less intensity following the Alhassan goal. It was not too much of a surprise when Jose Valencia finished off the scoring for Portland with a dribble through the defense and a fabulous in the 79th minute. A few more big Jimmy Maurer saves kept the goal-count at three.
Though the game was essentially over, the Rapids kept trying to attack and a triple-salvo from the Rapids draft picks earned a goal for the burgundy boys. Dillon Powers launched Kory Kindle up the sideline, where he shot a perfect ball onto the head of DeShorn Brown. The ball nicked right underneath the crossbar to kill the shutout hopes for Portland.
It being the first preseason game of the season, there is just about nothing that can actually be gleaned from this game. Seriously. Don't try to analyze it with any real level of seriousness, because there are still fitness and chemistry issues abound with this squad. Just be glad that there's finally some Rapids soccer back on our computer screens.