|My vantage point for the night (Jennifer Kesgard)|
While the talk had been mostly centered around the additions of Sebastian Blanco and David Guzman to a stacked offense and whether former USL Timber Lawrence Olum would be the answer at center back for now, it was two holdover players that carried the bulk of the offense. Midfielder Diego Valeri netted two goals on the night - a 47th minute header off an assist from Blanco that was his first headed goal in MLS play, and converting a 82nd minute penalty effort - and assisted on the opening goal of the night. The other returnee that continued his very torrid spring - tallying 6 goals in preseason play - was forward Fanendo Adi, who scored a brace in second half stoppage time to continue his reputation as "the Orthadontist". Adi converted goal one after a superb end to end run from Darlington Nagbe, who took a deflected shot and drove it nearly to the 18 yard box around several defenders, but dropped a wonderful pass to Adi as the defense surrounded him. The Minnesota United defense couldn't stop Adi as he tapped in the shot with his right foot, but just 2 minutes later, Adi added the second off a throw when he outmaneuvered three defenders and Minnesota United keeper John Alvbage for a wonderful shot with the left for the brace.
|I could hardly keep up on the tweets. (Jennifer Kesgard)|
Minnesota United struggled most of the night to try to find any offense, although midfielder Kevin Molino had a few opportunities from distance that barely troubled Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. There were glimmers of hope for the Loons with over 700 traveling supporters making the journey to Providence Park to support their side in song. Their efforts were rewarded in the 75th minute when forward Johan Vanegas, playing a lone striker role for the first 69 minutes until MUFC Coach Adrian Heath brought on Christian Ramirez as a second striker for midfielder Rasmus Schuller, found Ramirez at the top of the box between Olum and Timbers center back Liam Ridgewell. Ramirez was able to turn and shoot before Ridgewell could mark him, and the effort struck the net past Gleeson for the Loons' first ever MLS goal.
In many ways, the goal reminded me a lot of the strike by then Timbers striker Kenny Cooper in the Timbers' MLS debut - it gave a glimmer of happiness for the new team after being dominated for most of the match - but one difference here was that the Ramirez strike pulled MUFC to within a goal at 2 to 1 in the 75th minute. The momentum was short lived for Minnesota United, however, once MUFC defender Vadim Demidov pulled Adi down in the box as the Timbers Army were singing "You Are My Sunshine" and Penso pointed to the spot. Valeri did the rest, Adi added a late flourish and the home fans were able to leave happy with a dominant result.
|Beer helps viewings. Is this how this works? (J.Kesgard)|