Swope Park Rangers next opponent will be another familiar face in fellow MLS affiliate club, Timbers 2
Swope Park Rangers came away with a 1-1 draw on the road against a very good Sacramento Republic FC team this past weekend. They did this despite a very injury stricken team (Christian Duke was forced into playing center mid, Daniel Salloi out on the wing, and Jacob Vancompernolle at left back).
Swope Park Rangers do have some reinforcements coming. New signing Ayrton Pinheiro should be arriving this week, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Marc Dos Santos allows him to get his first appearance this weekend in their game against Portland Timbers 2. Also with the return of Roger Espinoza to Sporting KC, after serving his one game suspension, I wonder if Jordi Quintilla could be loaned back down to SPR. This being said I’m not sure it would happen given the fact that Jordi was already on loan with the Rangers before and only featured once.
The Rangers opened their inaugural season with a game against Timbers 2 back in April, and since then both teams have been about average. The Timbers do sit four spots ahead of the Rangers in the west, but with a win on Saturday SPR could take over that 6th place spot. The question is what will this fellow MLS affiliated club look like?
If you want to talk about a team that has the capability to let in goals in bunches it’s this Timbers 2 team. In 11 games this season the Timbers have only managed to stop their opponent 3 times from finding the back of their net. Their captain is Matt Bester’s little brother, Nick Besler. Besler was the number fifth pick in the MLS Superdraft last year for the Timbers. Nick is not a center back like his brother, but does a play similar role being the shield for the back line at defensive center mid. With an aging Diego Chara playing for the first team you have to wonder if Nick might be given the reins at some point.
Now if we’re going to talk about the back line itself then we have to talk about Marco Farfan. Farfan is Timbers 2’s left back and he is just 17, but the youngster has started every game for the Timbers this season. Along side Farfran is the center back pairing of Trevor Morley and Michael Gallagher, which is very new. Their last week game against Seattle Sounders 2 was just the second time that the two had played together. The pair is both tall and physical and do a good job of winning balls, but most importantly do a great job of building out of the back.
Timbers 2 do an excellent job of possessing the ball and it all stems from Morley and Gallagher finding the feet of Besler, who does an excellent job of always finding the little pockets of space to make it easy for his center backs. At right back the Timbers have another youngster in Terrell Lowe. Lowe is young but very quick and athletic, and supposedly has spent a fair bit of time playing with the first time in training.
While the Timbers back line is good, it is very young. I fully anticipate the slightly more seasoned attack of SPR to take advantage of the youth of and inexperience of the Timbers back line.
The leading goal scorer for Timbers 2 is Neco Brett with three goals this season. The 24-year-old Jamaican received some time with the first team during their 4-2 win over Vancouver Whitecaps a few weeks ago. Some saw this as a reward for what some would call consistent play with the USL side. Brett will play out on the right in the 4-5-1, and up top will be the speedy Kharlton Belmar. Belmar has twice received USL Team of the Week honors this season and has tallied two goals and three assists during his 11 games this season.
The playmaker behind Belmar is the Bulgarian, and Liverpool youth academy product, Villyan Bijev. Bijev does have some play making ability, but occasionally he’ll play with his back to goal and look to be a wall pass for Timbers players to get some quick combination with. This is not to say that he won’t turn and have a shot himself, which he did do against the Sounders last weekend.
Overall the Timbers attack does have a few weapons, but I do believe that SPR can deal with this side, just like they did the first week of the season.
Portland Timbers 2 is a good USL side. Just like the Rangers, the Timbers have plenty of young players that possess a lot of talent. They have a back line that seems to be finding form, and an attacking core that is full of speedy and athleticism. This being said I believe SPR should be able to go on the road and at least get a draw against the Timbers. Primarily though I look forward to the debut of Pineiro, and how he will link up with his old teammate Ualefi in the midfield. You can catch the game on USL’s youtube channel and the game will kick off at 8:00 p.m.