PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Timbers spent most of Wednesday’s international friendly at JELD-WEN Field just trying to win the ball from AFC Ajax so they could do something with it.
The Dutch champions controlled most of the possession, dictated the tempo of the match and ultimately earned a 2-0 victory over the Timbers in front of a sold-out crowd of 18,627.
Ajax broke down the Timbers’ defense in the 17th minute. Vurnon Anita initiated a scoring opportunity by playing a ball to Gregory van der Wiel, who skipped a ball across the Timbers’ six-yard box and three flat-footed defenders to Lorenzo Ebecilio, who slotted it home.
In the 89th minute, Demy de Zeeuw wheeled and scored in front of the Timbers’ net on an assist from Araz Özbiliz.
The Timbers jumbled the lineup Wednesday, resting a few players while welcoming back a few others back from injuries. Only four from the usual lineup — Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace, Jeremy Hall and Kenny Cooper — started against Ajax.
Jack Jewsbury sat out the game and the Timbers missed his service on set pieces. Darlington Nagbe and Jorge Perlaza also weren’t dressed. Goalkeeper Troy Perkins and Diego Chará did not play.
The Timbers are 5-0 at home in MLS play this season but have dropped both non-league contests they’ve played this year at JELD-WEN Field.
Coach John Spencer experimented with a 4-3-3 formation, starting with Sal Zizzo, Cooper and Ryan Pore up top. But the Timbers had difficulty getting numbers forward as their possessions were fewer and short-lived.
Portland did have a couple of viable opportunities to score. In the first half, Pore had a pair of promising shots from close range, and Cooper connected a well-timed cross to Lowry, who wasn’t able to get his header on frame.
In the second half, Portland brought five fresh substitutes into the game but had no luck finding an equalizer. The best chance came in the 57th minute, when David Horst got his head on a Pore corner kick. The header didn’t go in, but bounced to Eddie Johnson, who blasted the ball off the upright. The Lowry had a shot at it and Ajax goalkeeper Jeroern Verhoeven made the save.
Two minutes earlier, the Timbers defense dodged a bullet when Daley Blind’s left-footed strike from the top of the 18-yard box hit the cross bar and went over the net.
The Timbers return to MLS play on Sunday when they welcome D.C. United to JELD-WEN Field.
AJX -- Lorenzo Ebecilio (Gregory van der Wiel, Vurnon Anita) 18
AJX -- Demy de Zeeuw (Araz Özbiliz, Lorenzo Ebecilio) 89
AFC Ajax -- Jeroern Verhoeven, Gregory van der Wiel (Demy de Zeeuw 62), Toby Alderweireld, Jan Vertonghen, Vurnon Anita, Eyong Enoh, Siem de Jong (Oleguer 68), Daley Blind, Darío Cvitanich (André Ooijer 80), Araz Özbiliz, Lorenzo Ebecilio.
Substitutes Not Used: Miralem Sulemani, Kenneth Vermeer.
Portland Timbers -- Adin Brown, Jeremy Hall (Freddie Braun 46), David Horst, Eric Brunner (Mamadou Danso 46), Rodney Wallace (Chris Taylor 46), Peter Lowry (Rodrigo Lopez 62), James Marcelin, Adam Moffat, Sal Zizzo (Brian Umony 46), Kenny Cooper (Eddie Johnson 46), Ryan Pore (Kalif Alhassan 84).
Substitutes Not Used: Diego Chará, Spencer Thompson, Troy Perkins.
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: Mike Kampmeinert; Mike Rottersman
4th Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Time of Game: 1:47
Weather: Partly Cloudy and 56 degrees