PORTLAND, Ore. – On a beautiful summer evening, the Portland Timbers got a taste of the beautiful game played at the highest level when the world’s richest soccer club, Manchester City, opened their American preseason tour with a 3-0 victory over the local squad at the University of Portland's Merlo Field.
It was a hard-fought match with hard tackles and intense play from the Timbers, who respected the English giants but played with no fear. Late first-half goals by Stephen Ireland, Emmanuel Adebayor and a second-half strike from Jô led City to victory in the match.
City’s star striker, Adebayor, said Portland gave his club a good test with hard tackles giving them a strong, hardnosed game “like they have in England.”
The Timbers’ Derek Gaudet played an excellent game, getting several scoring opportunities in the first half, including a sixth-minute strike that forced backup England keeper Joe Hart into a nice save pushing the ball out for a corner.
After the 15th minute, City started to assume more control of the game. The players maintained better possession and used the space to great effect as Timbers defenders were scrambling more to stop goal-scoring chances.
That was when Adam Johnson, Manchester City’s English star in waiting, really started to show his class. He attacked from all places on the pitch with pace and skill, repeatedly getting into dangerous scoring positions.
In the 43rd minute, Johnson helped City break through, dancing down the right sideline to the endline, then whipping in a cross that Ireland redirected to far corner, opening the scoring for City.
Only a minute later, Johnson again tormented the Timbers defense, tearing down the right sideline finding a streaking Adebayor in the middle. The Togolese star headed strongly at Portland keeper Steve Cronin, who could only deflect the ball, but not enough to prevent City from going up 2-0.
After halftime, both clubs took full advantage of the liberal substitution rules, putting out almost entirely different lineups. With fresh players, the second half started out slowly as they tried to get up to game speed, but the game ended up being played in a lower gear the entire second frame with fewer scoring opportunities and a much slower pace.
City’s Brazilian striker, Jô, put his name on the scoresheet with a goal in the 68th minute, making up for a blown opportunity earlier in the half.
Portland return to USSF D2 league play on Thursday at fellow 2011 MLS entrants Vancouver, while Man City head East to participate in the New York Football Challenge, where they’ll face Sporting Lisbon on Friday and Thierry Henry’s Red Bulls next Sunday.