PORTLAND, Ore. – More than 15,000 fans attending a preseason game may have surprised a lot of people. But for San Jose coach Frank Yallop, that kind of turnout is exactly why his team is playing in the Portland Tournament at JELD-WEN Field.
“Kind of, yeah,” Yallop said when asked if he expected the type of raucous atmosphere present during his team’s 1-1 tie against the Portland Timbers on Monday night. “I just thought, you know, there’s going to be a big crowd. Anytime Portland play here it’s going to be a big crowd and a good atmosphere. And I think that’s what you want to do; it gets you ready for the start of the season.”
He said his club immediately jumped when asked if they would like to participate in the four-team tournament along with the Timbers, Chivas USA and Swedish side AIK. And Yallop got just the style of game he expected, as well – a physical, chippy and closely contested match.
“That’s the reason we did this tournament,” Yallop said. “They invited us, and we said, ‘Yes, please.’ It gets you game ready. It was tough at the end, we had to dig in and head balls out and fight and so did they. It gets you ready for the year.”
Youngsters get in the mix for the Timbers
Portland’s youngsters also got a taste of what a MLS game at JELD-WEN Field looks and feels like on Monday. With the Timbers playing with a pared down roster thanks to the international team duties of three players and injuries to several others, rookie defenders Ryan Kawulok and Andrew Jean-Baptiste were thrust into action.
Jean-Baptiste, who started along with first-year Colombian defender Hanyer Mosquera at the center back position, fit right in with the game’s physical nature. Kawulok, meanwhile, gamely pushed up from his right back slot, sending in a number of crosses.
“This group, like I said, we’ve got some really talented players, whether they’re rookies or guys who have been around the league for awhile,” midfielder and captain Jack Jewsbury said. “This group, no matter who you throw out there on the field, is confident that they’ll get the job done.”
Waiting on Boyd
The fans at JELD-WEN Field were clamoring to get a look at newly acquired Designated Player Kris Boyd and Cameroon international Franck Songo’o, but they’ll have to wait a while longer.
Portland head coach John Spencer said after the San Jose game that Boyd is unlikely to see time Thursday against Chivas USA on day two of the Portland Tournament as he’s nurses a sore ankle. Songo’o, who is also dealing with an ankle injury of his own, is in Spain ironing out visa issues.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org