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T2 Limits Monarchs to Draw

By USLSoccer.com Staff, 09/10/17, 12:22AM EDT

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Portland holds off first-place SLC at home


Photo courtesy Sam Ortega / Portland Timbers 2

PORTLAND, Ore. –Despite entering the match on opposite ends of the spectrum in the USL Western Conference, Portland Timbers 2 and Real Monarchs SLC ended on level terms at Providence Park on Saturday, playing to a 0-0 draw. The total of 25 combined shots posted by the two squads belied the nature of what was a defensive battle for most of the 90 minutes. The best opportunity of the opening period came courtesy of the first-place Monarchs in the 31st minute when a throw-in in the attacking half quickly turned into an opportunity for Daniel Haber around the six-yard box but the Canadian was unable to convert as an alert intervention from T2 keeper Wade Hamilton quelled the danger. Portland managed just two shots on goal in the contest but came closest to moving in front in the 51st minute when Monarchs’ keeper Connor Sparrow was forced way out of his area to deny a potential breakaway, only to see Gio Calixtro get the chance to fire at the gaping net from long distance. Calixtro’s effort sailed wide of the left post. Hamilton was tested by a Haber header and an effort off the foot of Daniel Cruz just before the 70-minute mark but was up to the challenge both times as neither side was able to find a breakthrough. Portland moved to 2-18-6 (12pts) overall and 1-11-3 at home with its third consecutive draw while Real Monarchs SLC now stands at 17-4-5 (56pts) overall and 6-3-4 on the road.   

Scoring:
None

Three Things That Matter:

  • 1. The Monarchs became the first side to clinch a spot in the playoffs last week despite seeing San Antonio FC snatch victory with two late goals but have now gone consecutive games without a victory for the third time this season, two of which have come in seven matches since the final day of July. Offensive inconsistency has contributed to the lull as Mark Briggs’ side has now been kept off the scoresheet three times during the stretch.
     
  • 2. Portland failed to mount a significant challenge to his goal for most of the night but Sparrow continued to be a bright spot for SLC in his second season with the club. The Creighton product entered the match among the top contenders for the USL Golden Glove award – ranking inside the top five in the league in goals-against average – and now owns six clean sheets to this point in the year. Sparrow’s emergence mitigates the impact of the departure of Lalo Fernandez, who joined Tigres UANL of Liga MX earlier in the week after making 50 appearances for the club over three seasons.
     
  • 3. Though mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, a young T2 side has found its form late in the year. With its third consecutive draw, Portland has now earned at least a point in three straight matches for the first time since winning its final five games of the 2016 season. The Timbers 2 have allowed just two goals in those three outings and became just the third different team to record a clean sheet against the Monarchs this season in spite of a home ledger that has seen them post a -15 goal differential.
     

USLSoccer.com Man of the Match

Renzo Zambrano, Portland Timbers 2 – With the ball bogged down in midfield for much of the game, Zambrano helped set the tone for T2 against the Western Conference heavyweights, finishing with five tackles, two shots and completing 38 passes 

Upcoming Games:
Portland Timbers 2 at Reno 1868 FC – September 23, 10 p.m. ET, Greater Nevada Field
Real Monarchs SLC at Phoenix Rising FC – September 16, 10:30 p.m. ET, Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex

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