Photo courtesy Diego Diaz / Portland Timbers 2
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers 2 took a 3-2 victory against Arizona United SC on Saturday night at Merlo Field, but were eliminated from contention from the 2016 USL Cup Playoffs after being overtaken on goal differential by Orange County Blues FC on the final Saturday of the regular season. Arizona took the lead in the 21st minute when Luke Rooney fired home a finish from distance, but from then Bijev took over the rest of the first half. The reigning USL Player of the Week first set up Augustine Williams for a finish from the right side of the penalty area in the 27th minute for the equalizer, and then gave T2 the lead 10 minutes before halftime with a run in from the left and low shot to the right corner. Bijev added his second of the game in the final minute before the break as his shot from 20 yards found the left corner of the net. Arizona pulled a goal back through a free kick by Chris Cortez with 18 minutes to go, however, and that goal proved key in the end as Orange County rallied to take a big victory against Colorado Springs to jump past T2 and into the postseason.
21’ – AZ – Luke Rooney
27’ – POR – Augustine Williams (Villyan Bijev)
35’ – POR – Villyan Bijev
45’ – POR – Villyan Bijev
72’ – AZ – Chris Cortez
Three Things That Matter:
1. It was so near, and yet so far for the Portland Timbers 2 as they ended the season with a five-game winning streak to move to the verge of the playoffs, but a late conceded goal, and a flurry of finishes by Orange County Blues FC against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to take a 4-0 win to close the season, saw T2 be eliminated from playoff contention in very cruel fashion.
2. T2 has seen a number of players chip into its five-game winning streak to close the season, but none has been bigger than Villyan Bijev. Coming off being voted the USL Player of the Week this past Tuesday after Portland two wins last week, the rookie forward had two goals and an assist to lead the side into the lead after United had scored first. While the late rally by Orange County sent the T2 out of the playoffs at the death, there is a lot for Portland to be proud of as they look to build toward the 2017 season.
3. As well as Bijev played, Portland again exposed the defensive frailties that have hurt Arizona this season down the stretch. Arizona had been one of the better defensive sides in the league through the middle of August, but over the team’s last eight games of the season it conceded 17 goals, and recorded no shutouts. Adddressing that will likely be at the top of Coach Frank Yallop’s to-do list this offseason.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Villyan Bijev, Portland Timbers 2 – Bijev scored twice and added an assist to lead his side to a fifth consecutive victory to close the season for T2.
Portland Timbers 2 – End of Season
Arizona United SC – End of Season