The Portland Timbers won their first 2023 US Open Cup match by a score of 3-1, over Orange County SC this Wednesday night. This was the Timbers’ 36th match in the US Open Cup since 2004. With the victory, Portland is now 20-16-0 in US Open Cup matches. The win also advances Portland to the round of 32, against an opponent that is yet to be determined.
The Timbers played host to Orange County at Providence Park this Wednesday evening. With minimal action at the start of the match, things heated up the closer the game got to halftime. Sebastián Blanco saw roughly 30 minutes of game time, before taking a yellow card in the 30th minute and being substituted shortly after. His substitute, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, had a great game. In the 37th minute, a triangle of passes between Niezgoda, Pablo Bonilla, and Noel Caliskan would set up Niezgoda to move inside from the top of the box. Niezgoda would pass to Marvin Loría at the near side of the penalty arch. Loría’s left-footed shot would catch Orange County goalkeeper Cody Cropper moving too far left to right and would score the opening goal of the game.
The Timbers would hold a 1-0 lead headed into halftime. However, Portland would get the crowd involved early in the second half. In the 48th minute, the Timbers were swarming around the Orange County net. Justin Rasmussen’s chip pass from the goal line would be headed away by an Orange County defender. However, with the rest of Orange County collapsed inside the box, possession returned to the Timbers. Bonilla would take a moment to gather possession, then send another long arching pass towards the far side of the goal. Tyler Clegg would connect on a header to the left side of the net. Clegg’s redirect would have just enough power to fight past the hands of Cropper and hit the back of the net to give the Timbers a 2-0 lead.
Orange County would not go down quietly however. Down two goals, Orange County started to play with a sense of urgency. In the 54th minute, Milan Iloski would get a pass along the sidelines and move towards the Timbers net. Iloski would then find Thomas Amang at the top of the box, setting up a great give-and-go passing play. Amang’s pass left Iloski with enough space to rip a shot off his right foot to the far side of the net, cutting the Timber’s lead in half.
A critical moment of the match came in the 89th minute of regulation play. With Orange County still trailing by one goal, a corner-kick opportunity arose for the visitors. The kick would go towards the far post, and be headed down towards the middle of the net. Off a bounce, a header at the last second from an Orange County forward would push the ball into the back of the net. However, the referees caught Orange County offsides on the play and the game-tying goal would be erased from the scoreboard.
Four minutes of extra time was awarded in the second half. However, Portland was determined to ensure their victory. In the 90th minute, Nathan Fogaça had a shot blocked from just inside the box. The ball would soar into the air, and Cropper would attempt to track the ball down. However, Fogaça’s attempt at a header caused Cropper to mishandle the ball. Niezgoda would be quick to pounce on the play and strike the ball into the empty net, giving the Timbers a 3-1 victory over Orange County.
The Timbers’ next opponent for the US Open Cup will be announced today. Their next regular season game is April 29 at St. Louis City SC at 5:30 p.m.