PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Timbers forward Jeremy Ebobisse had a promising rookie season in 2017, recording one goal and three assists in just 317 minutes. But he hasn’t had the opportunity to build off that campaign this year.
Ebobisse has spent the majority of the season either battling injury or on loan with T2. He has yet to make an appearance for the Timbers first team in MLS play this year as strikers Fanendo Adi and Samuel Armenteros have split playing time in the forward role.
But Ebobisse played a starring role in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup match.
“I was very pleased with the performance all around from everyone that stepped on the field,”Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “They got the job done. We knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Ebobisse scored a tremendous goal as the Timbers beat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-0 in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup in front of 12,769 fans at Providence Park Wednesday.
With the win, the Timbers advance to the U.S. Open Cup Round of 16, which will take place on either June 16, 17 or 20. The Timbers will learn their Round of 16 opponent on Thursday.
This is the second time that Portland has ousted San Jose in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup. The Timbers also beat the Earthquakes 2-0 in the fourth round of the tournament at Providence Park in 2016.
Savarese made the decision to rotate his lineup for Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup match to help his team navigate a stretch of three games in eight days and give some different players, like Ebobisse, much needed minutes.
“These minutes are going to be important for the guys to build confidence, to be able to be ready to contribute to the first team,” Savarese said. “A lot of them are the future. They are the youth of the club and they showed a lot of great things.”
Midfielder Diego Chara, who will be suspended for Saturday’s MLS game against Sporting Kansas City due to yellow card accumulation, and Bill Tuiloma were the only players in Wednesday’s lineup that also started last Saturday against the LA Galaxy. San Jose made a few changes to their lineup as well, but also started some of their top players.
Despite starting a lineup that included two players that were called up from T2 for the game, the Timbers put in a strong and composed performance to coast to the 2-0 victory. Portland finished the game with 586 passes, completing 90 percent of its pass attempts.
“We have quite the depth,” Timbers defender Lawrence Olum said. “Anybody can step in and give a good performance.”
Ebobisse found the opening goal in the 28th minute after stealing the ball from San Jose defender Fatai Alashe and dribbling toward goal. With a defender on his right side, Ebobisse cut the ball back to his left foot and fired a beautiful curving shot into the corner of the net to put the Timbers up 1-0.
The Timbers extended their lead in the 66th minute when Dairon Asprilla got on the end of a pass from Chara on a counter attack. Asprilla then fired a shot from just inside the box into the net to give Portland the 2-0 lead.
Asprilla is another player that has struggled to earn minutes with the first team this season and had a lot to prove Wednesday. He has played just 118 minutes for the first team this year as he has mostly been used off the bench.
“It was very good to see, especially Jeremy and Asprilla, how composed they were to be able to score those goals that were very important for us,” Savarese said.
2018 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)
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