Timbers say they'll benefit from game against high-caliber Dutch side
- Stephen Alexander
- Portland Tribune - Sports
Portland Timbers midfielder Ryan Pore is building up an impressive resume of teams he can years from now tell people he played against.
Last year, with the Division-2 Timbers, Pore took the pitch against Manchester City of the English Premier League. And after Wednesday night, he can add Dutch club AFC Ajax to the list.
Pore said that while Manchester City had more recognizable players, the quality of the EPL side and the Dutch squad - which beat the Timbers 2-0 at Jeld-Wen Field - was similar.
'With Man City, they have a ton of money, so they have some of the biggest players in the world that people have heard of,' Pore said. 'Ajax is maybe not as rich, but they're just as prestigious. Maybe more prestigious. They've won more tittles. You don't know many of the players, but obviously they're top quality and they're there for a reason. On the recognition part, it was fun to play Man City, but the level was just about the same.'
Even considering the high caliber of the opposing players, Pore said he does not get star struck.
'When you're at this level, really nothing surprises you,' he said. 'We have some good players on this team. Obviously, they're playing over at Ajax for a reason, because they're top-quality players. It's fun to go out and compete against the best players.
'But I don't think you can have the mentality where you step back and you're kind of in awe of them. Because if you do that, you then you lose a little bit of a step in the game. So you've got to continue to go at them and play like you would against any other player.'
• Possibly no one on the Timbers enjoyed stepping onto the field against Ajax more than midfielder Peter Lowry.
'It's a team I grew up studying how they play,' Lowry said. 'I joked with a couple of coaches that I think I have a Dutch father and he always wanted me to play like that. It's a hell of a team. They pass the ball so well, they move off each other. Their quality showed through tonight."
In 62 minutes of action, Lowry played as well as any Timber. In the 58th minute, with Ajax leading 1-0, he nearly scored the equalizer, playing a rebound off a shot by Eddie Johnson that hit the cross bar. Ajax goalkeeper Jeroem Verhoeven made a fantastic kick save on Lowry's 8-yard attempt.
Lowry said he hopes to use the friendly match to improve himself and the Timbers.
'It's a great opportunity now to look back and see what you can do better,' he says. 'At times, we did create some chances. Obviously they had the majority of the play and dominated the game. It's a good test. There's a lot to be learned from it.'
•• Several Timbers won't be able to tell their grandchildren that they played against the historic Dutch side. The list of regular Portland starters who sat out the exhibition includes Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Jorge Perlaza and Darlington Nagbe.
Timbers coach John Spencer admitted that the players he sat probably would have liked to step onto the pitch against Ajax.
'There were a couple of guys who would've loved to play,' Spencer said. 'I would've loved to play tonight, but I can't. Jack's been struggling a little bit with a groin. Jorge took a lot of beating last weekend. Diego is another one who has been struggling with a lot of injuries. You can't take chances."
Spencer indicated that when it comes to deciding who plays in friendly matches, the Timbers are a dictatorship.
'Once you let the tail wag the dog, you've got problems,' he said.
Spencer chose to sit players in a way he felt would give Portland the best chance of winning its next MLS match, 2 p.m. Sunday at home against D.C. United.
'We've got games coming up,' Spencer said. 'If I play guys and they pull a groin or a hamstring and we don't win over the weekend, a lot of people are going to be very unhappy with me. And I'm here to try to make people happy, not to make them unhappy. If we win over the weekend and get three points, we'll be in great shape.'
••• Spencer's strategy did provide some much-needed game experience for Portland goalkeeper Adin Brown.
'It's important to get these games where there's a huge atmosphere and games where you're seeing a lot of the ball,' Brown said. 'It's good for all us guys who haven't gotten minutes in a while. It's important to stay game-sharp and ready if the team calls upon us.'
Brown, who will turn 33 on Friday, began the season as the Timbers' starting goalkeeper, after Troy Perkins went down with a knee injury.
But Brown was forced out of the lineup when he injured his hamstring in the second match of the season. He continues to heal.
'My body is feeling pretty well,' Brown said. 'Been training the last couple of weeks. I got the game against the Seattle reserves. I felt okay. Didn't feel 100 percent.'
Brown admitted that it has been difficult to keep up his spirits while sitting on the bench at such a late point in his career.
'Of course,' he said. 'Everybody is in this game to play. And it's difficult. But all you can do is put everything you have onto the field and the training field and keep pushing for that spot. And hopefully you get an opportunity here and there and just hope you're ready for it.'
The 6-5, 230-pound keeper played with Norway's Aalesund FK from 2005-09 before missing two years because of a bad Achilles' heel and bone spurs. Brown said he still feels that he can help the Timbers in the goal box.
'Before my injury, I was on the top of my game,' he said. 'I did extremely well in Norway. I was a finalist for the MVP in the first division. I have a big presence back there, and I have a lot to offer.'
Brown is not ready to wallow in self-pity, though.
'You just keep working,' he said. 'Wome days are better than others. But that's the nature of the game."