By RYAN TOLMICH
Despite a long-distance midweek trip and less-than-stellar playing conditions, the Portland Timbers opened their CONCACAF Champions League campaign on a positive note.
With head coach Caleb Porter opting for a more subdued lineup in preparation for this weekend’s tilt against the Seattle Sounders, the Timbers coasted in a 4-1 victory over Alpha United in Guyana via goals from Steve Zakuani, Maximiliano Urruti, Fanendo Adi and Alvas Powell.
Although Saturday’s game was played on a surface more conducive to cricket than soccer, the Timbers were as explosive as ever on offense, despite only four holdovers from Saturday’s draw with the New England Revolution.
Zakuani netted the go-ahead goal in the 18th minute on a pass from winger Khalif Alhassan, as the 26-year-old Zakuani outran the Alpha United defense off a turnover in midfield.
Alhassan’s pass found the Congolese winger down the left side, allowing Zakuani to finish from just inside the Alpha United box.
Alhassan notched a second assist just 16 minutes later, finding Maximiliano Urruti for what would end up being the game-winner.
The Argentine received the ball from Alhassan near the top of the box and took a few touches towards goal before firing past Alpha United goalkeeper Ronson Williams to push the score to 2-0.
The hosts pulled one back just before halftime, with Alpha’s Barbosa Murillo curling in a free kick past Timbers goalkeeper Andrew Weber to close the gap to one heading into halftime break.
The Timbers restored the two goal advantage 20 minutes into the second half, as Fanendo Adi made it 3-1 through a back heel finish.
The visitors added a fourth in the 83rd minute through Alvas Powell, who took full advantage of a loose rebound in the box to close out the night’s scoring.
The Timbers now face a short turnaround heading into their next contest, as the team will return home to Providence Park for a Sunday clash with the rival Seattle Sounders.
Check out the highlights from Tuesday’s action below: