By FRANCO PANIZO
PORTLAND, Ore. — There were chances aplenty, but the final bit of quality needed to put them away was nowhere to be found.
The MLS Homegrown team and Portland Timbers Under-23 squad misfired their ways to a goal-less draw in the inaugural MLS Homegrown Game at Providence Park on Monday night. Each team took 13 shots in the match, but neither was able to capitalize despite having some decent looks in good positions.
The Timbers came closest to finding the opener early in a match that expectedly lacked some sharpness given players’ unfamiliarity with one another. James Moberg found himself with some space in the penalty area in the ninth minute, only to see his hard effort carom off the near post.
San Jose Earthquakes player Tommy Thompson also had one of the game’s best looks in the 87th minute, but the MLS Homegrown substitute sent a buzzing effort over the crossbar from the top of the penalty area.
The failure to finish was contagious. Timbers forward Miguel Aguilar also missed a golden opportunity, pushing a low shot wide of the far post in the 61st minute after Moberg had picked off a poor pass from New York Red Bulls Matt Miazga.
Both goalkeepers did have to make saves in the match that expectedly lacked some sharpness given players’ unfamiliarity with one another.
Homegrown netminder Jon Kempin of Sporting Kansas City entered the game at halftime and made a pair of sure-handed stops during his 45-minute stint en route to being voted the Player of the Game. Portland’s Justin Luthy, meanwhile, did well to deny Thompson in the opening minutes of the second half.
The beginning of the match should have been a sign of things to come. A corner kick that bounced around the penalty area fell to Timbers striker Kharlton Belmar, who somehow sent his shot from 12 yards woefully wide.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ Russell Teibert was active in the early going for the MLS Homegrown team and had a swerving go from distance that Luthy grabbed out of the air confidently.
Teibert also whipped in a corner at the half-hour mark that LA Galaxy attacker Bradford Jamieson IV raced onto and frustratingly nodded outside of the near post.
The Timbers’ squad had another pair of chances a minute apart late in the first half, but Fatai Alsashe flashed a header wide of the frame in the 38th minute before Columbus Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson closed down the angle well on Belmar on a close-range chance from the right side of the penalty area.
What do you think of the inaugural MLS Homegrown Game? Who impressed you? Think it would be better to have the Homegrowns face members of Generation adidas?
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