MLS Focus: Newcomers leave mark during record Portland streak

Goals from a pair of first-year players and the play of a third newcomer inserted into his first MLS game in the fifth minute carried the Portland Timbers past LAFC, 2-1, for their club record fifth straight win.

Swede Samuel Armenteros won the game with his first MLS goal in the 81st minute. Cristhian Paredes, the 19-year-old Paraguayan who has started every game of the Portland winning streak, also had his first MLS goal.

“Not only the two of them," said Portland coach Giovani Savarese, "but everybody -- I think everybody played a great match. The guys that came in -- Armenteros, [Julio] Cascante, [Andres] Flores -- and the guys that were there on the field. Just a great match. Fantastic from everyone. The guys that were on the bench were eager to go in to contribute. That’s what we want from the group and it’s great that Paredes and Armenteros found the goal because they’ve been working very hard for that.”

The Timbers opened with a just two points in their first five games, all on the road as work continued on Providence Park renovations, but they are perfect since then. Four of the wins have come at home, where Portland's 10-winning streak is second all-time in MLS.

Cascante came on when captain Liam Ridgewell had to leave the game with a quad injury.

“It’s always tough because you don’t want any of your players to come out so early in the match," said Savarese. "Credit to Cascante. He came in and did the job. He, right away, fit into this league. He hasn’t played matches and he was great. He adjusted very quickly.”

All three subs -- Cascante, Armenteros and Flores, who came over from the New York Cosmos -- are in their first season in MLS, as are starters Paredes and Andy Polo, who will leave to join Peru's World Cup team.

“They’ve adapted very quickly," said Savarese. "Not only to MLS, but to Portland and the team. They grow every game more and more. They make it more difficult for me because there are other guys that also want to play and they’re doing very well. I think all the guys that have come in have added something special and today we saw that.”

Armenteros, who headed straight into the stands to celebrate with the Portland fans after his left-footed bullet, says the Timbers will only get better.

“Everybody in the beginning had a shaky start," he said, "and it’s totally normal. There were a lot of new faces with the staff and the players, and everyone getting adjusted to their lives around soccer as well. For me, I know how that is traveling to a new country, finding a place to stay and getting everything set up. Now we’re getting to know each other way better, day-by-day. We train hard and want to give the fans and club everything we have. We have a lot of potential, so I feel we’ll only get better from here.”
1 comment about "MLS Focus: Newcomers leave mark during record Portland streak".
  1. humble 1, May 20, 2018 at 9:58 a.m.

    would be more impressed if those were US players that were products of portlands domestic id and dev programs rather than forays abroad.  We need more of the firmer from MLS clubs.

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