Strong winds and periodic dust flareups choked a preseason match between the Houston Dynamo and the Portland Timbers at Grande Sports World on Saturday, leaving the clubs locked in a scoreless draw before the match ended prematurely due to deteriorating conditions.
The match was whistled to a close in the 82nd minute as both teams failed to find any real offensive flow, battling wind gusts of 50 miles per hour and dust clouds from a nearby field that brought the match to a grinding halt on several occasions.
WATCH: Full match highlights
Despite the difficult conditions, the Dynamo remained unbeaten against MLS competition this preseason (3-0-1) with the draw. They return to action on Feb. 22 against the Seattle Sounders in Orlando, Fla.
The Timbers, meanwhile, played just their third preseason game against an MLS foe and opened up their nine-day stint in Arizona by creating the better scoring chances of the match Saturday.
Forward Ryan Pore had the best opportunity for either team in the 17th minute thanks to a nifty buildup from the Timbers. Darlington Nagbe, No. 2 overall selection in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, carved his way through the Houston defense and laid off a pass to overlapping defender Rodney Wallace, who skipped a pass into the box. Pore ran on to the ball, but his left-footed shot caromed off the post. He was at it again in the 52nd minute on a brief breakaway look, but backup Houston goalkeeper Tyler Deric’s pressure was enough for Pore to skip the shot wide of the far post.
The Dynamo, meanwhile, never seriously threatened to score going against the wind in the first half and with a team of subs forging ahead in the second. Head coach Dominic Kinnear paired veteran Brian Ching with rookie Will Bruin up top before pulling them at the break, but stressed after the match that he is still tinkering with the attacking group and that Saturday’s second line of Jason Garey and Cam Weaver are also options to start as the club’s March 19 opener against the Philadelphia Union looms closer.
Portland head coach John Spencer – who assisted under Kinnear during the Dynamo’s back-to-back MLS Cups in 2006 and 2007– saw the debut of recently acquired forward Kenny Cooper and some solid minutes from Nagbe on the left wing. In fact, Cooper got a solid look at goal in the early going off a cross from right midfielder Jeremy Hall, but his snap header was steered wide by Houston netminder Tally Hall.
Holding midfielder James Marcelin also played well for Portland, but the Timbers lost midfielder Peter Lowry to an apparent thigh injury after a violent collision with Houston’s Alex Dixon in the second half.
Recently acquired midfielder Sal Zizzo made his debut in the second half on the right side for Portland, while Francisco Navas Cobo earned a rare start at right midfielder for Houston.
Portland Timbers vs. Houston Dynamo
February 19, 2011 -- Grande Sports World, Casa Grande AZ
Portland Timbers -- Troy Perkins, Steve Purdy, Eric Brunner, Kevin Goldthwaite, Rodney Wallace, Jeremy Hall (Sal Zizzo 46), James Marcellin, Peter Lowry, Darlington Nagbe (Roberto Ramirez 71), Kenny Cooper (Spencer Thompson 71), Ryan Pore.
Houston Dynamo -- Tally Hall (Tyler Deric 46), Hunter Freeman (Kofi Sarkodie 46), Andrew Hainault (Bobby Boswell 46), Jermaine Taylor (Eddie Robinson 46), Mike Chabala (Jordan Graye 46), Francisco Navas Cobo (Danny Cruz 46), Lovel Palmer (Richard Edwards 46), Geoff Cameron (Alex Dixon 46), Brad Davis (Josue Soto 46), Brian Ching (Cam Weaver 46), Will Bruin (Jason Garey 46).
HOU -- Bobby Boswell (caution) 48
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial