PORTLAND, OREGON – MLS All-Star Week's on-field action got underway Monday as the league's top Homegrown products took on Portland Timbers’ U-23s in the inaugural Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game, which featured plenty of action but no score as the two sides played to a scoreless draw on a steamy evening at Providence Park.
The showcase of young talent featured players such as Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Russell Teibert, who shined during his first half appearance and was arguably the best player on the field in his 45 minutes of action. The match also featured MLS Rookie of the Year contender Harry Shipp of Chicago Fire, as well as Dillon Serna of Colorado Rapids. The opposition came in the form of a number of future and current college stars such as Akron-bound Jesse Garcia, from nearby Hillsboro, Boston College goalkeeper Justin Luthy and University of San Francisco’s Miguel Aguilar.
It appeared to be a first half for getting to know one another.
The MLS Homegrowns, having had just one training session together earlier in the day, favoured more of a direct approach with Teibert running the show.
He tried to pick out Chivas USA’s Caleb Calvert on several runs down the left flank, but the two never quite made the connection.
Teibert had a go from distance with a fading left-footed shot in the 15th minute that required a nice reaction from Luthy. And in the 44th minute, Toronto FC defender Ashtone Morgan made a deep run down the left flank and sent in a dangerous cross that was cut out nicely by the diving 'keeper.
Portland, also playing with a somewhat pieced together roster featuring an array of Academy players with their Premier Development League season having already come to an end, had most of the run of play in the first half.
University of Washington’s James Moberg had his right-footed blast draw woodwork following a nice run and cross on the left flank by Matt Rose. Michigan State’s Fatai Alashe went unmarked on a 38th-minute corner, but his header flew wide.
The action quickened in the second half.
In the 56th minute, San Jose Earthquakes striker Tommy Thompson maneuvered into space for open shot on the edge of the penalty area that required a diving save by Luthy.
In the 60th minute, a diving header by Wake Forest midfielder Jacori Hayes was off the mark. The Timbers stayed on the gas pedal for the remainder of the half as Aguilar hit a shot that rolled just wide and Hayes and Washington’s Cristian Roldan each had quality shots cleaned up on diving saves by second-half substitute goalkeeper Jon Kempin, a Sporting Kansas City product.
In stoppage time, Hayes made a last-ditch effort for a goal with a shot form the edge of the area, but it sailed high and the game ended scoreless.