The main event of Portland's preseason schedule just got a little bit bigger. Six feet, one inch and 164 goals, to be exact.
Prized offseason signing Kris Boyd (above) will make his Timbers debut at 5 p.m. tonight against Swedish first-division side AIK after training this week with both teammates and what I imagine to be a team of white-labcoat-sporting Nike scientists.
With the regular season opener eight days away, the Timbers are still unbeaten in the preseason, earning back-to-back draws with MLS Western Conference foes San Jose and Chivas USA so far in this tourney. AIK, meanwhile, has kept a clean sheet during their Rose City romp, with a 2-0 win over the Goats and scoreless draw with San Jose.
It's a picture-perfect evening in Portland, and I can't think of a better way to spend it than clicking past the jump and joining me as I deftly describe all the action, on and off the pitch.
Lineups have been announced, and Boyd received by far the biggest cheer. No surprise there. Darlington Nagbe not in the 18 tonight.
Both the Swedish and US national anthem were played during pregame festivities, and I can report that they're serving Swedish meatballs in the press box. I'll let you know at halftime how they stack up against IKEA's.
AIK—Ivan Turina in goal. Niklas Backman, Per Karlsson, Helgi Danielsson and Nils-Eric Johansson on defense. Daniel Gustavsson, Daniel Tjernstrom Robert Ahman Persson and Martin Lorentzson at midfield. Viktor Lundberg and Robin Quaison at forward. Tjernstrom is the captain and the Swedes are wearing their black blouses and (hideous) yellow-striped socks.
Portland—Troy Perkins in goal. Lovel Palmer, Hanyer Mosquera, Eric Brunner and Mike Chabala on defense. Kalif Alhassan, Diego Chará, Jack Jewsbury and Rodney Wallace at midfield. Jorge Perlaza and Kris Boyd up front. Jewsbury is the captain and the Timbers are sporting their Rose City Red kits.
And away we go ...
1st minute—Timbers with a giveaway at the start and AIK is the aggressor early.
2nd—Timbers get a throw deep in AIK's end, but Alhassan loses it while dancing along the goal line.
3rd—Boyd's first touch is a header, but he's offside. So yeah, technically, he's still without a touch.
4th—AIK really controlling things here early. Quaison fires a shot from distance, but it's well over the bar.
5th—Portland earns a free kick about 40 yards out after Palmer is tripped up.
6th—Jewsbury sends it to the back post, but it's over the goal line before Wallace can get to it.
7th—TIMBERS GOAL and it's Boyd! The Scottish Premiere League's all-time leading scorer heads one in, re-directing a Perlaza cross. The crowd goes insane, and Boyd has a huge grin on his face. He was brought here to score goals, and seven minutes into his Timbers career, Boyd does just that. Portland leads 1-0. Wow.
9th—AIK really pressing the Portland defense, apparently unimpressed by Boyd's fast start. Mosquera with a nice clearance right in front of the goal, but some shaky moments for the Timbers.
10th—AIK has a free kick coming from five yards outside the corner of the box. Dangerous spot. Persson drives it into the box, and it's cleared over the line for an AIK corner.
11th—Corner comes in and Brunner takes a shot to the face. Foul called and it's the Timbers ball.
12th—An intense moment in the AIK box as Alhassan dances through the defense and tries to center, but AIK clears. Very entertaining stuff here early.
13th—Alhassan tries to find Boyd up the middle, but it's a bit long.
14th—Chará does well to knock it ahead to Perlaza, but Jorge is offside as he gathers it in.
15th—AIK countering and Chará is fouled for a Timbers free kick. Chabala finds Wallace streaking down the east side, and Rodney crosses it into Perlaza. He gets a head on it, but it's wide.
17th—Chará finds Wallace down the east side, and Rodney again with a strong cross, looking for Boyd. An AIK defender collides with Turina and the AIK keeper has his gloves off, testing his left wrist a bit. Timbers doing well on the counter, but AIK looking a bit more crisp.
18th—Jewsbury with a hard tackle to give AIK a free kick from 40 yards out, just right of dead-center.
19th—AIK tries to drive it through the wall, but Brunner rejects it. Timbers will have a free kick in their own end after a foul is called away from the ball.
20th—Boyd flicks on a header to Perlaza, who earns Portland its first corner kick. Jewsbury plays it short to Alhassan, who knocks it off a defender to give the Timbers a throw in their own end. Nothing comes of that, but Timbers maintain possession.
22nd—Jewsbury with a hard tackle at midfield, and that'll earn him a yellow card.
23rd—Backman sends it in and Persson gets a header, but Perkins is there to grab it.
24th—Things are getting chippy as Jewsbury is fouled hard.
25th—Chará with a steal at midfield and finds Alhassan. He takes the ball into the box and back out, and Jewsbury tries to chip one in but it's deflected. Chabala runs it down and attempts a cross, but it's over the goal line for an AIK goal kick.
28th—Chará finds Perlaza streaking up the middle and Jorge lets one loose. He goes to the near post, but it's just right of frame.
31st—Timbers earn another corner and Jewsbury sends it to the back post. Brunner gets a header on it, but AIK's defense is on it.
32nd—Perkins boots a goal kick to Boyd, who heads it forward to an offside Perlaza.
33rd—AIK plays a long ball for Gustavvson, but Brunner is there to head it away. Quaison lines one up from the top of the box, but it's easy pickings for Perkins. Timbers counter and Chabala centers it for Perlaza, but Turina is there to cut it off.
34th—More nice defense from Brunner bails out Mosquera, whose poor pass and missed tackle allows Lundberg to get free and fire a shot.
35th—AIK corner comes in and Mosquera just gets a touch on it to knock it over a closing AIK player. Another corner and it's the same result, but this time Boyd just gets enough of it to send it out of trouble.
38th—Alhassan sends a cross into Perlaza, who can't get to it. AIK attempts to clear, but Chará short-hops it and fires a shot over the goal. A good chance there for Portland on the counter.
39th—Chará fully in beast mode as he runs over a couple of AIK players. The second one is a foul and AIK lines up a free kick from 35 yards out. It's sent in and Perkins pops it up over the net for the save and an AIK corner.
40th—AIK swings the corner kick in, and Perkins is the first one to it.
42nd—Wallace crosses for Boyd, who looks for a carbon-copy of his first goal. Turina is there this time, however and AIK clears. Timbers get it right back and will have a throw near midfield.
43rd—AIK tries to free Lundberg up the east side, but he's way offside.
44th—Mosquera sends a pass in from midfield, but it's way long. Wallace sends one in for Boyd, but he can't collect the high-bouncer and AIK clears.
HALFTIME: Portland leads 1-0 after Kris Boyd endeared himself to Timbers Army with a seventh-minute goal. AIK was the aggressor at times, but after 45 minutes things evened out quite a bit. Definitely a regular-season type feel to the intensity of the first half, with some nice moments for Boyd (obviously) and a nice defensive effort from Brunner especially.
Some first-half stats: Each time managed five shots a piece, two on goal. AIK won the corner kick battle with five, while Portland had two. AIK had seven fouls to Portland's four.
I'm sad to report that by the time I got to the press area grub, the Swedish meatballs were long gone. They must've been delicious.
Boyd is the last one out of the locker room at half, and he's taking the pitch with the rest of his 'mates. We'll see how long he stays out there, being that he's not quite fit for 90 minutes of play according to coach John Spencer.
And we're back at it ...
46th—AIK earns an immediate corner kick. It's sent in and Chabala is there to head it away.
49th—Chará continuing his aggressive play. He pokes one away from an AIK player and Portland will have a throw at midfield.
51st—A fairly pedestrian start to this second half. Both teams seemingly feeling each other out and Portland looks content to bide their time on the back line. Just when I say that, Tjernstrom fires one from 30 yards out and Perkins goes to the ground to knock it away. First real test of the night for the Timbers' keeper.
52nd—Boyd hustles back from his spot to run down a loose ball. It goes ahead to Chará, but an AIK defender knocks it away for a Portland throw. Ball goes into the box for Perlaza, who chests it down. But his first touch is a bit strong and AIK clears it out.
55th—Chará's aggression nearly pays off as his steal sets up another Boyd chance. He pokes it on-goal, but Turina is there to knock it away for a Portland corner. Jewsbury sends it in and Brunner goes up for it, but can't connect. Danielsson goes down in the box and the trainers are coming out. It looks like a cut on the back of his head, as trainers usher him off.
58th—Boyd with his longest run of the night and passes it into the box for Perlaza. He sends it to Chará, whose cross is long. But Alhassan gets to it and makes a couple of moves to get into the box. He's knocked to the turf as he closes in on goal, but there's no call. Fans don't like it, and neither does Kalif.
59th—AIK on the counter and Gustavsson with some space fires a shot from the top of the box. It's high, but a good opportunity for the Swedes to equalize there.
62nd—Wallace fires one from 25 yards out and Turina dives to his right for the save. Timbers will have a throw in AIK's end.
63rd—Another throw for Portland, but on the opposite side of AIK's half. Brunner sends one in from midfield toward Boyd, but it's long.
65th—Both teams are settling in a bit as the pace slows. Not for Alhassan, though, who dances around a pair of defenders at midfield.
66th—Timbers on a counter and Alhassan is taken down just outside the box. It's a yellow card for Johansson, and a free kick from a dangerous spot for Portland.
67th—Jewsbury fakes his service and Alhassan pokes it to Boyd, who strikes it left-footed. It's deflected out and Portland earns a corner kick.
68th—Jewsbury sends the corner in, but nothing doing. Palmer with a chance to cross, but it's way high.
70th—Some risky footwork from Perkins, who has to dribble around two AIK defenders before getting it to Brunner just outside the box.
71st—Gustavsson crosses to Karikari, who gets a free header on it. It's just wide, but a good chance for AIK there. AIK attacks again and Atakora with a nice run. Timbers surround him and Jewsbury goes down in the box holding his face.
72nd—Jewsbury back on his feet, and it looks like Dike's warming up to sub in for Boyd.
73rd—Perlaza looks to cross for Boyd, but it's deflected out for a Timbers throw. AIK takes over possession.
74th—Alhassan does well to get a steal in the box, but a poor attempt at a clearance sets up a Gustavsson blast from the corner of the box. It's high, but Perkins lets Kalif know about it.
75th—Dike is on for Boyd, who gets a big ovation as he jogs off the pitch.
76th—Dike makes his presence known quickly, firing a cross into the six-yard box. But Turina is there. Timbers get a free kick in their own end when Chará is knocked over.
77th—AIK really picking it up here. Timbers playing back a bit more.
79th—James Marcelin entering for Chará, who was outstanding, particularly in the first half.
80th—Pass ahead could've been taken by either Dike or Perlaza, but neither chases it down. Miscommunication? On the other end, Atakora cracks one from 20 yards out, but right at Perkins. Timbers having issues with possession, trying to weather the storm a bit.
81st—Gustavsson tries a cross that Chabala knocks over the goal line. Corner kick leads to a Lundberg shot that gets through the defense, but it's left of frame.
82nd—Alhassan crosses from the right corner from Dike, who heads it on-frame. But Turina is there to knock it away. Perlaza on the rebound with a shot, but it's over the goal. Portland's best chance of the second half would've put this one on ice.
85th—Chabala finds Perlaza just outside the box, and Jorge is tripped up. It'll be a yellow for Lorentzen. Free kick coming from the left edge of the box and Jewsbury is standing over it. Timbers Army going bonkers waiting for the whistle.
87th—Jewsbury drives it in, but it's defended by AIK and cleared.
88th—Timbers taking some time off the clock in AIK's end.
90th—AIK with a free kick just inside Portland's half. A poor service is cleared by Portland. Turina comes waaaaay out of his box to beat Perlaza to the ball and he boots it out. Portland free kick goes to midfield and Wallace is called for a foul. Chabala does a little delay-of-game clearance and gets a yellow card.
Two minutes of stoppage...Timbers with some nice one-touch passes as AIK give chase. Chabala finds Dike streaking up the side and Bright is knocked to the turf just outside the left corner of the box. Free kicking coming and Portland walks it toward the corner to drain precious time off the clock. Ref really letting a lot of time tick off here, and the fans are booing loudly enough to drown out the three whistles.
FULL TIME—Portland wins 1-0 on a Kris Boyd goal—talk about a debut. A highly entertaining match leads to a Timbers victory in their final preseason tune-up. Portland remains undefeated in preseason play in its MLS history and nabs a bit of momentum heading into when it counts.
Some final stats: Attendance was 17,357, the biggest of the preseason tourney. AIK out-shot Portland 12-11, but the Timbers had five shots on goal to AIK's four. The physical Swedes out-fouled Portland 12-9 and managed seven corner kicks to Portland's four. Four saves each tonight from Troy Perkins and Ivan Turnia.
But the night belonged to the newcomer Boyd. He said his first goal as a Timber was nice, but the most important thing was to get in 75 minutes of play and inch his fitness level toward full-match-ready.
"It may take a few weeks to get up to field speed, but I felt good tonight," Boyd said, noting that he had some nerves before the game. "It doesn't matter even if you're the best player in the world, I think. There's always butterflies, you're always a bit nervous at first. But I think getting a goal early settled us down and as I say, I enjoyed the night."
He also enjoyed the Timbers' traditional round-raising ceremony, though he admitted the whole thing was "a bit strange at first."
"I hope I get used to it with a few more between now and the end of the season," Boyd said. "It was something, that's for sure."
As was coach John Spencer's post-match presser: