The Portland Timbers played their first match as a Major League Soccer side Friday night and needed an equalizing goal from its rookie star to avoid defeat against one of So Cal's best amateur teams.
Darlington Nagbe, the No. 2 overall pick (from the University of Akron, naturally) in last month's MLS draft, scored at the start of the second half to give the Timbers a 1-1 draw with the Ventura County Fusion in front of 1,400 at Ventura College.
Portland, training in Oxnard for eight days while preparing for its MLS debut next month, will face the Galaxy in a scrimmage Tuesday at Home Depot Center.
Nagbe, a Liberian-born forward considered the big can't-miss star of this year's class, headed home Colombian forward Jorge Perlaza's cross in the 46th minute. The Fusion, who won the Premier Development League title in 2009 and the semipro/amateur league's Southwest Division crown last year, went ahead in the 17th minute on Ecuadoran forward Eder Vaca's deflected shot following El Salvador national-teamer Andres Flores' 30-yard run on a counterattack.
“It was our first game, and we have a lot of positives to take from it and build from,” Timbers coach John Spencer said on the club's Web site. “At this time of the season, it is just about fitness levels. That is what these games are about; you can only do so much in practice. It was a good game, and the Fusion battled for 90 minutes as well.”
Former Galaxy winger Quavas Kirk, who is on trial with Portland, departed late in the game with a hamstring injury. Rodrigo Lopez, who joined the Timbers after leading the Fusion to their PDL championship, played the second half for Portland.
First half: Troy Perkins; Eric Brunner, Steve Purdy, Alo Bärengrub, Josh Cameron; Kalif Alhassan, Jeremy Hall, James Marcelin, Ryan Pore; Bright Dike (Darlington Nagbe, 20), Brian Umony.
Second half: Jake Gleeson; Mamadou Danso, Chris Taylor, David Horst, Quavas Kirk (Robby Lynch, 83); Freddie Braun, Darlington Nagbe, Peter Lowry, Rodrigo Lopez; Doug DeMartin, Jorge Perlaza.