Friday, November 13, 2015
T2 got off to a roaring start with three wins in their first six games, but as the season wore on defensive issues began to take a toll as more often than not the side found itself playing from behind. In the standings, the side kept itself afloat in playoff contention until the final month of the season, when three consecutive defeats saw it drop off the pace.
Some standout individual performances, including one that drew an end-of-season honor, meant that Portland’s return to the USL was a fruitful one, though, and Jay Vidovich’s side will have learned a lot as it prepares for 2016.
- RELATED: In Their Words: T2 Players Reflect On 2015 Season
2015 USL Season in Review:
Place: 8th in the Western Conference
Goals For: 38
Goals Against: 45
2015 leaders: Kharlton Belmar (12 goals), Kharlton Belmar, Rundell Winchester, Blair Gavin, Andy Thoma (3 assists), Jake Gleeson (77 saves, 3 shutouts)
Greatest moment of 2015: T2’s opening week of the season was a memorable one, as Kharlton Belmar scored the first goal in club history as part of a two-goal game to lead the side to a 3-1 victory against Real Monarchs SLC, and Steven Evans struck late to earn a dramatic 2-1 win against Sacramento Republic FC five days later. The win against former partner Sacramento was particularly sweet, with Evans coming back to haunt the side he had spent time on loan with in 2014 with a fierce curling shot in the 87th minute.
Lowest moment of 2015: Portland had worked its way into the playoff picture with consecutive victories against Vancouver and the Tulsa side it was chasing for the sixth and final playoff berth. That good work came undone against the eventual top dog in the Western Conference’s regular season standings Orange County Blues FC, as an early goal by Chris Cortez sent the hosts on their way to a 3-1 victory that saw Fatawu Safiu’s late penalty kick offer nothing but consolation to T2. Back-to-back defeats followed at home to Colorado Springs and Sacramento, eliminating Portland from playoff contention before its season finale.
What went right? Portland was a very exciting team to watch, with Kharlton Belmar at the forefront. The 2015 USL Rookie of the Year had 12 goals and three assists to also earned All-League Second Team honors as he made a great transition from the Timbers U-23s in the PDL in 2014. Add in the marauding forward runs by midfielder Fatawu Safiu, who added seven goals, and T2 were a platform for both players to get a chance with the club’s MLS side sooner rather than later.
- RELATED: Belmar Thrilled By Rookie Experience With T2
What went wrong? T2 were by no means the poorest side defensively in the USL, but for much of the season the side did allow a steady stream of goals both in victories and defeats. T2 recorded only four shutouts in 28 games, tied for second-fewest in the league as lapses often resulted in good scoring chances for opponents. Many of those occurred in the first halves of games, where T2 were outscored 23-14, leaving the side often having to chase the game to get a positive result.He said it: “Just this year, we’ve seen how the whole thing is going to work. There’s been times where academy players have come in and trained with us, U-23 players came in and trained with us, and sometimes we go up and train with the first team. It’s all become more and more fluid, and it’s been great. The whole thing is coming together, and it’s just been a great experience.” – Kharlton Belmar, Portland Timbers 2