The biggest signing in Portland Timbers history made his mark in his highly-anticipated debut Wednesday night.
Forward Brian Fernandez got on the end of a long pass from Sebastian Blanco in the 77th minute and calmly placed a shot into the back of net to lead the Timbers (3-6-2, 11 points) to a 1-1 comeback draw with the Houston Dynamo (6-2-2, 20 points) at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston, Texas.
“He was a threat as soon as he jumped into the field,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese told Root Sports. “He told me he was going to score and he did. It was great, but it wasn’t only him. I think the entire group fought to make sure he came into a game where we were playing well.”
Fernandez joined the Timbers last week after Portland paid a club-record transfer fee to acquire the talented 24-year-old striker from Liga MX side Necaxa. Fernandez, who finished second in goals scored in the 2019 Liga MX Clausura campaign, didn’t waste any time getting his name on the scoresheet with his new club.
Just 12 minutes after entering the game for Andy Polo in the 65th minute Wednesday, Fernandez scored the equalizer to lead the Timbers to a big point on the road. The Dynamo were 5-0-1 at home heading into Wednesday’s game.
Portland had to overcome a one-goal deficit after conceding the first goal of the night in the 40th minute. After going toe-to-toe with the Dynamo for the majority of the first half, the Timbers let things get away from them in the final minutes before halftime.
Houston midfielder Memo Rodriguez sent a corner kick into the box in the 40th minute for Albert Elis, who headed the ball toward striker Mauro Manotas. Manotas, who was left wide open by Jorge Moreira, easily headed the ball into the net to give the Dynamo a 1-0 lead. Manotas has scored seven goals in seven career appearances against Portland.
“We said we needed to do a little bit better in the second half,” Savarese said. “I thought the second half we came with a lot of energy. We battled very well. Then the game became a little bit open, but our guys fought through the entire second half.”
Along with conceding the goal, the Timbers lost a key player to injury in the first half. Cristhian Paredes went down with a non-contact injury and had to leave the game in the 33rd minute.
Portland was also forced to play Wednesday without Diego Chara, who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. The Timbers have not won in 24 games without Chara, dating back to July 2015. Renzo Zambrano made his Timbers debut in place of Chara.
Along with replacing Chara, Savarese made four other lineup changes Wednesday with Portland playing Houston on short rest following a game against the Vancouver Whitecaps last Friday.
But the personnel change that made all the difference didn’t come until the second half when Fernandez strode onto the field for the first time in a Timbers uniform.
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Source:: Daily times