PORTLAND, ORE. – Only 32 minutes into his Minnesota United FC playing career, and Johan Venegas had already scored twice.
And after playing only 45 minutes and projecting that kind of goal production into the regular season, the Costa Rican would smash the Major League Soccer single-season goals record by, like, more than 100 goals.
That’s hardly realistic, but those two goals represented United’s only scoring in a 2-2 draw Sunday against the Portland Timbers. And while Minnesota rested most of its starters from Thursday’s game against Vancouver and Portland didn’t sub on many of its starters until later in the second half, it was still a good peek at the atmosphere — an announced 13,461 fans attended this preseason match — to expect in the MLS season opener back at Providence Park on March 3.
Venegas, playing as a striker, owed his first goal largely to winger Kevin Molino. One-time Loons keeper Jeff Attinella blocked Molino’s shot in the 25th, leaving Venegas to head in the rebound at the back post. But the 32nd-minute strike was all Venegas.
“The pleasing part was some of the combination play in the first half — with [Bashkim] Kadrii, with Molino, with Venegas — was outstanding,” United coach Adrian Heath said. “They haven’t played together. They’ve hardly trained together. So the understanding was terrific.”
Venegas hadn’t played previously because of a groin issue. Heath also complimented the play of midfielder Ibson and defenders Brent Kallman and Thomas de Villardi.
“It felt really good to play today,” Venegas said through a translator. “I hope to continue to grow with the team to make it the best I can at the beginning of the season.”
• Minnesota United has signed forward/defender Ish Jome. Jome had been listed as a preseason invitee on trial with the team since Arizona in January, but the Prairie Seeds Academy product is now officially under contract.
• Forward Abu Danladi and midfielder Bernardo Anor were not with the team Sunday. Danladi traveled for the rookie symposium, and Anor went back to Minnesota for a doctor’s appointment.
• A handout ahead of the game listed winger Josh Gatt as a bench player. While Gatt was, in fact, not on the bench or available to play Sunday, a source close to the team did confirm Friday that Gatt is expected to sign soon.