UNION (7-3-3) VS. TIMBERS (3-6-2)
7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, DAZN, PHL17, ROOTNW
Brian Fernandez didn’t take long to make an impression on the Portland Timbers.
Making his Portland debut in the team’s last game, May 15 at Houston, he came on as a second-half substitute and scored 12 minutes later to give the Timbers a 1-1 draw with the Dynamo.
“I’m very happy. It was a great effort for me to be here,” Fernandez told reporters through an interpreter. “And the least I can do to repay them is doing my very best and scoring goals like I did today.”
Fernandez, 24, who just arrived from Mexican club Necaxa for a reported seven-figure transfer fee, could get his first MLS start when the Timbers play Saturday against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union in Chester, Pa.
“He was a threat as soon as he jumped onto the field,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said of Fernandez’s debut. “He told me, ‘I’m going to score,’ (and) he did.”
The Timbers (3-6-2, 11 points) will be wrapping up their season-opening 12-game trip while their home stadium, Providence Park, is undergoing renovations.
Fernandez has 43 goals in 108 professional games, including 18 in 32 for Necaxa.
“I watch a lot of the Mexican league,” Union coach Jim Curtin told Philly.com. “I’ve seen him; I’m familiar with him. He’s a handful — there’s no secret to that. The price tag that he comes over here with, the investment from Portland, is a real one. He’s a top player.”
The Union (7-3-3, 24 points) is coming off a scoreless draw at home against Seattle last Saturday, a game in which the Sounders deployed five defenders.
“We are playing very good soccer this year. It’s also a little bit of respect for us,” Union midfielder Haris Medunjanin said in the locker room after the game. “They’re not going to open themselves up over here. … They were just hoping for some corners and some free kicks, and even a mistake of ours. But I think we didn’t give them any chance.”
–Field Level Media