Portland Timbers (Second team) 4 (Fatawu 13, Manning 24, Peay 30, Besler 70)
Newcastle United 3 (Wijnaldum 5, Aarons 75, 76)
Purely in terms of entertainment this game contained more than the previous three pre season friendlies combined, though exactly how much Steve McClaren learnt from this game is anybody’s guess.
When I saw Newcastle’s starting eleven I struggled to work out just who was playing where.
On the surface it looked as though the new Newcastle Head Coach had very early on accepted his new team was going to be rubbish at defending, with Lubomir Satka the only defender named in the team that started the game.
However, Gael Bigirimana was pressed into service at right-back with the attacking threat of Rolando Aarons forced back to left-back, whilst most surprisingly/astonishingly of all, Shane Ferguson was paired with Satka at centre-back. This is will o the wisp lightweight winger Shane Ferguson, who looks like any significant gust of wind will cause him problems…
The positives saw Wijnaldum open the scoring (watch it HERE) after only five minutes, then Rolando Aarons finish off the scoring with two brilliant goals in a minute late on.
However, the in between bit was an embarrassment.
Newcastle leaking four goals against this third tier American outfit who must have thought all of their fourth of Julys had come at once.
Sloppy defending and outplayed at times, Newcastle as ever looked weak in the air and conceded two of the four goals from headers.
Satka’s mistake let Timbers striker Belmar go one on one with Karl Darlow and despite his block, Fatawu was on hand to level things after 13 minutes.
Just over 10 minutes later the home side were ahead, Manning meeting a free-kick to send his header beyond Darlow. Then on 30 minutes yet another set-play found United out, the corner met by defender Clarke whose header was finished off from close range by Peay.
Things did briefly look up as Janmaat was introduced at half-time to steady the ship at the back and Newcastle looking the better team..however, after yet another scare when Nanchoff’s free-kick came back off the bar, Timbers (2) made it 4-1 when Besler headed in Jeanderson’s left wing cross.
Results don’t matter in friendlies, to a large extent, but performances do and this was awful.
However, by far the bright spot was Rolando Aarons, after creating the opening goal he then added two of his own.
The 75th and 76th minutes seeing Aarons flick the ball up inside the box before expertly putting an overhead kick past the home keeper, before seconds later smashing home a strike from just outside the box.
Plenty to think about for Steve McClaren and his coaches to think about but not much of it good, with just over two weeks until the season kicks off.
McClaren had earlier said that he wasn’t impressed that he had been landed with a pre season trip to America, saying he thought pre season in Europe provided a much better preparation.
He must also have been shaking his head at the choice of matches/venues, with worries about the artificial surface ensuring he wouldn’t risk the likes of Coloccini and Taylor on the plastic pitch.
Newcastle United: Darlow (Woodman 46), Bigirimana, Satka, Ferguson, Aarons, Abeid (Anita 65), Wijnaldum (Janmaat 46), Sissoko (Obertan 46), Perez, Gouffran (de Jong 75), Cisse (Armstrong 46)