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Portland Timbers ride “high quality” Evander to comeback win | MLSSoccer.com

Portland Timbers ride “high quality” Evander to comeback win | MLSSoccer.com

Phil Neville planned to bring Evander along slowly during his return from a foot injury that sidelined him from the Portland Timbers’ first two matches of the 2024 season.

But the Designated Player convinced the Timbers’ new head coach to keep him on the Yankee Stadium pitch, and it paid dividends with Evander scoring a 97th-minute winner in Saturday’s 2-1 comeback victory at New York City FC.

“He probably should’ve played only 60 minutes maximum coming back from injury,” Neville said post-match. “He didn’t want to come off – he could smell that the game was there for him, he was enjoying his football.”

Santiago Rodríguez had given the hosts an early 1-0 lead, one that held up until Antony’s 85th-minute equalizer. That’s when Evander, despite the pain in his heel, knew he could muster up something special in his season debut.

“When we tied the game, [Neville] was about to sub me out, and I said I was going to keep playing because I had a feeling we were going to win the game and I could score the goal and help the team to get the three points,” Evander said.

The Brazilian No. 10 and club-record signing did just that, scoring an absolute banger from distance, marking the latest game-winning goal in Timbers history.

“Evander grabbed hold of the game, and you saw the benefit today of having a DP that is without doubt high, high quality,” Neville said.

Portland have navigated early-season injuries and are now 2W-0L-1D with eight goals scored in Neville’s first three games in charge – the best start of any head coach in club history.

And with the Timbers reportedly close to finalizing a deal for Club América striker Jonathan Rodríguez, more explosive moments could be on the horizon.

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