Ajax closed the 2010-2011 championship season on Wednesday with a 2-0 win against the Portland Timbers. Frank de Boer’s Ajax played a great match in Portland. The beautiful Jeld-Wen Field stadium’s vibrant atmosphere made the football evening extra special.
“I’m very satisfied”, said de Boer in retrospect soon after the end of the Timbers game. Lorenzo Ebecilio opened the scoring in the 18th minute for a fully booked stadium. Substitute Demy de Zeeuw scored the second goal one minute before the end. On the artificial turf of Jeld-Wen Field, de Boer was very complimentary over his opponent’s position play. “We played a concentrated game, and maybe gave away one opportunity. The players took their responsibility. They had to, because we represent Ajax in America. You can’t do anything stupid in the last game. You don’t want injuries. Some guys, like Jan and Toby (Vertonghen and Alderweireld) will be playing important interland qualifying matches. But in terms of opportunities, we maybe didn’t push enough.”
In an English – like atmosphere, Ajax closed their year of the third star. The Timbers Army – the hard core Portland Timbers fans – were out in full force to encourage their home team. The atmosphere was very different than at the practice match against DC United in Washington. Football is much more alive in the Pacific Northwest than in the east coast Washington. The Portlanders must have enjoyed the match also. In terms of football, the home team was clearly inferior, but they made up for their shortcomings with their fight. But Timber Joey, the official club mascot, went home disappointed. The mascot revved his chainsaw regularly during the match, but didn’t get the chance to saw. He only saws when the home team scores, so the tree trunk was entirely spared this evening.
Oleguer played his last minutes with Ajax against the Timbers. The Spanish defenders came in for Siem de Jong during the closing minutes. André Ooijer also saw action. The veteran played for ten minutes on the artificial turf in Oregon. “It was better than expected tonight”, said the former international about his turn. And jetlag was a factor for some players. “Some of them are still waking up at 6 in the morning. The time difference definitely impacts trainings and matches.” This year, when the Amsterdam native returned to Ajax forms a special chapter in his storied career. “If you can end a good season this way, it feels a bit like a reward. After the championship and the third star, we’ve earned our holiday. Everyone longs for a holiday after a year like this.”
The defender participated in the World Cup in South Africa last year with the Dutch team. After that, the runner up had very little time for holidays. As the selection returns to the Amsterdam ArenA, the holiday weeks will start for Ooijer. “This is sort of the first time that I’ve booked a holiday, and I can actually go”, laughs Ooijer. “So we’re going on a trip soon.” Nicolas Lodeiro left the team after the match in Washington. The Uruguayan player travelled to Germany for an interland against the host country. If the Ajax player remains in the selection, he will play a practice match at the start of June against the Dutch team. Gregory van der Wiel would be one of his opponents.
De Boer is positive about the American training week. The coach, who succeeded Martin Jol last December as head coach of Ajax, saw his players growing closer. “This trip has been amazing for team building”, said De Boer. “It was a fantastic week. Now, it’s time to enjoy the season. That’s easy when you’re on holiday.”