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Aug 4, 2014

Goalless draw in Homegrown Game

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Steven Evans got the biggest cheers Monday night at the inaugural MLS Homegrown Game.

Evans grew up in Portland and was on the Timbers' under-23 team before playing at the University of Portland. After college, he signed with the Timbers as the team's second homegrown player.

He served as captain of the group of players who, like him, came from the MLS program to develop and keep young talent. They played the Timbers U23 team to a 0-0 draw.

The event, sponsored by Chipotle, was part of the MLS All-Star festivities. The All-Star game is scheduled for Wednesday night at Portland's downtown Providence Park.

The homegrown players had just 24 hours and a walkthrough to prepare. But the idea was to give the league's young stars a showcase.

"It was a tough thing to do, because I played with some of them (the Timbers). So I had to keep that in mind and just look for the white jerseys tonight," said Evans, who is currently on loan to the Sacramento Republic of the USL Pro.

Portland's Andy Thoma challenged homegrown goalkeeper Jon Kempin of Sporting KC in the 52nd minute but the shot went wide right. Miguel Aguilar looked to have another good shot at beating Kempin in the 61st minute, but it also sailed wide.

Kempin, who played the second half, was named MVP of the match.

"It was a lot of fun," said Kempin, a member of the U.S. national U20 team. "It's always good to get 45 minutes and it turned out to be a competitive match."

The Timbers' U23 team just wrapped up its PDL season with a 5-4-5 record. The team has produced 16 players who have gone on to MLS clubs, including Evans.

Homegrown players can be signed to a professional contract to the team that developed him without having to go through the draft process.

Homegrown coach Alfonso Mondelo, the MLS director of player programs, said he hopes that a showcase game for young players will continue to be part of the All-Star festivities.

"I thought it was entertaining," he said. "The only thing that was missing was the goals."

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