Timbers shut out Eagles in first leg of playoff series

September 20, 2001
at PGE Park, Portland, Oregon

10' - Portland: Darin Lewis (Mark Baena)
19' - Portland: Mark Baena (Brian Winters)

The Timbers entered the first leg of their two-game series against Charlotte on Thursday knowing several regulars would not see action, and that they needed a solid result before the series returned to Charlotte on Saturday. The Timbers got exactly what they needed as Darin Lewis scored in the 10th minute, then Mark Baena added a second goal nine minutes later, as the Timbers then held Charlotte scoreless for the remainder of the match, scoring a 2-0 win over Charlotte in front of 4,771 fans at PGE Park.

Matt Chulis about to cross

Oregon State Police officer Daniel Johnson opened the evening with a patriotic medley of American anthems that nearly moved many in the crowd to tears. On a very emotional evening, both teams carried small American flags onto the field during the pre-game ceremonies, and both teams also wore black armbands, as did many people in the crowd. Behind the north goal, many American flags were visible, as well as flags from Canada, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Ireland, the UK, New Zealand, and Kyrgyzstan.

It was apparent from the opening whistle that this match was going to be quite different from the previous meeting between these two teams. While that match had been focused on ball control, with quick precise passing and slow buildups, this match was going to be more focused on the long ball, winning headers, and control in tight spaces. After the Eagles had played a few long shots into the box that Timbers goalkeeper Matt Napoleon saved easily, the Timbers had their first really good scoring chance in the 10th minute, and they made the best of it.

Brian Winters heads over Ryan Lieb

The Timbers earned a corner kick after a pass from Darren Sawatzky to Darin Lewis had Lewis in deep, where the Eagles were forced to deflect over the endline. Michael O'Neill played a short corner to Sawatzky, who dropped the ball back to O'Neill, who crossed over the box to Mark Baena. Baena knocked the ball back across the box where Lewis was in a perfect position to chop the ball in past Eagles goalkeeper Dwayne Adams.

Seven minutes later, the Eagles had their first good scoring chance when a cross from deep in the Timbers end came directly to Eagles forward Dustin Swinehart, who attempted a quick side volley, but the shot went wide left.

In the 19th minute, Timbers midfielder Brian Winters stole a pass directly off an Eagles defender's trap, fighting hard through the Eagles challenge, and played a chip pass into the run of Baena, who nicely chested the ball down into his run, then beat a charging Adams to the short side to give the Timbers an early 2-0 lead. The Eagles had received their early wake-up call, and being suddenly down 2-nil seemed to put a charge in the Eagles offense, who controlled play for much of the remainder of the half.

Mark Baena sent this cross over the crossbar

Swinehart would be a thorn in the side of Napoleon all night, and in the 20th minute he fought through a few tackles into the box, but his shot from 20 yards out had little pace, and trickled wide right. The Timbers responded with a few opportunities during the next 10 minutes, but their chances were from outside the box, and were wide or over the crossbar. In the 35th minute, Swinehart broke into the box again, but this time his shot was deflected by Timbers defender Matt Chulis, and Napoleon was able to cover.

In the 41st minute, the Timbers had a few long shots once again saved by Adams. Then in the 43rd minute, a poor clearance by the Timbers fell to Charlotte's Nate Watkins, who hit a hard shot from near the top of the box, but the shot was over the crossbar, and the half ended with the Timbers up 2-0.

The Timbers appeared to have taken a 3-0 lead in the 49th minute when Sawatzky made a run down the left side, then crossed to Baena in front of the goal, where he tapped the ball past Adams and into the net. But the assistant referee ruled that the defender who was guarding Sawatzky was behind Baena, and the goal was waved off. In the 51st minute, after an Eagles corner kick, the ball was dropped back to a charging Watkins, who hit a hard shot from 25 yards that was blocked in the box, then cleared by the Timbers defense.

Mark Baena shows his patriotism before the match

A few minutes later, Sawatzky was again on the charge, and he played a ball to Baena, who this time appeared to be at least two yards offside, along with Lewis, on the other side, who also appeared offside. But the flag stayed down, and after Baena hesitated, expecting a whistle, he took a shot to Adams near side, that Adams stopped with a reaction save. By this time the Timbers had begun to play a bit further back, with only Baena and Lewis attacking, and frequently Lewis was the only player forward.

For the next twenty minutes, the Timbers were letting the Eagles attack past midfield, but Gavin Wilkinson, Neil Ryan, and Chulis were doing well to shut down the Eagles near the top of the box, usually focusing on Swinehart, whom the Eagles always seemed to be looking to play the last pass to. One Swinehart run had put him in alone on Napoleon, but the play had immediately been whistled on a close offside call. In the 79th minute, off a corner kick, a Jacob Cobbins header towards the far corner required a last-minute punch-out by Napoleon, then after a wild scramble in front of the net, the ball was cleared out of harm's way. The Timbers seemed intent on taking the two goal advantage to Charlotte as they had packed in the defense, but it would take one big save to keep that margin.

Darin Lewis marked by Ryan Lieb and Hugo Caleano

In the 87th minute, off a free kick from 25 yards out, a chipped ball into the box went into the run of Swinehart, who shot hard towards the far post from only 10 yards out, but Napoleon made a spectacular reaction save, easily his best save of the night, and after a rebound shot was blocked by a Timbers defender, the ball was cleared out to Lewis at midfield. The Timbers were able to hold control of the ball for much of the remaining time, and the match ended in a 2-0 win for the Timbers, who take that two goal lead into the second half of the total-goal series, which will continue on Saturday night in Charlotte.

Mark Baena after being fouled from behind
Shots: Timbers 6, Eagles 17
Saves: Timbers 6, Eagles 2
Fouls: Timbers 12, Eagles 16
Offsides: Timbers 3, Eagles 5
Corners: Timbers 3, Eagles 8

Timbers 3 (Ryan 26' (yellow, hard tackle), Sawatzky 43' (yellow, hard challenge for header), O'Neill 63' (yellow, hard challenge))
Eagles 2 (Correa 32' (yellow, hard tackle), Watkins 73' (yellow, hard tackle))

Michael O'Neill sends in a long cross
Portland: Matt Napoleon, Matt Chulis, Neil Ryan, Gavin Wilkinson, Keith Costigan, Jesus Ochoa, Michael O'Neill, Brian Winters, Darren Sawatzky (Vadim Tolstolutsky 84'), Mark Baena, Darin Lewis
Charlotte: Dwayne Adams, Ben Parry, Jose Correa, Kevin O'Brien, Hugo Galeano, Leo Gajardo, Caleb Norkus, Ryan Leib, Nate Watkins, Jose Gomez (Jacob Cobbins 76'), Dustin Swinehart
Matt Chulis with the throw-in

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