Timbers score two early, hold on to beat El Paso 2-1

May 23, 2001
at PGE Park, Portland, Oregon

In his first game back after serving a one-game suspension, midfielder Michael O'Neill had a goal and an assist, and Darren Sawatzky scored the second goal as the Timbers went up 2-0 early, and held on for a 2-1 win over the El Paso Patriots in a match played in front of 3,861 at PGE Park.

For the first few minutes, each team was feeling the other team out, but it didn't take long for the Timbers to have their first scoring chance. In the 3rd minute, Mark Baena attempted to flick on a quick pass as he was standing with his back to the goal, but Patriots goalkeeper Jesse Lamas was in good position and saved easily. Five minutes later, Greg Howes seemed to have a good chance as he maneuvered to the top of the box, but he could not keep the ball close enough, and Lamas smothered the ball.

The Timbers seemed ready to score a minute later when a through ball from Darren Sawatzky found Baena in a run down the left side, but Lamas quickly cut off the angle and Baena attempted to chip from about 10 yards out, but the chip was too high and went a few yards over the bar. About ten minutes in, the Patriots had their first good chance of the first half, but after making a run down the right side, Gustavo Leal's shot went well high.

In the 18th minute, the Timbers finally scored the type of goal that had eluded for much of the early season. Sawatzky played a quick diagonal ball into Baena who was making a run into the goal box. Baena's left footed shot was saved by Lamas, but the Patriots goalkeeper could not control the ball, and after being loose in front of the goal for a second or so, Michael O'Neill struck a slightly weak shot as he stretched for the ball, but it was enough to get into the net and put the Timbers up 1-0.

Just three minutes later, O'Neill helped put the ball in net again. O'Neill played a long ball from behind the midfield line to Sawatzky, who was making a long run down the right side. Sawatzky caught the ball on his right foot as he stretched to control it, dropping it perfectly down into the dribble, and after just one dribble, he beat Lamas, who was charging out from goal, to the lower left corner of the net to put the Timbers up 2-0.

Just six minutes later, it appeared the Timbers were about to score their third goal when Baena found himself in on Lamas one-on-one after an attempted clear was headed back into the box. Baena faked left, then attempted to curl the ball around Lamas, but the shot did not curl quite enough, and ricocheted off the right post and was cleared by the Patriots defense.

In the 33rd minute, Baena again made a good diagonal run to the goalkeeper's right, and this time played a ball across the goalmouth that Sawatzky was only able to barely deflect, but not enough to put the ball towards the net. Six minutes later, Leal once again made a run deep into the Timbers defense after a long ball from midfield, but the result was the same as Timbers goalkeeper Matt Napoleon watched the shot go over the bar.

The Timbers nearly added a third goal in the closing minutes of the half when they were awarded a free kick from about 20 yards out. O'Neill took the kick and managed to get the ball around the right side of the Patriots wall, but the shot went about a foot wide to the right and into the side netting to make the halftime score Timbers 2, El Paso 0.

The Patriots came out in the 2nd half with a more aggressive style, and goal scoring opportunities began to occur for the visiting side. But the Timbers got a few good chances early in the second half, the first when Howes' shot from 15 yards was saved but not controlled. After a failed attempt to clear by El Paso, Sawatzky got to the ball and put it into the El Paso net, but was ruled offside and the goal was disallowed. A few minutes later, Scott Benedetti tapped a ball off a corner out to Brian Winters who was wide open from 20 yards, but his shot went very high over the bar. The Patriots then began to press forward more, and in the 50th minute, off a corner kick from the left side, Michael Greigo's header went just a yard or so wide right.

The Patriots kept up the pressure on the Timbers goal, forcing most of the play into the Timbers defensive half, and in the 63rd minute the pressure finally paid off. A corner kick from the right side was headed and saved by Napoleon, but not controlled and Jesus Ochoa saved the ball off the line. His clearance only went out about 20 yards though, and El Paso's Carlos Farias controlled, and sent in a low shot that appeared destined to go wide right, but into a crowd that was packed into the goal box. The ball appeared to deflect once or twice, but found it's way into goal to cut the Timbers lead to 2-1.

In the 74th minute, while El Paso was continuing to apply pressure to the Timbers goal, the intensity of the game picked up after a hard tackle from behind by El Paso's Frederico Juarez brought out a yellow. Earlier in the half, El Paso's Carlos had received a yellow for tacking Howes from behind, and shortly afterwards Howes had received a yellow for running into Carlos after releasing a pass. El Paso continued to control the run of play, but the number of fouls was increasing as the players began jawing at each other on the field.

In the 78th minute, Timbers defender Matt Chulis slid in hard from the side on a tackle, pushing the ball out of bounds but taking down the El Paso player as well, and was sent off with a red card. The Timbers were forced to pack into the defensive end with the 10 remaining players and endure the pressure for the remainder of the match.

For the final ten minutes, it was up to Gavin Wilkinson, Brent Sancho, Ochoa, and O'Neill to keep the Patriots from getting a good shot on goal, which they were mostly successful in doing. But the Timbers rarely kept control of the ball long and El Paso continued to keep the pressure on. In extra time, when it appeared the Timbers had finally pushed the ball out to midfield and were in a position to kill the clock, a quick steal and a long pass to a streaking El Paso forward appeared to tie the game, but the Patriot was ruled offside before he put the ball in net, and the goal was disallowed. A minute or so later, the referee signaled the end of the match and the Timbers had finally held a late lead with a 2-1 win.

Shots: Timbers 10, Patriots 11
Saves: Timbers 3, Patriots 4
Fouls: Timbers 19, Patriots 16
Offsides: Timbers 4, Patriots 3
Corners: Timbers 7, Patriots 7

Timbers 2 (Howes 66' (yellow, collision), Chulis 78' (red, hard tackle))
Patriots 2 (Farias 46' (yellow, tackle from behind), Juarez (yellow, tackle from behind))

Portland: Matt Napoleon, Gavin Wilkinson, Brent Sancho, Matt Chulis, Jesus Ochoa, Brian Winters, Michael O'Neill, Scott Benedetti, Darren Sawatzky, Mark Baena (Tony McPeak 63'), Greg Howes
El Paso: Jesse Lamas, Severo Hernandez, Justin Pratt (Frederico Juarez 31'), Guillermo MacFarlane, Esmundo Rodriguez, Jose Leomli (Jose Barajas 85'), Carlos Farias, Paul Cabrera (Salvador Mercado 42'), Michael Griego, Mark Rowland (Omar Mora 62'), Gustavo Leal (Carlos Martinez 71')

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