Three's all around. Timbers win 3-0 as the #3 hangs from the rafters
This was the first match the Timbers had played since entering the A-League that saw them with no chance at playoff berth, and the Timbers were without two starting defenders in Gavin Wilkinson and Aaron Heinzen, both sitting out for yellow card accumulation. But with no pressure on, the Timbers played a wide open game, and would dominate ball control for much of the evening.
Six minutes in, the Timbers had their first good scoring chance when after Patriots goalkeeper Scott Alexander's punch-out of a Scott Benedetti corner kick, the ball was headed back into the box and several bounces later it was at the feet of Portland's Jake Sagare, whose shot was blocked off his feet from six yards out by the Patriots defense. Eight minutes later, a cross from the right side from Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar forced a last second punch by Alexander to put it over the bar.
In the 17th minute, the Timbers had a great chance to break through when after an Alcaraz run down the right side, a pass was dropped right to the feet of McKinley Tennyson, wide open as he charged to the top of the box, but his shot was well over the bar and into the crowd.
But two minutes later, the Timbers took advantage of one of several first half corner kicks when Benedetti's corner was met by the head of defender Bryn Ritchie, who seemed to have been left mostly unmarked, and he rose well and buried the header into the right side of the net to give the Timbers an early 1-0 lead (see picture #5).
Five minutes later, the Patriots had a great chance to level the score when Laurenco Andrade's shot from near the top of the box was saved by a sprawling save to the right by Timbers goalkeeper Josh Saunders (see picture #6). In the 29th minute, the Timbers nearly widened the lead when a cross from Byron Alvarez into the box looked ready to be directed home by Tennyson, who was once again unmarked in the box, but he could only get a toe on the ball and it bounced harmlessly through the box. Four minutes later, Alvarez made another great run into the box from the right side, this time putting the shot on net and forcing a reaction save by Alexander to knock the ball over the endline for a corner.
The last good chance of the first half for either side was a Portland's Jason Melendez who hit a hard shot from 18 yards out that was pushed wide by Alexander, and the half ended with the Timbers holding a 1-0 lead.
The Patriots had the first good scoring opportunity of the second half, when a pass from Mike Griego found Javier Carrasco briefly open in the box, and his attempt to dip a curling shot into the upper right corner was barely a yard over the bar. Two minutes later, the Patriots had two more good opportunities when after a free kick just outside the box, and then a subsequent corner kick had the Patriots with dangerous crosses into the box that the Timbers were able to clear before the visitors could put a shot on net. In the 51st minute, the Timbers had their first good scoring opportunity of the second half when Alvarez made a run down the left side, then cut back across the top of the box, with his shot from 18 yards out appearing to be deflected just over the bar by a defender's foot, but a goal kick was awarded on the play instead.
In the 58th minute however, a shot from just about the same spot would have a quite different result. A cross from the right side from Melendez that was right to the top of the box was blasted into the upper right corner by a charging Benedetti, and the Timbers had widened their lead to 2-0.
The number of scoring opportunities settled down after this, with both teams appearing to be happy playing in midfield, though the Patriots had a few close calls on attempts to spring a striker with a long cross as they made a run from midfield, but each time El Paso was foiled by either the offside flag, or a charging Saunders, who was not hesitant to charge out of the box to clear the ball on this evening.
In the 78th and then again in the 80th minutes, the Patriots had good opportunities to pull a goal back as a dangerous Andrade cross required Saunders to come off his line to smother the ball, and then a powerful shot from Jose Abarca required a diving save by Sanders to keep the clean sheet.
The Timbers found that perfect third goal in the 84th minute, when Sagare took the ball to the El Paso endline, then hit a hard shot from the extreme angle that snuck through for the final goal of the night. On this night when Clive Charles was on everyone's mind, and his number 3 was hanging from the rafters in the northeast corner of the stadium, the Timbers put a perfect three-spot on the scoreboard with the 3-0 victory.