MAY 27, 2006
Timbers first shutout just enough in 1-0 win over Thunder
It took until the eighth match of the 2006 season before the Timbers would finally record a shutout, but keeping the Thunder off the board would mean three points as the Timbers made Byron Alvarez's first half goal hold up for a 1-0 win over the Minnesota Thunder in front of 3,571 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minnesota.
Early in the match it was the visiting Timbers who would control much of the run of play, and it wouldn't take long for them to get a dangerous scoring chance when in the 6th minute, a cross from Mamba Chisoni would barely elude first the foot of Luke Kreamalmeyer, then Alejandro Gutierrez as it went across the mouth of the Thunder goal. Two minutes later, Portland had another good scoring opportunity when Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar launched a low, hard shot from 25 yards out that was just wide to the left and into the side netting, but it was a shot that Thunder goalkeeper Joe Warren seemed to have covered.
In the 26th minute, the Timbers had another good chance when off a corner kick, Michael Nsien had a good look near the far post, but his shot was just wide right. Six minutes later, the Thunder would have their first good chance of the half when Melvin Tarley had an open opportunity from 10 yards out as he charged into the Timbers box, but was a bit high and wide with his shot.
In the 34th minutes, the Timbers would break the scoreless tie when a free kick from near the sideline by Alcaraz-Cuellar was right onto the head of Byron Alvarez, who flicked on a high arcing shot towards the far post from his position about eight yards out from goal, but his header was over the Thunder defense and slipped just under the bar into the far side of the net, and the Timbers had a 1-0 lead, which would be the score at the half as neither team would seriously threaten in the last ten minutes of the first half.
It would be the Thunder who would come out of the locker room on the attack early in the second half, and it didn't take long to get their first scoring opportunity when Minnesota had their own dangerous cross that went through the Timbers crease just out of the reach of a few Thunder attackers. The Timbers would respond with a good chance of their own when Chisoni hit a curling shot from 30 yards out that curled right into the waiting hands of Warren for an easy save.
The home Thunder would have a few great chances in the 55th minute when a corner kick had Chad Dombrowski open at the far post, but his shot was blocked wide by Timbers goalkeeper Josh Saunders. Off the following corner kick it would be Kevin Friedland who would have a good look, but his shot from 10 yards out was wide to the left.
In the 66th minute, the Thunder would be on the attack again when Nathan Knox would slip in behind the Timbers defense and made an open run down the left side and into the box, but a retreating Nsien was able to knock the shot off Knox's foot just in time to block the shot over the endline.
In the 72nd minute it appeared Minnesota had tied the score when after a shot from Godfrey Tenoff was saved by Saunders fell right to the foot of Kiki Lara, who put the shot past Saunders, but the assistant referee's flag had come up and Lara was ruled to have been in an offside position and the goal was disallowed.
The Timbers did have a good chance to widen their lead in the 80th minute when Oral Bullen was able to beat a few tackle attempts and brought the ball in alone on an angle into the Thunder box, but his shot or pass across the goalmouth was out of the reach of a charging Drew McAthy, and slipped past the far post to keep the Timbers defending a one goal lead.
For the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time, it would be a constant barrage of attacks by the Thunder, mostly moving down the left side, challenging second half substitute defender Garrett Marcum for the final five minutes, who came on for an injured Jacobi Goodfellow. But their only effective attack were long crosses from the wings that were being easily cleared by the Timbers defense, with the Thunder's best chance in the late going being a Tarley chance from 10 yards out in the 86th minute that was blocked wide by Lee Morrison.
But the Timbers were able to hold off the late barrage through three minutes of stoppage time, and when the three whistles blew, the Timbers had their first shutout of the season, a 1-0 win, their second straight win in the young season.
Josh Saunders recorded no official saves on the night, while Joe Warren was credited with one save for the Thunder.