Thunder strikes first, but Timbers respond with three for 3-1 win

June 6, 2001
at PGE Park, Portland, Oregon

This quick shot from Thunder forward Gerard Lagos put Minnesota ahead in the 38th minute

38' - Minnesota: Gerard Lagos (Amos Magee)
45' - Portland: Mark Baena (Brent Sancho)
87' - Portland: Darren Sawatzky (Kevin Legg)
90' - Portland: Mark Baena (Darren Sawatzky)

For the first time this year, the Timbers trailed after Minnesota's Gerard Lagos put in an Amos Magee cross in the 38th minute, but the Timbers responded with two goals from Mark Baena, sandwiched around a goal from Darren Sawatzky, to give the Timbers a 3-1 win before a crowd of 2,999 at PGE Park.

Both the Timbers and the Thunder have the ability to control the ball well through stringing together passes, and that was how the match played out for much of the night. Few chances, but when they had them, often they were quality chances. In the 10th minute, Mark Baena had a good chance from 15 yards out, but his shot towards the far corner went high and wide, and was well covered by Thunder goalkeeper John Swallen.

Darren Sawatzky attempts to cross between John Coughlin and Kalin Bankov

In the 14th minute the Thunder had their first good chance when Amos Magee crossed from the left side to Gerard Lagos, who was making a run towards the far post, but the pass was slightly behind Lagos and he was only able to chip the shot weakly to Timbers keeper Matt Napoleon, who saved easily.

In the 24th minute, Minnesota's Morgan Zeba took a very hard shot from 20 yards out that had enough pace to slip through Napoleon's hands, but he got enough of the shot to take all the pace off it, and recovered easily. Two minutes later, Magee again pushed deep into the Timbers box, but Brent Sancho tightly marked Magee until Napoleon was able to cover the ball. In the 36th minute, the Timbers had a good opportunity when Greg Howe's cross went to the feet of Darren Sawatzky, but he had trouble controlling the ball, and his weak cross was headed well over the goal by Baena.

In the 38th minute, Magee's work inside the Timbers box finally paid off for the Thunder. He once again pressed deep into the box, and he faked to pull Napoleon out slightly, then slid a perfect pass to Lagos, who drilled the ball into the Timbers net, marking the first time the Timbers had failed to score first this season, and also the first time they had ever trailed in a match.

Gerard Lagos goes high over a Timber defender for the header

The visitor's lead wouldn't last long, however. In first half injury time, a Sawatzky throw-in near the end line was headed towards the net by Sancho, and Baena ran into the ball and knocked it into the goal out of the air into the left side of the net, leveling the score at 1-1.

In the 53rd minute, off a Sancho cross, Howes played a header that went just wide right. At this point, both teams started stringing together long series of passes, both teams cautious against giving up a winning goal. In the 80th and 85th minutes, the Thunder came very close to taking the lead on shots that were just barely high. In the 80th minute, midfielder Matt Schmidt blasted a shot from 25 yards that went about a yard high. Five minutes later, midfielder Stoian Mladenov caught the Timbers keeper out of position, and attempted a shot from 40 yards that just barely missed the top right corner of the goal, missing by no more than a foot.

Mark Baena guarding John Coughlin

The Thunder seemed more anxious for a win in the later minutes and started to push forward, but this allowed the Timbers more chances on the counterattack. In the 86th minute, Sawatzky found himself in on Swallen one-on-one, but his hard shot was saved well by Swallen, who cut off the angle well and deflected the ball wide. But the Timbers finally scored the game winner in the 87th minute, set up by a series of short passes. Jesus Ochoa played a pass to Sancho, who then tapped the ball to Kevin Legg at the top of the box. Legg played a short pass out to Sawatzky, who was making his run from the left side. Sawatzky stopped the ball on his right foot, then blasted a shot which Swallen was able to deflect slightly, but it had too much pace to stop, and went just inside the left post to put the Timbers up 2-1.

The Thunder tried to push forward for the equalizer, but had little luck as Sancho, Matt Chulis, and Gavin Wilkinson were closing down the Thunder in the attacking third. In the 90th minute, the Timbers had another one-on-one when Sawatzky played a through ball to Baena, but when Swallen charged out, Baena attempted to chip and his shot was well over the bar.

But a minute later, in injury time, the exact same scenario happened again, only this time Baena shot around Swallen instead of over him, and his shot found the net, giving the Timbers a bonus point, and making the final score 3-1.

Greg Howes making a quick move along the sideline
Shots: Timbers 10, Thunder 7
Saves: Timbers 2, Thunder 2
Fouls: Timbers 12, Thunder 15
Offsides: Timbers 9, Thunder 4
Corners: Timbers 4, Thunder 2

Timbers none
Thunder 2 (Zeba 18' (dissent), Lagos 87' (hard tackle))

Portland: Matt Napoleon, Brent Sancho, Gavin Wilkinson, Matt Chulis, Brian Winters, Kevin Legg, Jesus Ochoa, Scott Benedetti (Keith Costigan 86'), Greg Howes, Mark Baena, Darren Sawatzky
Minnesota: John Swallen, John Coughlin, Kalin Bankov, Don Gramenz, Mark Schulte, Aaron Leventhal, Matt Schmidt, Morgan Zeba, Stoian Mladenov, Gerard Lagos, Amos Magee
Mark Baena guarded by Aaron Leventhal, as John Swallen looks on

Darren Sawatzky's hard shot, late in the match, was deflected wide by a reaction save from Thunder goalkeeper John Swallen

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