Clarke scores twice as Timbers top Thunder 2-1 in overtime

August 22, 2001
at PGE Park, Portland, Oregon

Goals:
21' - Portland: Jeff Clarke
28' - Minnesota: Steve Armas (Johnny Menyongar)
98' - Portland: Jeff Clarke (Keith Costigan)

Jeff Clarke scored twice for the Timbers, first in the 21st minute off a corner kick rebound, then in the 98th minute off a Keith Costigan long ball as the Timbers won in their home return, a 2-1 overtime win over the Minnesota Thunder in front of a crowd of 4,924 at PGE Park. Steve Armas had the lone goal for the Thunder.

Joe Warren punches a dangerous ball clear

There was a steady rain for much of the first half, at times becoming what could be best described as a torrential downpour. But the Portland turf held up well, and for much of the match, both teams moved the ball well. Just four minutes in, the Thunder had the first good scoring chance when Paul Nowak's shot from 15 yards out was blocked by the foot of Portland's Michael O'Neill.

Both teams kept good control of the ball in the increasing rain, and the Timbers forced a series of corner kicks in the 20th minute that led to the first goal of the game. In the 21st minute, off an O'Neill corner kick, Greg Howes' attempted header from 6 yards out was deflected back out, but it went right to the foot of Portland's Jeff Clarke, who controlled quickly, and hit a well-placed shot to the left side of the net to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.

Greg Howes

The Timbers continued to apply pressure, narrowly missing on an O'Neill free kick in the 23rd minute and a Clarke chip in the 25th minute. But in the 28th minute, Johnny Menyongar got control of the ball near the top of the box and tapped the ball back to Steve Armas, who chipped over Timbers goalkeeper Matt Napoleon and into the Timbers net to even the score at 1-1. During the next 10 minutes of play, neither team was able to push the ball deep enough to seriously threaten, and each goalkeeper made a few easy saves. In the 38th minute, Timbers forward Darren Sawatzky had a cross into the box that was barely behind him, and he couldn't control. The half ended with the score tied at 1-1.

The rain stopped during halftime, but some water had seeped under a section of the NexTurf and there was a 15 minute delay while the water was pumped out. After the delay, both offenses opened up for the second half. Darin Lewis had been substituted in just before the half, and he had the first good chance of the second half in the 51st minute when a long cross had him in one-on-one with Thunder goalkeeper Joe Warren, but Warren made a nice reaction save on the point-blank shot. Just two minutes later, Howes had the Timbers threatening again when he controlled a long ball, then turned and shot, but Warren was in good position and made the save.

Howes and Mark Schulte challenge for the header

In the next 15 minutes of play, the Thunder had been controlling the flow of play, going for the slow buildup, and switching field nicely to overload the defense, and it was working well for them, but not giving many good shots as Brent Sancho, Gavin Wilkinson, and Matt Chulis were rock-solid across the back. But in the 65th minute a nice cross from Don Gramenz went right to the foot of Menyongar, but the Thunder striker was not able to get enough on the ball, and the shot went harmlessly to Napoleon.

The Timbers started working a little better at possession, and in the 72nd minute a Chulis cross appeared to be heading dangerously into the box, but Thunder defender John Coughlin made a fine diving header to clear the ball from danger. Three minutes later, Keith Costigan got good pace on an O'Neill corner from 8 yards out, but the shot went a foot or so wide left. The flow of play swung back to the visitors after this, and in the 83rd minute the Thunder had a give and go between Menyongar and Gerard Lagos cleared at the last minute by Costigan.

Schulte takes one on the chin

But the Thunder continued their attack, and in the 84th minute a Gramenz cross dipped dangerously to the far post, but no Thunder players were able to catch up to it. In the 87th minute, the Thunder came very close to taking the lead when Menyongar found himself open 20 yards out from net. His hard low shot was deflected by a Timbers defender, but was still heading towards net, but Napoleon was able to recover and get to the ball just before a charging Lagos was able to get to the free ball. On the ensuing counterattack, the Timbers also nearly took the lead when a Lewis cross had Howes open from 18 yards out, but his hard high shot was deflected wide by Warren. Regulation time ended with the teams even at 1-1.

In the overtime, the visitors were trying to keep control, not pressing forward too hard, but also not trying to give up a cheap goal. The Timbers strategy at this point was to try to free Howes or Lewis with a long ball, a strategy that they had resorted to several times earlier in the evening. In the 95th minute, a seemingly innocent play nearly resulted in a Timbers goal when Lewis lost control of the ball attempting to run diagonally into the box, but an attempt to clear by Minnesota instead trickled out in front of the net, but there were no Timbers there to take advantage.

Schulte and Darren Sawatzky chasing down a long ball

However, in the 98th minute, the long ball strategy paid off. Costigan had been playing long diagonal passes all night, and his pass from just past midfield found Clarke, who was making an overlapping run, and Clarke got to the ball just in time to head it over Warren from 10 yards out, giving the Timbers their first home win since July 9, and breaking a four-game winless streak.

Paul Nowak and Matt Chulis
Stats:
Shots: Timbers 16, Thunder 11
Saves: Timbers 7, Thunder 5
Fouls: Timbers 26, Thunder 18
Offside: Timbers 11, Thunder 1
Corners: Timbers 10, Thunder 1

Cautions:
Timbers 1 (Winters 53' (yellow, hard tackle))
Thunder 2 (Menyongar 24' (yellow, dissent), Schulte 80' (yellow, hard tackle))

Sawatzky and John Coughlin going for the header
Starters:
Portland: Matt Napoleon, Gavin Wilkinson, Brent Sancho, Matt Chulis, Keith Costigan, Brian Winters, Michael O'Neill, Jeff Clarke, Scott Benedetti, Darren Sawatzky (Darin Lewis 45'), Greg Howes
Minnesota: Joe Warren, John Coughlin, Mark Schulte, Eric Otto (Mike Gentile 72'), Aaron Leventhal, Paul Nowak, Don Gramenz, Steve Armas, Johnny Menyongar, Corey Woolfolk, Gerard Lagos
The ground crew pumps water out from under the "home plate" section of the NexTurf

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