June 2 vs. San Diego Flash at PGE Park

Portland - Mark Baena 21' (Keith Costigan)

Forward Mark Baena chested down a pass that had been crossed to him by midfielder Keith Costigan, then beat Flash goalkeeper Matt Hall with a hard shot, and it was the only score of the night as the Portland Timbers shut out the San Diego Flash 1-0 at PGE Park before a crowd of 4,489

Adam Maurer and Mark Baena fighting for control of the cross

Throughout their inagural season, the Timbers have made a habit of controlling the match early, and this match was no exception. Nine minutes into the match, the Timbers had the first good scoring chance of the night, when a Brent Sancho cross found Michael O'Neill near the back post, but his header into the ground was saved by Flash goalkeeper Matt Hall. In the 11th minute, a Keith Costigan pass had forward Darren Sawatzky free on the left side, but though his shot was hard, it was directly at Hall, who knocked the hard shot down and kept control of the ball.

Five minutes later, a Costigan cross was knocked down by forward Mark Baena and over to Sawatzky, who attempted a bicycle kick on the ball, but the shot was weak and was saved easily.

Jesus Ochoa plays the cross past Jay Martinez

The Flash did not even have a shot on goal yet when the Timbers took advantage of their best chance of the night. In the 21st minute, after an O'Neill free kick had been played harmlessly through the box, Costigan did a good job of turning on the ball to play a cross back into the box, which was flicked on by a Gavin Wilkinson header to Baena, who trapped the ball with his chest, dropped the ball to his left foot, then shot well towards the top right corner to put the Timbers up 1-0.

For the remainder of the half, the Timbers were not getting as many chances, and play was more in midfield for the next twenty minutes. But the last five minutes of the first half saw good chances for both teams.

Scott Benedetti clearing the ball off his own line

In the 41st minute, San Diego's Chugger Adair appeared to be in a dangerous position when a low diagonal pass found him at the top of the box, but he could not control the ball, and it deflected right to Timbers goalkeeper Matt Napoleon. In the 45th minute, a Scott Benedetti cross into the box was run onto well by Greg Howes, but his header went just wide left.

As extra time began for the first half, the Flash had their best scoring chance of the evening when midfielder Nate Hetherington made a great run from 30 yards out and found himself in one-on-one with Napoleon, but the Timbers keeper charged off his line and dove onto the ball, smothering the shot, which came free out to the top of the box, but was cleared by the Timbers defense. A minute later, Sawatzky found himself alone about 10 yards out after a Benedetti cross, but he rushed a scissor shot that went wide right, and the half ended with the Timbers up 1-0

Keith Costigan plays the ball along the sideline

Each team had two more good chances to score on headers before the end of the half, but none of the shots were hard enough to beat either keeper, and the half ended 2-0 in favor of the home side.

In the second half, play was more even, and the Timbers were playing back a little more, while the Flash were pushing more players forward. But it was the Timbers who had the first good chance of the half when Sawatzky picked a Flash defender clean, then came in one-on-one with the Flash keeper, but Hall made a good diving save on the shot towards the short side of the net. Just a minute later, Adair made a good effort for San Diego when he caught Napoleon slightly off his line and attempted to chip the Timbers keeper, but Napoleon recovered well, and the shot just glanced off the top of the bar and over for the goal kick.

This hard shot from Darren Sawatzky was saved by Matt Hall

The tone of the match changed a bit in the 66th minute when Sawatzky made a good run into the box, and was taken down inside the box on a hard tackle, where his legs were scissored out from under him, but the referee called play on, and the ball was cleared to midfield. In the 72 minute, after a Costigan cross, Howes attempted to turn on the ball to shoot, and managed to get off a good shot, despite the fact his jersey was clearly being held by the Flash defender, but his shot was stopped by a good save from Hall.

From this point on, the Timbers fell into a more defensive posture, attempting to protect their slim lead. In the 76th minute, after a free kick, a ball was headed back to Heatherington, who was only about six yards out, but he only managed a weak shot, which floated harmlessly to Napoleon. The Flash made several pushes forward, but were encountering a packed-in Timbers defense, and the Flash chances were being cleared by the Timbers defenders, or Napoleon was snatching the crosses from mid-air. Much of the play in the final five minutes was inside the Timbers box, but there were no serious scoring threats, as the defense and Napoleon played solidly, and the Timbers emerged with a 1-0 win, and first place in the Western Conference.

Tony McPeak prepares to cross
Shots on goal: Timbers 11, Flash 7
Saves: Timbers 5, Flash 6
Corner Kicks: Timbers 6, Flash 4
Fouls: Timbers 17, Flash 7
Offsides: Timbers 4, Flash 1

Cautions: Timbers 4 ( Winters 34' (yellow, hard tackle), Costigan 40' (yellow, grabbing shirt), Sawatzky 49' (yellow, hard tackle), Sancho 65' (yellow, hard tackle)), Flash 2 (Livett (yellow, tackle from behind ), Brown 74' (yellow, dissent))

Matt Napoleon, Brent Sancho, Gavin Wilkinson, Scott Benedetti, Jesus Ochoa, Brian Winters, Michael O'Neill, Keith Costigan, Darren Sawatzky, Mark Baena, Greg Howes
Flash: Matt Hall, PJ Brown, Adam Maurer, Jay Martinez, Nate Hetherington, Simon Levitt, Carlos Calderson, Hugo Llamas, Miguel Suazo, Miguel Luna, Chugger Adair
(Substitutions to be added)
Jesus Ochoa chasing down Miguel Soazo

Matt Napoleon makes a point-blank save in front of the Timbers net

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