48' - Portland: Gregory Howes (Brent Sancho)
71' - Portland: Gregory Howes (Michael O'Neill)
79' - Portland: Darren Sawatzky (Greg Howes)
89' - San Diego: Chugger Adair
90' - San Diego: Carlos Morales (Hugo Alceraz)
Greg Howes broke out of his scoring slump with a vengeance, scoring twice, then getting an assist on the third goal by Darren Sawatzky as the Timbers put in three second-half goals after a score less first half, then held on for a 3-2 win after the San Diego Flash put in two late goals. Chugger Adair and Carlos Morales scored the late goals for the Flash in front of a crowd of 7,271 at PGE Park in Portland.
The Timbers had been in a scoring slump recently, having only put in two goals in the past three games. The Timbers seemed determined to change this, as they came out with a more aggressive style than they have played in awhile. Early on, the Timbers were sending many long balls along the wing, attempting to loosen up the San Diego defense. Although these early long balls led to no shots on goal, they opened up the middle for the Timbers to make a few good runs afterwards. In the 12th minute, A pass from Darren Sawatzky found Mark Baena flying through the middle, and only a slight hesitation in getting control of the ball allowed the San Diego defense to catch up and break up the chance.
In the 18th minute, Sawatzky found Greg Howes on a similar run down the middle, but Howes was unable to control the ball well enough from the first touch, and San Diego goalkeeper Tim Gorman covered just before Howes got to the ball. The first really good scoring chance for the Timbers came in the 21st minute when Scott Benedetti played a cross from the left side, which Baena played back to Howes, who was charging from the top of the box. Howes hit a very hard shot, which Gorman saved well on a high shot. Two minutes later, it was the Flash who had a good scoring opportunity when Hugo Alceraz moved across the top of the box, avoiding two Timbers defenders before shooting just wide right from 18 yards.
In the 31st minute, Alceraz made a similar move across the top of the box, before dropping a pass to Brian O'Conner, who also shot wide right from the top of the box. One minute later, the visitors nearly took the lead off a Miguel Luna corner kick, which Chugger Adair headed down, but Timbers goalkeeper Matt Napoleon made a fine reaction save. The Flash were now pushing the pace of the match, and a minute later, an O'Conner high ball from 30 yards out nearly connected with Thiago Martins in full stride, but his attempt to jump for the header only managed a glancing shot, which Napoleon covered easily. Neither team threatened again, and the half ended scoreless.
The Timbers regained their attacking form in the second half, and nearly tallied just two minutes in when a Michael O'Neill corner kick found it's way to Howes, whose shot towards the right side of the net was tipped just wide by Gorman. But just one minute later, the attacking style finally paid off. Brent Sancho had been pushing forward all night long from his right defensive position, often switching position with Sawatzky. In the 48th minute, his cross from 30 yards into the box found it's way to the foot of Howes, who was making a run down the left side. Howes controlled the ball quickly, then chipped a shot past a charging Gorman, but the Flash keeper was unable to stop the shot and it found it's way into the net for Howes' first goal since his Timbers debut, and a 1-0 Portland lead.
But it was the Flash who had the next good scoring chance, in the 58th minute. Martins made a good run to the top of the box, and let go a hard shot to the right side of the net that Napoleon was able to stop but not control. Adair was in position to put the ball into a seemingly empty net as Napoleon struggled to recover, but Adair attempted a hard shot instead of just tapping into the net, and his shot went into the side netting on its own. In the 61st minute, the Timbers once again were on the doorstep when Benedetti received a pass inside the box, and his attempt to turn and shoot deflected back to Sawatzky, who shot from 10 yards out, which was kept out of the net only by a fine diving save by Gorman.
But in the 71st minute, a quick strike doubled the Timbers lead. After Sawatzky had been fouled just outside the box to the Flash goalkeeper's left, an O'Neill free kick curved and dipped perfectly to Howes, who was parked directly in the middle of the box, and Howes flicked the ball on with his head, ending up just inside the left post and putting the Timbers up 2-0. But the Flash clearly weren't going to go quietly, and just one minute later, San Diego's Luna found himself at the top of the box again, a position that the Flash seemed to be able to get the ball to all night. As many times before, the San Diego strike was towards the right side of the goal, and once again Napoleon was up to the challenge, making a fine diving save.
Howes appeared ready to complete the hat trick in the 75th minute when a Baena through ball found Howes on a run down the left side, but he was unable to control the ball until he was near to the endline, and his attempted chip was cleared easily. Howes once again was ready to complete the hat trick just four minutes later, this time on a run down the right side. But as he neared the goal, he trapped the ball, looked for a trailer, then dropped the ball to Sawatzky, who stopped the ball, then fired a rocket to the top left corner of the net from 18 yards out, giving the Timbers a 3-0 lead and a bonus point for the effort.
The Flash had been unable to threaten much during the second half, but during the last ten minutes of the match, the Flash were constantly attempting to play long balls into the Timbers zone, usually resulting in easy clearances, or easy saves for Napoleon. But in the last five minutes, after making a few substitutions, their continuous pressing finally paid off. In the 89th minute, a low shot from near the top of the box was saved by Napoleon, but the ball popped up after the Timbers keeper was unable to control the save, and Adair was on the doorstep again, heading the ball into the empty net to pull the Flash one goal closer. Three or four minutes into stoppage time, the Flash again found the net when Alceraz passed to Carlos Morales, who was making a run down the left side. Napoleon was in position to make the save, but the ball ricocheted into the goal, quieting the crowd a bit as the Flash pulled within 3-2, but it was too little too late, and after another minute of stoppage time, the match ended, and the Timbers moved past the Flash into second place in the Western Conference, just three points behind the first place Milwaukee Rampage, but having played one less match than the conference leaders.
Shots: Timbers 8, Flash 13
Saves: Timbers 4, Flash 3
Fouls: Timbers 15, Flash 16
Offsides: Timbers 9, Flash 1
Corners: Timbers 5, Flash 8
Timbers 1 (Winters 58' (yellow, tackle from behind))
Flash 1 (Martins 14' (yellow, dissent))
Portland: Matt Napoleon, Gavin Wilkinson, Brent Sancho, Matt Chulis, Jeff Clarke, Brian Winters, Michael O'Neill, Scott Benedetti, Darren Sawatzky, Mark Baena (Tony McPeak 85'), Greg Howes
San Diego: Tim Gorman, Jerome Watson, Adam Murer, Brian O'Conner, Emmanuel Ayim, Carlos Calderson (Carlos Morales 85'), Hugo Llamas, Miguel Luna, Hugo Alceraz, Chugger Adair, Thiago Martins (Javier Bustos 83')