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Suzuki leads Portland to 2-0 win over Seattle

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Sounders fall to Timbers 2-0
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Suzuki is 'world-class' with his first U.S. goal

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Timbers take round one

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The 107 Report April 26 2008

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Match 3: Portland Timbers 2-0 Seattle Sounders
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The last time the Portland Timbers started with three wins…

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Match Review: Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Flounders 4/26

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APRIL 26, 2008
Timbers shut out Seattle 2-0 on goals by Suzuki and Guante
CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL OF THE LARGE PICTURES FROM THIS GAME ON ONE PAGE

The Portland Timbers continued a strong start to the 2008 season, as an early goal by Takayuki Suzuki set the tone, and a late goal by Miguel Guante put the match away as the Timbers defeated Seattle 2-0 in front of 9,894 on a beautiful evening at Portland’s PGE Park.

After neither team produced a serious threat in the first six minutes, a steal by Portland’s Scot Thompson set up a nice long ball from Chris Brown to Takayuki Suzuki, who faced a 1-on-5 with the Seattle defense, but cut back across the top of the box and found just enough space to let go a blast from 20 yards out, but it was a spectacular shot that dipped just under the crossbar, and on the first shot of the game, the Timbers had taken a 1-0 lead.

The next good chance would also be for the Timbers, 10 minutes later, when Suzuki dummied an Andrew Gregor corner kick and Brown hit a hard shot from 25 yards out that was blocked by the Seattle defense, then charged in for a rebound from 18 yards out that was stopped by the Seattle keeper.

Seattle would get a few better scoring chances, but could not get any shots that were threatening the Timbers goal until the 24th minute, when Sebastian LeToux kept possession on a nice run into the Timbers box, but his shot from eight yards out was blocked wide of the post.

In the 28th minute, Seattle would have a great chance when a ball from Kevin Sakuda had Josh Gardner making a nice run into the box down the left side, but he found himself a bit too deep into the box his tight-angled shot was across the goal mouth and wide of the right post.

The visitors had an even better chance to level the score in the 33rd minute when a Leighton O’Brien corner found Roger Levesque open at the near post, just five yards out, but his open header was over the crossbar. The home side nearly doubled their lead less than a minute later when Shaun Higgins was able to push forward near the Seattle box without much opposition, then put the ball on his left foot and his dipping shot from 20 yards out required a tip save over the bar by Seattle goalkeeper Chris Eylander.

Seattle continued to control much of the possession, but found little in the way of quality chances, but most of Seattle’s strategy seemed to focus on forcing mistakes by the Portland defense or goalkeeper Ray Burse by playing long balls from the side or midfield towards the penalty spot, but the Timbers defense were able to meet every challenge and clear easily, happy to let Seattle keep possession.

The Timbers would get one more good chance just before the half when a Suzuki cross found Brown’s head from about five yards out, but his shot was right at Eylander and easily saved, and the half would end with the Timbers up 1-0.

The home side would have better possession to start the second half, but neither team seriously threatened to score until the 66th minute, when a free kick by Portland’s Gregor was controlled by Suzuki deep in the Seattle box, and he was able to turn and shoot but the point-blank shot was saved by Eylander.

Shortly afterwards, Eylander’s attempt to delay the kick back upfield nearly cost Seattle as a charging Brown was able to deflect the clearance, but the Timbers were not able to recover the ball quickly enough to put a shot into the open net. But what had been a tight first 20 minutes of the second half were definitely opening up on both sides.

Just a minute later, Sakuda made a nice overlapping run for Seattle off a pass from Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, and made a nice cross to an open Zach Scott, whose header from only five yards out was smothered by Burse, who quickly covered the loose ball and the chance was ended.

Seattle was pushing more players forward to look for the equalizer, which allowed some long balls to be run onto by Suzuki, and this would pay off for the Timbers in the 77th minute when Suzuki was able to bring the ball down the ride side, and find Miguel Guante, who two Seattle defenders left alone along enough to measure up a shot, and his low blast slipped under Eylander to put the Timbers up 2-0.

Seattle would push everything forward, and would keep possession for much of the final ten minutes, and would seem to target the Portland keeper by crashing into him often, looking for a loose ball to knock in for a goal. In the 81st minute, a play like this would result in a loose ball just in front of the Timbers goal that O’Brien would blast off Thompson’s head and out of bounds. Off the ensuing corner kick, there were lots of Seattle bodies crashing into Burse again, but he was able to keep possession this time.

Two minutes later, Seattle’s LeToux made a nice tight turn at the top of the box, and hit a high blast that Burse made a spectacular diving save on to keep the clean sheet. One minute later, Burse had to come up big again as LeToux tracked down a through ball coming into the Timbers box, and the Timbers keeper charged off his line to smother the shot.

For the final five minutes of regulation play, and into stoppage time, the visitors seemed satisfied to make long passes to the top of the Timbers box, looking for a deflection or a misplay, but the Timbers defense and goalkeeping were up to the task, and after the two chances for LeToux around the 84th minute, Seattle did not seriously threaten again, and at the final whistle, the Timbers had a 2-0 win and a 3-0 start to the 2008 season.

Ray Burse had five saves for the Timbers in the winning effort, while Chris Eylander had six saves for Seattle.

PHOTO GALLERY
(Click each pic to get a much larger picture)

Starting lineups

The Timbers Army before kickoff

Chris Brown nearly blocks a Chris Eylander clearance

Takayuki Suzuki shoots..

..and scores on this shot to put the Timbers up 1-0..

..and celebrates with his Timbers teammates

The Timbers Army celebrates the goal

And Joey Webber saws off the log slice

Suzuki goes up and over Kevin Sakuda

Josh Gardner shoots..

..and narrowly misses the far post

Tom Poltl marks Leighton O'Brien

Ray Burse goes high to secure the cross

Roger Levesque misses the point-blank chance

Action on a corner kick in front of the Seattle goal

Leonard Griffin holding tight to Levesque

Taylor Graham with a tight hold on Suzuki

Andrew Gregor marking Kenji Treschuk

Sebastian LeToux goes down

Miguel Guante prepares to shoot..

..and blasts the shot in past Chris Eylander to put the Timbers up 2-0

Bryan Little goes in hard on John Fishbaugher

Bruse blocks LeToux from point-blank range

Suzuki lifts his log slice proudly after the match..

..as does Miguel Guante

Suzuki in a post-match interview

Gavin Wilkinson discusses the big win

Match report and all photos by Allison Andrews E-mail at

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