MAY 1, 2004
Gordon scores early, Alvarez adds second for 2-1 win over Seattle
Timbers rookie Alan Gordon may have scored one of the fastest goals in a professional soccer player's career, scoring just 26 seconds into the Timbers opener tonight against Seattle, but it took a second half goal from Byron Alvarez to gain the winning margin as the Portland Timbers defeated the Seattle Sounders 2-1 in the opener for both teams on Saturday night at PGE Park, in front of a crowd of 6,891 fans. Kyle Smith had the lone goal for the Sounders, and the match also counted as US Open Cup Qualifier, and also gave the Timbers an early lead in the quest for the Cascadia Cup.
Most Timbers fans had not even settled into their seats when the home side jumped out to an early lead. Inside the first half minute, two new Timbers players hooked up when defender David Henning chipped a pass from near midfield to near the top of the box, where rookie forward Alan Gordon beat his defender and Seattle goalkeeper Preston Burpo to the ball, and Gordon was able to chip over Burpo from near the top of the box and into the net to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, the Sounders had their first good scoring opportunity when a low shot from Sounders forward Roger Levesque forced a save from Timbers goalkeeper Josh Saunders, but the rebound went free to Sounders forward Kyle Smith, forcing a second save near the opposite post a few seconds later.
In the sixth minute, the Timbers had a good chance to widen the lead when Gordon found himself open just inside the top of the Sounders box, but he mis-hit the shot and it made for an easy save by Burpo.
In the 18th minute, a Smith header forced a quick save by the Timbers keeper to tip the ball just over the bar.
For much of the night, play would be very physical with scuffles on the field, and several yellow cards were given to both sides. The next good opportunity for a goal for either team came in the 27th minute when a Alex Bengard pass set up Timbers forward Byron Alvarez near the top of the box, but his shot went just wide right. Another good header from Smith forced another save from Saunders, before the game got really chippy in the 42nd minute.
After a Seattle corner had been grabbed by Saunders, lots of pushing and shoving from both teams started near the top of the box, but a high elbow from Ryan Edwards to the face of Timbers defender Gavin Wilkinson really heated up the tempers, and also brought out a red card for Edwards, and the Sounders would play the rest of the night down a man. The half ended with the Timbers holding their 1-0 lead.
Neither team seriously threatened to score in the 2nd half until the 75th minute, when a Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar run down the right side produced a dangerous cross into the Sounders box, where Alvarez one-timed a shot that had no power on it, but was perfectly placed and it bounced just inside the right post to widen the Timbers lead to 2-0.
The Sounders took very little time to respond with what was in some ways a similar goal to Avarez's, when a Jason Farrell pass into the box was struck by Smith. And while the shot was not powerful, it was well placed, just inside the right post, and the Sounders had responded quickly to the Timbers goal by pulling back within 2-1.
Almost all of the scoring chances for the remainder of the match would be for the Sounders, with Marco Velez heading the ball just over the bar in the 81st minute, and Smith hitting a shot from just outside the box right at Saunders two minutes later.
In the 85th minute, Darren Sawatzky had a good look at the Timbers net from just outside the box, but his hard shot was a yard over the bar.
In stoppage time, the Sounders had several instances where the ball was free inside the Timbers box as they worked desperately for the equalizer, but the Timbers were able to clear every threat and hold on for a 2-1 season opening victory.
Josh Saunders had three saves for the Timbers, while Preston Burpo recorded 2 saves for the Sounders as both defenses played a tough, physical match. The second match of the US Open Cup qualifying will be May 15 in Seattle, which will also be the second of eight Cascadia Cup matches for the Timbers this season.