Timbers Blitzzed out of the US Open Cup

June 9, 2001
at PGE Park, Portland, Oregon

This B.J. McNicol free kick was headed in for the first Utah goal

32' - Utah: Adolfo Ovalle (B.J. McNicol)
49' - Portland: Darren Sawatzky
71' - Utah: Sterling Westcott
76' - Utah: Nasees Koubouras (B.J. McNicol)

The Portland Timbers entered Saturday's match with the D3 Utah Blitzz knowing they needed a win, as well as at least three goals, to have a chance to advance in the US Open Cup tournament. The Timbers could not deliver either as Utah beat the Timbers 3-1 in a match played before 4,676 at PGE Park.

Defender Brent Sancho

The Timbers had the first few good scoring chances, as they came out looking to get on the board early. Forward Mark Baena had a good scoring chance from 10 yards out in the 3rd minute, but it was well saved by Utah goalkeeper Mike Littman. In the 6th minute, a cross found Darren Sawatzky only five yards out on the left side, but his attempt to make a quick shot went well over the bar. In the 9th, midfielder Kevin Legg took a hard shot from less than 10 yards out, but it was deflected wide for a corner kick.

Utah had pushed forward a few times, but their shots had not been difficult saves for Matt Naploeon. The best chance the Timbers had was in the 24th minute when a diagonal through ball from Sawatzky found Michael O'Neill in the box, but his shot from 5 yards went into the outside netting. A minute later, the Timbers once again had a good chance as defender Brent Sancho fought off a few hard challenges to get a cross through the box, but Sawatzky could not quite get to the ball to deflect it into the net.

Darren Sawatzky, guarded by Glen Puckrin

The first really good chance the Blitzz had was in the 31st minute when a foul on Sancho gave the Blitzz a free kick from 20 yards out, angled to the left side. Utah's B.J. McNicol took the kick and curled it around the right side of the wall, and defender Adolfo Ovalle went into the box unmarked and headed to the right side of the net and past Napoleon to put the Blitzz up 1-0.

In the 32nd minute, Portland's Jesus Ochoa made a good cross into the box to Sawatzky, who attempted a bicycle kick, but could get nothing on the shot and Littman saved easily. After their goal, the Blitzz had moved into a bit more of a defensive posture, but they were finding more of their attackers free as the Timbers had begun to push forward. But the Timbers defense held up and the shots on Napoleon were from beyond 20 yards, and were easy saves. But the Timbers were unable to effectively attack against the packed-in defense, and the half ended with the Blitzz up 1-0.

Michael O'Neill prepared to block the attempted pass

The Timbers came out fired up in the 2nd half, and it didn't take long to equalize. In the 50th minute, a shot from Legg was saved by Littman, but he was unable to control and he and Legg ran into each other, leaving Sawatzky free to knock the ball into an empty net and tie the score. The Timbers continued to try to press forward to take the lead, but were having trouble penetrating the Utah defense, and the Blitzz defenders were managing to clear the ball well to the two attackers who stayed out near midfield, and as the Timbers were pushing their defenders forward as well, they were having to retreat to prevent several potential breakaways. In the 67th minute, a Baena pass from near midfield found Sawatzky on a breakaway from the left side, but though he succeeded in pulling Littman out of his goal, his attempt to chip the Utah keeper went well wide.

Brian Winters starts a give and go while Damian Munoz marks him

Although the Timbers strategy had not given Utah many good chances to score in the 2nd half, it was a risky strategy, and the next good chance Utah had resulted in an unexpected goal that appeared to deflate the Timbers. In the 72nd minute, defender Nasios Koubouras got into the box on a diagonal run, and took a hard shot that Napoleon saved, but he was unable to control the ball, and Sterling Wescott was in front of Napoleon, unmarked, and put the rebound in before the Timbers defense or Napoleon could react, put the visitors up 2-1.

The Blitzz put the game away only four minutes later when McNicol once again curled in a perfect free kick, but this time it was Koubouras who headed in the shot, once again to the right side of the goal. The Blitzz then packed in their defense even more, and the Timbers were unable to put a good shot on goal, and the Blitzz eliminated the Timbers with a 3-1 final.

Jesus Ochoa trying to block Joe McNab's cross

Though the Timbers are now out of the US Open Cup tournament, this match did not count towards their A-League standings, where the Timbers are still 5-2 and lead the Western Conference with 22 points.

Shots: Timbers 8, Blitzz 9
Saves: Timbers 3, Blitzz 2
Fouls: Timbers 13, Blitzz 21
Offsides: Timbers 4, Blitzz 3
Corners: Timbers 5, Blitzz 7

Ochoa and Puckrin chasing down a Utah long ball
Timbers 2 (Sancho 28' (yellow, collision), Chulis 75' (yellow, dissent))
Blitzz 2 (Munoz 35' (yellow, hard tackle), Puckrin 56' (yellow, hard tackle))

Portland: Matt Napoleon, Gavin Wilkinson, Brent Sancho, Matt Chulis, Jesus Ochoa, Scott Benedetti (Keith Costigan 80'), Brian Winters, Michael O’Neill (Greg Howes 57'), Kevin Legg (Vadim Tolstolutsky 84'), Darren Sawatzky, Mark Baena
Utah: Mike Littman, Adolfo Ovalle, John Cairel, Glen Puckrin, Nasios Koubouras, Sterling Wescott, Damian Munoz, B.J. McNicol, Rich Breza, Joe McNab (Jorge Estrada 35'), Alejandro Gutierrez
Gavin Wilkinson goes over McNicol for the header

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