BREMERTON, Wash. – The Portland Timbers U-23s defeated the Hollywood United Hitmen 2-1 in the Premier Development League’s Western Conference semifinals on Saturday at Bremerton Memorial Stadium. With the win, the Timbers U-23s advance to the Western Conference championship match Sunday.
The Northwest Division-champion Timbers U-23s will face the winner of the conference semifinal matchup between the Kitsap Pumas and the defending-PDL champion Ventura County Fusion on Sunday in the conference title match at Bremerton Memorial Stadium at 5 p.m.
After going down a goal early in the contest, the Timbers U-23s rallied back, scoring twice in the second half. Midfielder Freddie Braun scored the equalizer and midfielder Steven Evans provided the eventual game-winner just three minutes apart to help the Timbers U-23s climb out of the deficit and secure the victory.
Braun recorded a goal and an assist, Evans scored his second goal of the season and defender Graham Dugoni logged an assist to lead the Timbers U-23s, who finished the regular season with a perfect 16-0-0 record, to its first Western Conference championship appearance.
The Hitmen, from the PDL’s Southwest Division, claimed the lead early on a strike from forward Brent Whitfield in the fourth minute. Whitfield’s goal capped a series of sharp early passes from Hollywood United and forced the Timbers U-23s to chase.
The Timbers U-23s pulled one back in the 63rd minute on Braun’s sixth goal of the season. Braun received a pass from Dugoni off of a corner kick. Braun then blasted home the equalizer to even the score at 1-1.
Three minutes later, Braun set up Evans for the go-ahead strike. Braun flipped the ball back to Evans inside the offensive third, and Evans crushed a shot from 25 yards out that froze the goalkeeper and landed in the back of the net to put the Timbers U-23s on top 2-1.
Late in the match, Dugoni was issued his second yellow card of the match and was sent off. The Timbers U-23s finished the final minutes of the contest a man short, but Dugoni will not be available to play in the conference championship match due to a one-game, league-imposed suspension for his ejection.
Notes: The goal scored by Hollywood United marked just the second time the Timbers U-23s trailed a match in 2010; it was only the seventh goal allowed the Portland backline this season … The Timbers U-23s have scored 55 goals this season … The Hitmen were the No. 2 seed from the Southwest Division … Saturday’s match marked the first time the Timbers U-23s had faced an opponent outside of the Northwest Division.