USL NEWS RELEASE
Saturday, August 7, 2010
PORTLAND, Ore. - It was a mouthwatering matchup. The top two seeds in the 2010 USL PDL Championship event met to determine history.
Would Thunder Bay repeat their 2008 title success? Or would it be the Portland Timbers U23 squad who would become the first team in PDL history to go undefeated through the regular season and the playoffs?
In the end, playing a man down against such opposition would be too much as the Chill would fall to Portland, 4-1, Saturday evening in the Rose City.
It was Portland’s diminutive midfielder Tracy Hasson who came out flying. Just two minutes in he made presence known with a curling free kick played into the box from the right that was cut out by the Chill defense.
The first 15 minutes opened up as expected with both teams feeling each other out. The game came to life in the 17th as a straight red was shown to Thunder Bay’s Rafa Heck for a high kick that sent Portland’s Freddie Braun to the floor. Thunder Bay were up against it playing a man down for the remainder of the game. Always a threat to the opposition, Gustavo Oliveira mastered the Thunder Bay midfield but the organized Timbers defense limited any serious threats throughout the first half.
Striving to help his team become the first in PDL history to go undefeated through the regular season and playoffs, it was Hasson that put the Timbers on the scoreboard 30 minutes in. Nice work down the left by Paul Ogunyemi left him clear of his defender. The cross from the left was met in the box by Hasson. Stephen Paterson could only get a touch but it wasn’t enough as the ball hit the inside netting putting the Timbers up, 1-0.
Strong all game it was the Timbers’ defense that let them down just before halftime. In the 45th minute Paterson’s long ball sent confusion across the Portland back line and it was Oliveira who sliced through two defenders to meet the looping ball. Still with a lot to do, Oliveira’s deft touch and flick over Timbers’ keeper Jacob Gleeson left the net unmanned. The PDL assist leader and All-Conference selection directed the ball into the net to put the ten-men Chill level at 1-1.
Only moments later in stoppage time it was again the craftiness of Hasson that almost put the Timbers back on top. Taking the ball on the right corner of the 18 his cut inside and shot across frame shaved the left post and ensured it would be all to play for in the second half.
If the first half was Hasson’s, the second half belonged to Rookie of the Year and League Most Valuable Player Brent Richards. Substitute Steven Evans’ 51st-minute free kick into the 18 from nearly 40 yards out brought Paterson out of his box. Richards’ lofted header left the Chill grounded as the ball looped into the back of the net.
Playing a man down and coming back once is tough as it is. Coming back again was too much to ask of the Chill. Pressing forward desperately for an equalizer the Timbers found acres of space in the midfield and final third. Only three minutes after putting the Timbers back in front Richards took the ball on the left of the Thunder Bay box and skipped inside only to have the shot blocked by the masses packing the area.
Not short of stars, it was Timbers’ All-Conference defenseman Ryan Kawoluk who provided the long ball that would help pad the Timbers lead 61 minutes in. Again pulling Paterson out of his area, Richards rose above the Chill players and neatly headed into the open net. Up 3-1 there was no looking back as the always vociferous Timbers Army upped the volume a notch.
Thunder Bay couldn’t find any room and each run into the Portland half was snuffed out. Fourteen minutes from time the Timbers iced the game as Sergio Vallalva’s foul on Jordan Crasilnek in the box left referee Laudani pointing at the spot. Braun’s cool finish down the middle put the Timbers up, 4-1. With the final whistle history was made as the Portland Timbers U23s ran the gauntlet untouched and ended the season 20-0-0.
Baton Rouge Capitals Defeat Reading United AC; Take Third Place
In the consolation match earlier in the day Baton Rouge downed Reading on penalty kicks after regulation ended tied at 2-2. Turning around to play only 15 hours after a tough loss the night before was never going to be easy for the Pennsylvania club. But Reading opened the game strong pushing forward and found their reward after only two minutes as Charles Sapong slotted home to put United up, 1-0.
The sides traded goals and Reading led, 2-1, before a 45th-minute goal by Baton Rouge’s PDL Defender of the Year Joe Tait locked the game at 2-2.,The second half showed tired legs as chances were few and far between. The final whistle took the game to PKs. Ben Callon’s cool finish from the spot ensured Baton Rouge third place in the 2010 PDL Championship.