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Portland Buries Crystal Palace Baltimore, Austin and Vancouver Draw

Over 15,000 fans at PGE Park enjoyed the Portland Timbers avenging an early season home loss to Crystal Palace Baltimore.   The Timbers turned the tables on CP Baltimore and beat them 3-0, while up the coast Austin and Vancouver did battle at Swangard Stadium, with the teams playing to a 2-2 draw.

Portland are unbeaten in their last five games and have held opponents to three goals in that span.  Coach Gavin Wilkinson’s team is getting hot just at the right time, and currently hold the fourth spot in the USSF D2 playoff picture with a 10-7-8 record.   Meanwhile, Crystal Palace Baltimore joins the other USSF D2 expansion teams in being unable to put a win streak together to get in the playoffs, and sit at 6-13-6, one point ahead of AC St. Louis in the NASL Conference with the St. Louisans having a game in hand.

USSF D2 leading scorer came through again for the Timbers Sunday evening, opening up the scoring with his 14th goal of the season off a long lobbed free kick by defender Mamadou Danso at the 15 minute mark.   Bright Dike, Portland’s exciting young forward, added to Portland’s lead late in the first half from a Johan Claesson pass to put the Timbers up 2-0 before intermission.

Dike added his seventh goal of the season eight minutes into the second half, as he beat CP Baltimore goalkeeper Evan Bush from the top of the box, with Pore getting the assist.  The Timbers had the advantage in shots taken, 18-8, over the outmanned CP Baltimore squad.  Timbers’ goalkeeper Steve Cronin only had to make one save in earning his eight clean sheet of the year.

At Swangard Stadium in Vancouver, over 5,200 fans witnessed two of the elite USSF D2 do battle in a seesaw contest that ended up in a 2-2 draw.  Vancouver retain their NASL Conference lead over the Carolina RailHawks by six points with a record of 9-3-13, while Austin are only two points behind first-place Rochester in the USL Conference with three games in hand. 

Since dropping a 2-1 game to the Timbers on July 22, the Whitecaps haven’t lost in their last seven games, although their league-leading 13 draws has kept their point total down.  Cornelius Stewart opened the game up with his second goal of the season in the 16th minute, assisted by captain Martin Nash.  The high-scoring Aztex countered right before halftime when forward Randi Patterson headed a cross from Lance Watson to defender Yohance Marshall, who’s header beat Vancouver goalkeeper Jay Nolly to equalize.

In the 52nd minute, the Whitecaps regained the lead as newcomer Ridge Mobulu scored a wondrous, tight angle goal, bulldozing his way near the Aztex goal and squeezing his shot into the net.  Mobulu was threatening throughout the contest, and did great work in scoring the goal, with Stewart getting the assist.  The Aztex, however, refused to sit back and kept pressuring the Whitecaps in this high-quality contest.   Eddie Johnson, USSF D2’s second leading goalscorer who started the game on the bench, came in and knocked a header past Nolly in the 80th minute, with Leonard Griffin credited with an assist. 

The Aztex gained a point without the presence of defender Jay Needham and midfielders Lawrence Olum and Yordany Alvarez.  Additionally, Coach Adrian Heath had to sit out the match due to the suspension he picked up Thursday night in Portland.  Still, it was a positive result for the Aztex, who, for all their offensive talent, have not been a good comeback team, amasssing a 0-19-1 record when behind at the 75 minute mark over the last two seasons before Sunday’s game.  The Aztex get two points from their Northwest trip, and have only lost once in their last eleven games.

The Portland Timbers host the Puerto Rico Islanders Thursday night, while CP Baltimore travel to Carolina in a Friday evening contest.The Aztex return home for a contest with NSC Minnesota next Saturday night.  Coach Teitur Thordarson’s new-look Whitecaps play host to the Islanders next Sunday.

Miami FC played to a 1-1 draw with FC Edmonton Saturday as FC Edmonton ended its exhibition season in preparation for 2011 action.  

Portland Starting Lineup:  Cronin, Purdy, Kirk, Keel, Danso,Savage, Pore, McManus, Claesson, Dike, DeMartin  Subs Used:  Suzuki, Muhamadu, Thompson, Alhassan

CP Baltimore Starting Lineup:  Bush, Veeder, Robson, Pejic, Nishimura, Marshall, Lader, Fusilier, Yoshitake, Neto, Brooks  Subs Used:  Teixeira, Mbutu, Bumbut, Sanchez, Healey

Vancouver Starting Lineup:  Nolly, Tsiskaridze, Knight, Hirano, Bellisomo, Wagner,Nash, Dunfield, Davies, Stewart, Mobulu  Subs Used:  Forko, Arnoux, Williams, Gage, Elliot

Austin Starting Lineup:  Gallardo, Sakuda, Marshall, L. Griffin, Brill, Worthen, L.Watson, Callahan, Allen, J.Watson, Patterson  Subs Used:  M.Griffin, Silva, Johnson

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