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Timbers Reward their Fans with Thursday Night Victory

The Portland Timbers, playing their last regular season Division 2 game at PGE Park, rewarded their fans with a 1-0 win over the Puerto Rico Islanders Thursday night.    The Timbers ended the Islanders nine-game unbeaten streak in front of a weeknight crowd of over 15,400, and upped their season mark to 11-7-8.  They strengthened their hold on third place in the USL Conference over the Islanders, who are now 8-8-8 and rank 6th in the USSF D2 playoff table with six games to play.

It’s probably quite fitting on a night where the Timbers set a new modern franchise record for attendance (over 155,000 in 2010) and welcomed their millionth fan since 2001 through the gates that the game’s only goal would be scored by USSF D2 leading scorer Ryan Pore.  The slender midfielder found that his fourth shot of the evening was a charm as he beat Islanders’ goalkeeper Bill Gaudette with a diving header following some good work by rookie forward Doug DeMartin, who was credited with the assist.  The 83rd minute goal was Pore’s 15th goal in 26 league games, and along with his four assists places him eight points ahead of USSF D2 number two scorer Eddie Johnson of the Austin Aztex.  Pore has had an amazing season, and until the recent emergence of forward Bright Dike as a scoring threat, has pretty much carried the scoring load for Portland singlehandedly.

On this special night in Timbers’ history, Gavin Wilkinson’s defense showed up strong.  They held the Islanders to only four shots, all by Jamaican forward Nicholas Addlery.  Goalkeeper Steve Cronin only had to make one save in earning his tenth shutout of the season.  The Islanders did equal the Timbers in corner kicks, though, with each team gaining four. 

Give the Islanders credit for holding the Timbers scoreless for more than 80 minutes in front of 15,000 partisan fans, but this had to be the Timbers night.  Congratulations to the franchise as they move into MLS next season — Divsion 2 soccer will certainly be poorer losing Portland and Vancouver next season and Montreal in 2012.  Hopefully Colin Clarke’s Islanders will continue to be a part of the Division 2 landscape for next season, whatever that landscape might turn out to be.  The Islanders have represented Puerto Rico and Division 2 soccer well over their history.

The Islanders will be fired up to get a result Sunday night in Vancouver.  Portland finishes its season on the road, with the first stop being Carolina on Saturday September 11 as the Timbers try to extend their six game unbeaten streak. 

Notes:  Timbers’ defender Steve Purdy was injured in the 9th minute of the contest and was replaced by Scott Thompson.  Timbers’  recently acquired 19 year-old Ghanian midfielder Khalif Alhassan made his second appearance for the Timbers.  Another newcomer, former Red Bulls defender Kevin Goldthwaite, made the Timbers bench but did not see action.  The Islanders resume CONCACAF Champions League action in Mexico against Toluca on September 15.

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

Puerto Rico Starting Lineup:  Gaudette, Villaroel, Velez, Martnez, Horst, Telesford, Salem, Daniel, Hansen, Foley, Addlery  Subs Used:  Fana, Gbandi, Jagdeosingh

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