Timbers explode for six goals in shutout victory

PORTLAND, Ore. - Byron Alvarez scored three goals and added two assists, powering the Timbers to a 6-0 downing of the Edmonton Aviators before 3,576 fans Thursday evening at PGE Park.

For the Timbers, it was their largest margin of victory since joining the A-League in 2001 and tied for the most goals scored in a game in four seasons of play.

Alvarez notched his second hat trick as a Timber while pushing Portland to a season total of 22 goals, tops in the A-League.

The Aviators, who allowed just five goals through their previous six games, had that number surpassed by the Timbers’ six-goal output Thursday.

The Timbers (7-1-0, 21pts) caught a break in the 27th when Alvarez speared a header at the goalpost and Edmonton’s Chris Devlin knocked the rebound into the left side of his own goal, spotting the Timbers a 1-0 lead.

Alvarez ran onto a forward pass from Alex Bengard in the 44th minute, won the challenge from Edmonton goalkeeper Jose Luis Campi and flipped it up to Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, who found the net with ease.

Alan Gordon capped off the three-goal half just minutes later in stoppage time, taking a dish from Alvarez and booting it in from 20 yards out to make it 3-0.

It was Gordon’s league-leading 10th goal of the season.

The Timbers’ power surge picked up where it left off in the second half when Dan Antoniuk tallied his second goal of the year on a header in the 60th. Bengard was credited with the assist.

Alvarez collected his second goal of the evening in the 61st, knocking an unassisted goal into the right side of the net to hand the Timbers a 5-0 advantage.

Rounding out the hat trick in the 73rd minute, Alvarez took a clean pass from Aaron Heinzen, dribbled around several defenders and powered the ball past the ‘keeper for his third goal of the night and fifth of the season.

The Aviators (0-3-4, 4pts) had few chances to score against an energized Timbers defense, managing only three shots to the Timbers’ 13.

It was the second shutout of the season for Portland goalkeeper Josh Saunders, who made two saves on the night.

On tap for the Timbers is a home match against the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday night at 7 p.m.

TIMBERS NOTES: The Timbers came to terms with midfielder and Beaverton, Ore., native Andrew Gregor Thursday … Gregor entered the match in the 67th minute for Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar … Thursday was “Bark in the Park” night at PGE Park, a promotion allowing dogs into the stadium … the second issue of “Timbers Review”, the official magazine of the Portland Timbers, hit the stands Thursday and featured Josh Saunders on the cover … the first 1,000 fans in attendance at Saturday’s match against Vancouver will receive a complementary Timbers foot bag.

SCORING SUMMARY: Alvarez, 27’ (Winters); Alcaraz-Cuellar, 44’ (Alvarez); Gordon, 45’ (Alvarez); Antoniuk, 60’ (Bengard); Alvarez, 61’ (UA); Alvarez, 73’ (Heinzen).

PENALTY SUMMARY: EDM Campi, YC (44’); de Silva, YC (88’).

LINEUPS: EDMONTON (0-3-4) Campi GK, Lopresti D, Devlin D, Salinas D (Munoz 77’), Handsor M, Fraser M, Chin M, Dhaliwal, Lemire M (Kassaye 70’), Drummond F (de Silva 45’), Vignjevic F; PORTLAND (7-1-0) J. Saunders GK, Morrison D, Wilkinson D, Heinzen D (Henning 77’), Winters D, Benedetti M (Weis 81’), Bengard M, Alcaraz-Cuellar M (Gregor 67’), Sagare M (Cronkrite 85’), Gordon F (Antoniuk 45’), Alvarez F.