Timbers and Thunder get defensive in 0-0 stalemate

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers and the Minnesota Thunder battled their way to a 0-0 tie through two overtimes before 6,287 Friday night at PGE Park.

The Timbers (17-7-3, 54pts), who lead the league with 56 goals on the year, were held scoreless for just the fifth time this season while coming away with their third scoreless draw in four A-League seasons.

It was the second time in as many games the Timbers and Thunder (12-9-6, 42pts) have tied, as Portland clinched the season series between the two clubs, 2-0-2.

Timbers goalkeeper Bayard Elfvin notched his second consecutive shutout with the draw.

Portland began to apply the pressure in the 20th minute when Byron Alvarez flicked the ball on to Alan Gordon, whose attempt was deflected out of play by Minnesota goalkeeper Joe Warren.

Elvin turned back the Thunder attack in the 22nd, punching a shot by Dustin Branan over the crossbar.

Minnesota rejected another Portland run just seconds later, as Gordon cracked a shot into the arms of Warren, who cradled the save.

In a second half nearly devoid of scoring opportunities for either side, the Timbers’ best chance presented itself in the 58th, when a header from Alvarez sailed high of its target.

Minnesota’s Godfrey Tenoff had a chance to win it in stoppage time of regulation, but his shot missed high above the crossbar.

The Timbers narrowly missed tallying the game-winning, “golden goal” in the closing minutes of the match when Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar’s cross spun off the head of Scott Benedetti and over the crossbar.

The Timbers play their final match of the regular season against Milwaukee this Sunday, Aug. 29 at PGE Park. Kickoff is 5 p.m.

Portland begins its bid for an A-League championship with a first-round conference semifinal match on Wednesday, Sept. 1 at PGE Park against an undermined opponent.

TIMBERS NOTES: Friday’s match featured post-game fireworks in honor of Oregon Youth Soccer Association Night … Sunday is Latino Heritage Night at PGE Park … playoff tickets are available for purchase at the PGE Park box office and at various Ticketmaster outlets in the Portland area … the match was broadcast nationally on FOX Sports World … in other A-League action, Milwaukee fell 4-0 to Vancouver, putting itself into a must-win scenario at Portland on Sunday … the lights at PGE Park went out in the 41st minute, necessitating a 15-minute break before the power was restored and the remainder of the first half was played out before adjourning to a five-minute half.

SCORING SUMMARY: None.

PENALTY SUMMARY: MIN Castellanos, YC (38’).

LINEUPS: MINNESOTA (12-9-6) Warren GK, Branan D, Roberts D (Brunt 41’), Jaquette D, Vorenkamp M, Tenoff M, Matteo M (Tarley 55’), Lara M, Alberts M, Ferruzzi F (Menyongar 60’), Castellanos F (Juarez 69’); PORTLAND (17-7-3) Elfvin GK, Morrison D, Wilkinson D, Thompson D, Alcaraz-Cuellar M, Winters M, Bengard M, Gregor M (Benedetti 100’), Miranda M (Arzate 90’), Alvarez F (Afash 81’), Gordon F (Antoniuk 81’).