Timbers open 2005 with a bang

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers kicked off the 2005 season in the USL First Division with a 3-0 shutout win over the visiting Toronto Lynx before 5,275 fans on Saturday evening at PGE Park.

All three Portland goals came in the second half on strikes from Brian Winters, Edwin Miranda and Byron Alvarez.

The Timbers’ first goal of the year came from the unlikeliest of sources in the 50th minute of play, when Winters got a foot on the ball at close range and ricocheted it off Toronto’s Niels Dekker and into the back of the net.

It was Winters’ first goal in four seasons with the Timbers (1-0-0, 3pts).

Miranda tacked on an insurance goal in the 59th, taking a ball from Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar and punching it past Toronto goalkeeper Theo Zagar for the two-nil advantage.

The third and final goal of the night arrived off the head of Alvarez, who played a well-placed feed from Memo Arzate off the right post, onto the left post and finally into the back of the net in the 84th.

Alvarez’ goal, his 29th as a Timber, moves him into a tie for the top spot among USL career goal-scoring leaders with McKinley Tennyson.

Portland goalkeeper Josh Saunders collected his first clean sheet of the year with the shutout win and his 13th in three seasons.

A scoreless first half saw few scoring opportunities for either club, but the Timbers got over opening night jitters late in the period and began cracking the Toronto (0-1-0, 0pts) back line with several good looks as a prelude to a three-goal second half.

On tap for the Timbers is a home match against the Minnesota Thunder at PGE Park on Friday, April 29. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

TIMBERS NOTES: Timbers majority owner Abe Alizadeh flew in for the season opener and was presented with a scarf from the Timbers Army in Section 107 … the Timbers are now 2-3 in season openers, winning their last two … Sunderland AFC, which comes to PGE Park on July 23 to take on the Timbers, was promoted to the English Premier League today with a 2-1 win over Leicester.

SCORING SUMMARY: Winters, 50’ (UA); Miranda, 59’ (Alcaraz-Cuellar); Alvarez, 84’ (Arzate).

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: TOR Munthali, YC (87’); POR Alcaraz-Cuellar, YC (88’).

LINEUPS: TORONTO (0-1-0) Zagar GK, Munthali D, Arango D, Piette D (Simpson 52’), Mayard D, Mattacchione M, Dodds M (El Tabe 77’), Dekker M, Fraser F, Gerba F, Hart F; PORTLAND (1-0-0) J. Saunders GK, Morrison D, Wilkinson D, Thompson D (Henning 75’), Alcaraz-Cuellar M, Heinzen M, Poltl M, Miranda M, Winters M (Arzate 67’), Benedetti F, Alvarez F.