Seattle jumps to one-goal advantage in playoff series with Timbers

PORTLAND, Ore. - Roger Levesque tallied early and the Seattle Sounders hung on to defeat the Portland Timbers 1-0 before 5,667 Friday night at PGE Park, taking a one-goal lead into the second and final leg of the two-game, aggregate-goal series.

”We need to be more quality around the penalty area,” Timbers head coach Bobby Howe said. “The game was very even, and it could have easily been 1-0, Timbers.”

The second match kicks off Sunday at 7 p.m. at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash., and will be nationally televised on Fox Soccer Channel. In the Portland area, the game can be seen live on Comcast Digital Cable channel 401.

Just two minutes into the match, Seattle hit for the game’s only goal on a throw-in by Zach Scott to an unmarked Levesque, who headed it in for the strike. Timbers goalkeeper Josh Saunders failed to deflect the well-placed header as the ball snuck inside the far post.

The goal mirrored the start of last season’s first-round series between the rivals when Levesque struck first for Seattle in Game 1 at PGE Park, a series that Portland eventually lost, 3-2.

Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar nearly finished a free kick when he caught Seattle goalkeeper Preston Burpo asleep in goal at the 42nd mark, and Byron Alvarez sent an open shot in the box just over the crossbar in the 44th, marking the Timbers’ best chances to tally in the first half.

In the second half, Edwin Miranda kept the pressure on in the 47th, but Billy Sleeth deflected his one-timed shot wide.

Fadi Afash, a late substitute, nearly equalized with a right-footed flick over the head of Burpo that landed just beyond the crossbar in the 82nd.

The winner of the first-round series will play the defending-champion Montreal Impact in the semifinals.

TIMBERS NOTES: Vancouver drew Richmond 0-0 in Game One of the other first-round series … Jarrod Weis and Paul Conway sat out Friday’s contest with injuries … Saturday morning’s 8 a.m. training session is open to the media.

SCORING SUMMARY: Levesque, 2’ (Scott).

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: SEA Scott, YC (32’), Sleeth, YC (45’), O’Brien, YC (72’), Gregor, YC (90’); POR Miranda, YC (30’).

LINEUPS: SEATTLE Burpo GK, Scott D, Graham D, Sleeth D, Edwards D, Klaas M (Sagare 90’), Sakuda M, O’Brien M, Strum M (Jenkins 74’), Levesque F, Galindo F (Gregor 75’); PORTLAND Saunders GK, Goldthwaite D, Thompson D, Morrison D, Marcum D, Alcaraz-Cuellar M, Miranda M, Lines M, Winters M, Alvarez F (Afash 81’), Antoniuk F.