Preseason Notebook: Timbers down Pilots in exhibition

Today in Portland: The Portland Timbers took on the University of Portland Pilots in an exhibition match at the University of Portland Saturday.

The 90-minute match was to serve as a final tune-up for the Timbers before they open the 2006 USL First Division season next Saturday at the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Timbers were unlucky not to score just fifteen minutes in when a brilliant cross from Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar found Drew McAthy at the far post, but McAthy headed the ball just wide. Another cross to McAthy in the 20th minute, this time from Timbers defender Michael Nsien, was also headed wide.

The third cross would prove to be a charm when Alcaraz-Cuellar found some space along the wing, sending a perfect cross over the box to Luke Kreamalmeyer, who was waiting unmarked at the far post. He took the cross and calmly slotted the ball home to put the Timbers in front just seconds before the half-time whistle.

Troy Ready was brought on after the half and the Timbers switched to a 4-5-1 formation, with Tom Poltl dropping into a defensive midfield role. The formation paid off in the 52nd minute when McAthy's shot was parried by the keeper directly into the path of Edwin Miranda, who buried a blistering shot from the edge of the area for a 2-0 advantage.

The final goal for the Timbers came when a Pilots defender accidentally cleared the ball to Alcaraz-Cuellar, who crossed it to the feet of the on-rushing McAthy, and the former UCSB striker slotted the ball beneath the diving keeper.

The Timbers' defense was solid all game, allowing only a few brief chances for the Pilots, who never really troubled Timbers keeper Josh Saunders.

Lineup: Saunders; Nsien (Randolph 82'), Morrison, Thompson, Goodfellow; Miranda, Poltl, Kreamalmeyer, Alcaraz-Cuellar; McAthy, Bullen (Ready, 45').

Treatment Table: Defender Josh Brown was present at the exhibition but did not dress, as he is still nursing a small injury that should see him return to the first team any day.

Striker Byron Alvarez is still recovering from a leg injury suffered during the off-season, but he also hopes to be back to sufficient fitness to resume training for the first team this week.

Get It Started: The Timbers open the home portion of their season by playing host to the Vancouver Whitecaps at PGE Park on Friday, May 5. A variety of season ticket options are available by calling the Timbers ticket office at (503) 553-5555. For detailed ticket information, go to www.portlandtimbers.com.