Timbers fall in season opener

BURNABY, B.C. – Joe Gjertsen scored a breakaway goal in the 17th minute to lead the Vancouver Whitecaps past the Portland Timbers in the opening game of the 2006 USL First Division season before 5,722 at Swangard Stadium.

Gjertsen struck when 2005 league MVP Jason Jordan collected a loose ball near midfield. Jordan played a neat ball through to Gjertsen, who beat Timbers defender Scot Thompson and slotted the ball past goalkeeper Josh Saunders.

Gjertsen followed his goal with another close chance less than a minute later, when his header, from a cross, missed just wide.

Portland’s Drew McAthy had a pair of opportunities in the second half to level the score, getting a head on crosses from midfielder Luke Kreamalmeyer, but the efforts were just off target both times.

The Whitecaps dominated possession for the first 30 minutes, with several chances just missing the mark.

Jordan broke past Saunders in the sixth minute, but the Timbers keeper was just able to get a finger on the ball and steer it wide and out for a corner.

The loss takes the Timbers’ all-time regular-season record in Vancouver to 1-10-1.

The Timbers will take a 12-day break from action before opening their home schedule at PGE Park on Friday, May 5 against the Whitecaps. Kickoff is 7 p.m. (Pacific).

”This was our first true test, and I think that we deserve a passing grade. We came in here and played hard, and we could have easily come away with a point if some balls would have fallen our way. I’m very proud of this team because when we went down a goal, they didn’t collapse; didn’t give up. They stayed disciplined and held together. This game answered a lot of questions for us, we’ll make some changes and look forward to playing them on our ground in a few weeks.”

TIMBERS NOTES: The Timbers did not get a shot on target until McAthy’s header in the 54th minute … Portland has not beaten the Whitecaps since May 23, 2004 … Josh Saunders, Scot Thompson, Lee Morrison, Tom Poltl, Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar and Edwin Miranda were also in last year’s season-opening starting line-up.

SCORING SUMMARY: VAN Gjertsen 17’ (Jordan)

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: VAN Klein YC (74’); POR Ready YC (45’), Alcaraz-Cuellar (76’)

LINEUPS: VANCOUVER (1-0-0) J. Wicks GK, S. Kindel D, S. Klein D, A. Cann D, G. Lyall D, M. Nash M (Noreiga, 89’), J. Clarke M, J. Alberts M (Morris, 45’), A. Valente M (Donatelli, 62’), J. Gjertsen F (Testo, 77’), J. Jordan F (Motondo, 86’).
PORTLAND (0-1-0) J. Saunders GK, J. Goodfellow D, S. Thompson D, L. Morrison D, M. Nsien M, T. Poltl M, H. Alcaraz-Cuellar M, E. Miranda M, L. Kreamalmeyer M, S. Iñiguez F (Ready 25’)(Bullen 75’), D. McAthy F.