– Portland Timbers midfielder Andrew Gregor scored two goals in his return to the Timbers and Luke Kreamalmeyer added another to lead the Timbers to a 3-1 season-opening victory in front of 7,805 at PGE Park on Saturday night.
The Timbers (1-0-0, 3pts) controlled the run of play in their first match of the season helping first-year head coach Gavin Wilkinson earn a victory in his professional debut. Puerto Rico (1-1-0. 3pts) suffered their first loss of the 2007 season and remain winless at PGE Park.
Gregor, a Beaverton, Ore., native, got the scoring underway early, finding the back of the net in the second minute. His left-footed free kick from 35 yards bent through a crowded penalty area and bounced inside the far post just beyond the reach of Puerto Rico goalkeeper and former Timber Josh Saunders.
Gregor’s strike was the only goal of the first half, but had the opportunity to put in another with a penalty kick in the 18th minute. Fouled in the box, Gregor’s shot from the penalty spot was denied by Saunders diving to his left. In the 27th minute, Timbers midfielder Troy Ready beat Saunders, who came off his line to cut the angle, but his shot toward an open net rattled off the near post from a tight angle.
Portland out-shot Puerto Rico 10-2 and had six corners in the first half.
Two minutes into the second half, Gregor had another opportunity to convert a penalty kick as Thompson was taken down in the box. With Saunders diving to the right, Gregor’s strike pinged off the left upper corner of the frame.
Portland doubled its lead in the 53rd minute when the Puerto Rico defense mishandled Scot Thompson’s cross into the box to Ready on the far post. Ready’s volley from 14 yards out was deflected by Saunders and the rebound found Kreamalmeyer as he headed home his first goal of 2007. The assist was Ready’s first as a professional.
The Islanders found some success pushing forward in the second half, stringing together short passes and forced Timbers goalkeeper Josh Wicks to make four saves. In the 83rd minute, trailing 0-2, Puerto Rico forward Alberto Zapata snuck behind a Timbers offside trap and chipped in his first goal of the season over the head of Wicks. Forward Alen Marcina was credited with his second assist of the season.
Three minutes later, Gregor answered back with another long free kick. Bending a 25-yard around a four-man wall, Gregor drilled the ball just inside the near post for his second goal of the night.
Wicks and Saunders finished with four saves apiece. In a physical game, there were thirty-seven fouls between the two sides and head referee Yader Reyes issued seven cautions - four for Portland and three for Puerto Rico.
The Timbers travel north to face the Seattle Sounders in their next match at Qwest Field on May 5th
. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The match can be heard live on www.portlandtimbers.com
with a video webcast available on www.usllive.com
Game Notes: Portland is now 3-4-0 in season openers, dating back to 2001…With the victory, the Timbers are now 4-2-0 all-time against Puerto Rico, including a perfect 4-0-0 against the Islanders at PGE Park. Gregor’s two goals tonight equaled his 2004 total in 13 games with the Timbers.
Portland – GK Josh Wicks, D Scot Thompson, D Lee Morrison, D Leonard Griffin, M Luke Kreamalmeyer (Tom Poltl 88) , M Andrew Gregor, M Cameron Knowles, M Neil Dombrowski, M Troy Ready (Kiki Lara 85), F Luc Harrington (David Hague 75), F Chris Bagley (Bryan Jordan 88).
Puerto Rico – GK Josh Saunders, D Raphel Ortiz, D Marco Velez, D Mauricio Segovia, D Alexis Rivera (Alberto Delgado 85), M Edwin Miranda, M Gustavo Avila (Alberto Zapata 26), M Noah Delgado (Petter Villegas 63), M Alejandro Gonzalez, F Victor Herrera, F Alen Marcina.