Timbers advance in playoffs with win over Vancouver

PORTLAND, Ore. - Midfielder Andrew Gregor scored the series-deciding goal as the Portland Timbers defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps 3-0 in front of 8,522 fans at PGE Park on Sunday night. With the win, the Timbers advance in the USL First Division playoffs with a 3-1 aggregate win over the defending-champion Whitecaps. 
 
Defender Justin Thompson recorded a goal and an assist to help Portland advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since the team's inaugural season in 2001. The Timbers are slated to meet the fourth-seeded Atlanta Silverbacks in the semifinal round. Portland will host the second match of the two-game, total-goals semifinals on Sunday at PGE Park. Kickoff time will be announced on Monday. 
 
Playoff tickets for the Portland's semifinal home match, starting at $12, are on sale at the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (503) 224-4400.
 
Gregor clinched the series in the in the 70th minute off a midfield feed from midfielder Shaun Higgins. From the top of the 18-yard box, Gregor bounced a left-footed shot towards the far post. Vancouver goalkeeper Matt Nelson misread the ball, diving early, as the hooking shot landed inside the far post for Gregor's ninth goal of the season.
 
The Timbers took the early 1-0 lead in the 27th minute on a goal by Thompson. A corner kick by Gregor sent the ball into the box and found defender Cameron Knowles on the back post. Knowles' header deflected off of the crossbar and on to the path of Thompson who headed in his second goal of the season just feet from the goal line.
 
Forward Jaime Ambriz, who entered the match in the seventh minute after forward Chris Bagley left with an injury, punctuated the evening with his second goal of the season in the 82nd minute. Waiting on the right post, Ambriz redirected a shot by Thompson that deflected off the crossbar.
 
Ambriz's goal capped an intense and offensive contest between the Northwest rivals. The Timbers outshot the Whitecaps 15-13 while Vancouver had a 10-7 advantage on corner kicks.
 
Vancouver entered Sunday's match with a 1-0 lead after scoring a late goal in the series opener on Friday. The Whitecaps, who won the 2006 USL First Division championship, finished the 2007 season with a record of 9-7-12 (39pts).
 
Notes: Forward Chris Bagley left the match after re-aggravating his abdominal strain which he first suffered in late July. His status for the remainder of the postseason is uncertain ... The Timbers improve to 4-8-0 in USL First Division playoff matches ... Head coach Gavin Wilkinson returned to the sidelines after missing Friday's playoff match in Vancouver due to his pending Green Card application.
 
Lineups:
POR: GK Wicks, D J. Thompson, D Knowles, D Griffin, D S. Thompson, M Higgins, M Poltl, M Gregor, M Olum (Kreamelmeyer, 42), F Jordan (Taylor, 71), F Bagley (Ambriz, 7)
 
VAN: GK Nelson, D Klein, D Kindel, D Lyall (Kambere, 45), D Martin, M Clarke, M Nash, M Donatelli, M Santana (Morris, 80), F Marcina (McLaughlin, 65), F Sebrango (Jordan, 76)
 
Scoring Summary:
POR: Thompson (Knowles), 27
POR: Gregor (Higgins), 70
POR: Ambriz (Thompson), 82