PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers opened their 2008 preseason schedule Friday night with a 2-1 loss to Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes in front of 1,168 fans at the University of Portland's Clive Charles Soccer Complex. Defender Tim Karalexis scored in his Timbers debut, but San Jose tallied two early to capture the win.
The Timbers and San Jose preseason match was the second match of a special doubleheader at the University of Portland.
Making their Timbers debut against San Jose, Karalexis and forwards Chris Brown and Takayuki Suzuki each made their mark on the match. Karalexis, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Charleston Battery, tallied a late second-half goal to pull the Timbers within a goal. Both Suzuki and Brown nearly found the back of the net, but both shots missed just wide.
The Timbers also featured trialist goalkeeper Ray Burse from MLS club FC Dallas. After allowing two goals early on, he finished the match with eight saves including four on point blank shots by Earthquake forwards Shea Salinas and Kei Kamara.
In their final preseason match before the start of the 2008 MLS season, San Jose maintained possession for a majority of the first half to take a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. The Earthquakes wasted little time in scoring the match's first goal as Kamara tallied his fifth preseason goal in the 8th minute.
Off a 40-yard free kick into the penalty area, San Jose defender Ryan Cochrane got a touch on the ball but Burse deflected the shot back out to Cochrane. A short pass to Kamara set up his three-yard strike for a 1-0 Earthquake lead.
Seven minutes later, Salinas gave San Jose a 2-0 lead on shot from the top of the box. Working the ball to space, the Earthquakes' 2008 draft pick blasted a shot into the top right corner of the goal past an out-stretched Burse in the 13th minute.
In the 32nd minute, an intercepted pass by midfielder Shaun Higgins set up the Timbers best scoring chance in the first half. Higgins laid the ball off for Suzuki on the left side of the box, but his shot at the far post rolled just inches wide.
The Timbers applied pressure on the offensive end of the field in the second half and it paid off in the 71st minute as Karalexis finished a loose ball in the box. Off a throw in from second-half sub Chris Bagley, the ball trickled through the box before Karalexis was able collect the ball and fire a shot to trim San Jose's lead 2-1.
Portland nearly found the back of the net on chances by midfielder Lawrence Olum and Brown early in the second half. In the 47th minute, Olum's header from Suzuki rattled off the crossbar and out of play. Brown also had a chance to head in a shot off a pass from Olum, but his shot missed wide left.
In the 70th minute, the Earthquakes escaped a close call from the Timbers. A free kick by midfielder Andrew Gregor from the left side of the box was knocked down by defender Scot Thompson and landed just feet from the goal line. Portland defender Cameron Knowles fought through the box to get a foot on the ball, but a San Jose defender cleared the shot inches from the line.
The match turned physical in the final minutes of the match, as the Timbers defense held their MLS counterparts scoreless in the second half. Burse stopped two uncontested shots by the Earthquakes in the second half to finish the period with four saves.
San Jose, a 2008 MLS expansion side, opens the regular season April 3 on the road against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Portland plays their second preseason match on Sunday against Gonzaga University at Lincoln Park Stadium in Forest Grove, Ore., near the campus of Pacific University. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults and $2 for children 17 and under and will be available at the door starting at 11 a.m.
The Timbers start the 2008 USL First Division season April 17 against the Puerto Rico Islanders at PGE Park.
Notes: The Timbers debuted their new "Rose City" red alternate uniforms for Friday's match ... In the first match of the preseason doubleheader, the Portland Pilots defeated the San Jose Reserves 1-0 on a goal by forward Frankie Lopez in the 34th minute.
Portland: GK Burse, D S. Thompson, D Knowles, D Karalexis, D Guante, M Higgins (Lara, 83), M Gregor, M Dombrowski (Poltl, 18), M Olum (Bagley, 66), F Brown, F Suzuki
San Jose: GK Cannon, D Hernandez (Curry, 83), D Cochrane (Ayres, 74), D Garcia, D Denton, M O'Brien, M Corrales, M Grabavoy, M Guerrero (Johnson, 83), F Salinas, F Kamara
SJ: Kamara (Cochrane), 8
SJ: Salinas, 13
POR: Karalexis, 71