Suzuki leads Portland to 2-0 win over Seattle
PORTLAND, Ore. - Japanese striker Takayuki Suzuki recorded a goal and an assist to lead the Portland Timbers to a 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders in front of 9,894 at PGE Park on Saturday night. With the win, the Timbers extend their unbeaten regular-season streak at home and maintain their early season lead in the USL First Division.
Portland's victory over its Northwest rival extends its run of regular-season home matches at PGE Park without a loss to 17 games. Saturday's match also marks the Timbers' (3-0-0, 9pts) first win over Seattle (0-1-1, 1pt) since 2006.
Suzuki tallied his first goal of the season in the sixth minute to give Portland an early 1-0 lead. He then fed midfielder Miguel Guante on his first professional goal in the 76th minute to help Portland capture a 2-0 victory and maintain its first place position in the USL First Division table.
Timbers goalkeeper Ray Burse recorded six saves to collect his second shutout of the season, including one in the 84th minute on a one-on-one attempt by Seattle forward Sebastien LeToux at the top of the box.
The Timbers took an early 1-0 lead on a strike by Suzuki. Portland's defense was able to stop a corner kick by Seattle and the ball trickled out to forward Chris Brown just outside the top of the Portland penalty area. Brown sent a long pass down field to Suzuki, who caught up to the ball and collectied it outside the top right corner of the box. Working the ball to space, he rocketed a 22-yard shot into the top far corner of the frame for his first goal as member of the Timbers.
In the 76th minute, Guante, who made his first start of the season Saturday, added to the Timbers' lead with this first strike of the season. The play developed as Suzuki carried the ball up the right touch line and found Guante in the center of the pitch about 30 yards out from goal. Guante fought his way around a Seattle defender and knocked the ball from 15 yards out inside the left post past a diving attempt by Seattle goalkeeper Chris Eylander for a 2-0 Portland advantage.
Midway through the first half, Seattle had two opportunities to find the equalizer. In the 22nd minute, Burse made diving stop on a shot by LeToux at the left post, and parried the ball out of play. Six minutes later, midfielder Josh Gardner had a chance to find his first goal of the season from 10 yards out. His shot across the box with an open net rolled just wide of the right post, but sliding along the goal line was Timbers defender Tim Karalexis to make sure the ball stayed wide.
The Timbers have a 12 day break until their next match against the Rochester Raging Rhinos on May 8 at PGE Park. Tickets, starting at $11, are available through the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phoning (503) 224-4400.
Notes: Karalexis made his first start of the season against Seattle ... With the win, the Timbers take an early lead in the 2008 Cascadia Cup race ... The Sounders took 13 corner kicks throughout the night … Both teams combined for 29 shots … The last time Portland defeated Seattle was June 3, 2006 at PGE Park.
POR: GK Burse, D Griffin, D Knowles, D Karalexis, D S. Thompson, M Guante, M Poltl, M Higgins, M Gregor (Olum, 80), F Suzuki (Little, 81), F Brown (Bagley, 76)
SEA: GK Eylander, D Jackson, D Sakuda (Fishbaugher, 69), D Graham, D Scott, M Alcaraz-Cuellar, M Treschuk, M O'Brien, M Gardner (Cascio, 77), F Levesque (Schmid, 54), F LeToux
POR: Suzuki (Brown), 6
POR: Guante (Suzuki), 76