Timbers, Carolina battle to hard-fought draw

PORTLAND, Ore. - Midfielder Lawrence Olum tallied a game-high four shots and goalkeeper Brad Knighton recorded five saves as the Portland Timbers and Carolina RailHawks battled to a hard-fought 0-0 draw in front of 8,257 at PGE Park Thursday.
 
In a physical contest, both sides were reduced to 10 men as the Timbers had forward Chris Brown sent off with a straight red in the 42nd minute and Carolina defender David Stokes was issued two cautions of his own and ejected in the second half. Both Portland and Carolina combined for 42 fouls on the night.
 
Matching a season-high with five saves, Knighton earned his first shutout of the season to help the Timbers (5-7-8, 23pts) pick up a point and pull even with the Seattle Sounders in fifth place in the USL First Division at 23 points. Portland maintained offensive momentum throughout the match and out-shot Carolina 14-12 despite playing a man short for a majority of the match.
 
The Timbers were without the services of forward Byron Alvarez, the team's modern-franchise scoring leader, against the RailHawks (4-5-9, 21pts). Alvarez, who signed with the Timbers on Tuesday, did not receive international clearance prior to the match. The Timbers are waiting for international clearance since Alvarez last played for a professional indoor team based in Monterrey, Mexico.
 
Both sides played aggressively from the opening whistle and the tone of the match eventually saw the ejection of Brown late the first half. Referee Andres Pfefferkorn wasted little time in issuing Brown a straight red after he and Stokes got tangled up on a restart that ended with Stokes on the turf.
 
The Timbers held the advantage in shots in the first half and had perhaps their best opportunity of the night in the 25th minute on a 25 yard free kick by Brown that almost snuck its way into the top right corner of the frame but missed just high.
 
Midfielder Martin Nunez had the chance to put the RailHawks up by a goal midway through the first half, but his shot in front of an open net sailed high over the crossbar. Carolina brought the ball down the right flank and sent a cross that trickled its way between Portland defenders out to Nunez inside the box at the back post for the open shot.
 
Knighton logged four of his five saves on the night in the second half to help preserve his first shutout in league play since joining the Timbers in early July.
 
Olum helped generate two scoring chances early in the second half. In the 50th minute, Olum got on the end of a long cross by Leonard Griffin at the back post but his header was denied by RailHawks goalkeeper Chris McClellan. Later in the half, Olum intercepted an errant pass by the Carolina backline and set up a blast by midfielder Tom Poltl at the top of the box that found its way into the arms of McClellan.
 
Following the ejection of Stokes, who received his second caution of the night in the 78th minute, midfielder Shaun Higgins nearly buried his second goal of the season as the two sides were at even strength. Olum crossed the ball into the box for Higgins, who from the penalty spot, rocketed a low shot at the left post but McClellen was there to knock it away with a diving effort.
 
Poltl had one last chance to break the deadlock during second-half stoppage time as he received a pass at the top of the box. With time and room, Poltl sent a hard left-footed shot at the top left corner of the goal but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.  
 
The Timbers take a trip to the Midwest to take on the Minnesota Thunder in their next match on Aug. 2 at 5:05 p.m. (Pacific). Portland will have to face Minnesota without Higgins and defender Justin Thompson due to a one-game, league-imposed suspension due to yellow card accumulation as well as Brown due to his ejection on Thursday.
 
Notes: The Timbers have logged nine shutouts on the season ... Midfielder Arsene Oka earned his first start as a member of the Timbers against the RailHawks ... In two games at PGE Park between the Timbers and RailHawks, both have ended in 0-0 draws and had players ejected from the match.
 
Lineups:
POR: GK Knighton, D Knowles, D J. Thompson, D S. Thompson, D Griffin (Suzuki, 80), M Guante, M Higgins, M Poltl, M Brown, F Oka (Walker, 59), F Olum (Bagley, 85)

CAR: GK McClellan, D Low, D Stokes, D Segovia, D Sanfilippo, M Nunez (Lemons, 84), M Solle, M Watson, M Fusilier (Curfman, 73), F Diallo (Edozien, 84), F Antoniuk (Norkus, 70)

Scoring Summary:

None