Timbers earn first shutout in draw with Carolina

PORTLAND, Ore. – Goalkeeper Chris Seitz recorded six saves to help the Portland Timbers earn their first shutout of the season in a 0-0 draw against the Carolina RailHawks in front of 8,549 Thursday at PGE Park.
 
Seitz recorded all six of his saves in the first half and forward Mandjou Keita recorded a game-high six shots on the night to lead the Timbers (0-1-1, 1pt) in their 2009 PGE Park debut.
 
Midfielder Kupono Low was one of five different players for the RailHawks (3-0-1, 10pts) who had two shots on the night. Goalkeeper Patterson Sewell logged five saves to earn his second shutout of the season and continue the RailHawks’ unbeaten run to open the 2009 campaign.
 
Seitz joined the Timbers earlier in the day Thursday on loan from Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake to fill in for injured starter Steve Cronin, who was injured during training on Wednesday. Seitz is on loan through Saturday.  
 
In a spirited first half, both sides looked to put the opposing defenses under pressure as the two teams combined for 16 shots in the opening period.
 
The RailHawks nearly took the lead in the opening minutes on the first shot attempt of the night. Low put a low hard shot on target and Seitz was able to get a piece of the ball, but couldn’t make a complete stop as the ball rolled towards an open goal. Tracking back, Timbers defender Cameron Knowles was able to clear the ball of the line to keep the score level.
 
Once the game settled in, Seitz and the Timbers backline fought off 11 of the RailHawks’ 13 shots on the night in the first half. Seitz recorded two point-blank saves by Carolina’s Low and midfielder Luke Kreamalmeyer in the early stages of the match.
 
Portland had its chances in the first half as well, taking seven of its 14 shots on the night. Most of the Timbers shots in the first half came off of set pieces or crosses as Keita and midfielders Ryan Pore and Keith Savage each had headers miss wide.
 
The Timbers put in a commanding performance in the second half, controlling possession of the ball and held the RailHawks to just two shots in the final period. Portland started the second half strong and right out of the gates peppered the Carolina net with six shots in the first 15 minutes of the half.
 
Two of Portland’s best chances in the game came early on; with the first in the 55th minute. Defender David Hayes sailed a 35 yard free kick into the box that connected with forward Takayuki Suzuki near the top of the six-yard box. Suzuki headed the ball at the back post, as midfielder Brian Farber came slashing through the box, but Farber could not get to the ball in time before it bounced just wide of the goal.
 
Five minutes later, another free kick by Hayes set up a chance for Pore. Hayes’ kick deflected off Carolina’s four-man wall and back into play. Timbers defender Stephen Keel laid the ball off for Pore who blistered a 22-yard shot from the top left right side of the box that missed just wide of the far post, but forced RailHawks goalkeeper Caleb Patterson into action just to be sure the ball went wide.
 
In the 74th minute, Portland midfielder Johan Claesson nearly found his mark, bringing the ball down the right side of the box and aimed a shot at the top near corner. But Patterson was in position to punch the ball away for his fifth save of the night.
 
At the end of regulation, the two sides finished in a scoreless stalemate for their third straight meeting at PGE Park. Since the RailHawks joined the USL First Division in 2007, neither team has scored a goal in the all-time series between Timbers and RailHawks in matches played in Portland.
 
The Timbers play host to the RailHawks for the second time this week on Saturday at PGE Park at 7 p.m. The first 2,000 fans receive a Timbers poster courtesy of Cricket Wireless and a 2009 schedule magnet presented by PGE. Tickets start at $11 and are available through the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.
 
Notes: Timbers midfielder Brian Farber made his Timbers debut, entering the match as a sub in the second half … Seitz earned the Timbers’ first shutout of the season … The Timbers are now 5-2-2 in their seasonal home openers at PGE Park since 2001.
 
Lineups:
POR: GK Seitz, D Nishimura (Thompson, 45), D Knowles, D Keel, D Hayes, M Savage (Farber, 45), M Claesson, M McManus, M Pore (McLaughlin, 84), F Keita (Josten, 84), F Suzuki
 
CAR: GK Patterson Sewell, D Norkus, D Gilkerson, D Schulte, D Stewart, M Lowery, M Low, M Gardner (Budnyy, 87), M Paladini (Watson, 62), F Glinton (Diallo, 75), F Kreamalmeyer (Cunliff, 70)