Keita, Danso help Timbers defeat Islanders 2-1

BAYAMON, PR – Forward Mandjou Keita scored his second goal in two games and defender Mamadou Danso delivered the game-winner as the Portland Timbers captured a 2-1 victory over the Puerto Rico Islanders at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium on Sunday.

Keita’s second goal of the season gave Portland the lead in the 24th minute, Danso punched in his first strike of the season to break a 1-1 deadlock late in the first half and midfielder Brian Farber collected both assists to lead the Timbers (3-1-3, 12pts) to their first win over the Islanders in Puerto Rico since 2005. With a draw Friday and Sunday’s victory, the Timbers captured four points from their two-game road trip against the Islanders.

Defender John Krause scored his second goal of the season and midfielder Jonathan Steele earned his first assist to lead the Islanders (2-2-3, 9pts), who suffered their first home loss of the season.

From the opening whistle, the Timbers looked to pressure the Islanders’ backline and in the sixth minute, midfielder Keith Savage slipped a through ball into the box for Keita that forced Puerto Rico goalkeeper Bill Gaudette to leave his line and challenge the play.

Early on, both sides looked to push the ball up field when it had possession, and the Islanders answered right back in the eighth minute as midfielder Peter Villegas pulled the trigger on a shot from the top of the box that forced Portland goalkeeper Steve Cronin to make a diving stop on the left post.

Once the match settled in, the Timbers set the pace and set up several dangerous chances, including a shot by defender Takuro Nishimura in the 19th minute. He worked the ball down the right flank and set up for a shot from the top right corner of the box. Aimed at the near post, Nishimura’s shot was stopped by Gaudette with a quick reaction save.

The Timbers opened the scoring in the 24th minute on play started by David Hayes down the left side. Hayes played the ball up field for Farber, who then sent a low cross back into the box from deep in the left corner. The pass snuck its way to Keita near the penalty spot, and with room, he buried his second goal of the season inside the right post.

After a near miss by Villegas in the 30th minute, the Islanders pulled one back shortly after using a 22-yard free kick by Johnny Steele. He played the ball towards the back post and as it landed in the box, the ball deflected off of Danso and was loose on the goal line. Krause was there to tap in the equalizer in the 34th minute.

Less than a minute later, the Timbers would go back on top with Danso’s goal in the 35th minute. A free kick by Hayes from the left side found Farber along the end line near the right post, who slipped a short pass to Danso less than six yards out from goal. On his first touch, Danso knocked his shot past Gaudette and inside the near post to help Portland regain its one-goal advantage.

Early the second half, the Timbers continued to push the ball up field and looked to find an insurance goal on the road. In the first minutes of the second period, midfielder Ryan Pore brought the ball up from midfield and rocketed a shot on frame, but Gaudette was in position keep the ball from finding the back of the net.

In the 54th minute, Hayes led a charge by Portland and sent a pass to Keita wide down the right side. Keita spotted Danso making a run on the back post and crossed the ball into the box, but Danso’s shot back across the goal missed wide.

Puerto Rico found its offensive rhythm in the second half near the 55th minute and steadily gained momentum as the game wore on. Forward Kendall Jagdeosingh had a chance to tie the match, but his open look from inside the box in the 56th minute sailed over crossbar.

In the 60th minute, Islanders forward Josh Hansen worked the ball back across the top of the box and unleashed a shot aimed at the top left corner of the goal that forced Cronin into action, but his shot narrowly missed high.

Cronin, who recorded six saves on the night, and the Timbers defense held strong through the final half hour, spoiling several chances by the Islanders. Defender Cameron Knowles and second-half sub Takayuki Suzuki each deflected shots from inside the box to help maintain the Timbers’ advantage.

Portland escaped a close call in the 78th minute as Steele, positioned inside the box, put a cross from Jagdeosingh over the crossbar. The Timbers held on through five minutes of added time in the second half to earn their first-ever win in Puerto Rico and extend the team’s unbeaten streak to six matches.

The Timbers return home for a set of matches at PGE Park next week, as they play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday, May 30 at 7 p.m., and the Club America reserves in an international exhibition match on Sunday, May 31 at 5 p.m. Tickets for both matches are available through the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Notes: Danso made his second start of the season for the Timbers on Sunday … Nishimura appeared in his first game for Portland since April 30 … After starting the all-time series against the Islanders in Puerto Rico with three straight losses, the Timbers are now 1-0-2 in their last three matches against the Islanders in the Caribbean.

Lineups:
POR: GK Cronin, D Danso, D Knowles, D Nishimura (Nimo, 73), D Hayes, M Farber (Thompson, 64), M McManus, M Claesson, M Savage (Suzuki, 56), M Pore (Keel, 87), F Keita (McLauglin, 55)

PR: GK Gaudette, D Rivera (Delgado, 88), D Krause, D Henry, D Jones, M Cabrero (Fraser, 67), M Veris, M Steele (Arrieta, 86), M Villegas (Gbandi, 67, F Hansen (Nunez, 77), F Jagdeosingh