Keita leads charge in Timbers' 3-1 win over Battery

PORTLAND, Ore. – Forward Mandjou Keita tallied a goal and assisted two others to lead the Portland Timbers to a 3-1 win over the Charleston Battery Saturday before 9,477 at PGE Park and a share of first place in the USL First Division.

Keita recorded his eighth goal of the season, midfielder Alex Nimo logged a goal and an assist and midfielder Ryan Pore scored his third goal in three games to help Portland (11-1-9, 42pts) leap Charleston in the standings and join the Carolina RailHawks in a two-way tie at the top of the table.

With their second victory in three days, the Timbers extended their USL First Division record unbeaten streak to 20 matches.

In a matchup featuring the top two defensive units in the league, the Timbers broke through for three goals against a Battery backline that had allowed a league-low 10 goals entering the match. Saturday marked the first time Charleston allowed multiple goals in a league game this season.

Midfielder Stephen Armstrong scored his first on the season and midfielder Scott Buete logged a team-high five shots for Charleston (11-4-8, 41pts), who had a three-game winning streak come to an end with the loss.

Keita broke open the scoring in the 12th minute with a header from eight yards out. From a re-start just outside the box, Nimo received the ball inside the penalty area and served a pin-point cross to Keita near the spot. Keita leapt over the crowd and drilled a shot just under bar for his first goal since July 11.

Keita and Nimo linked up once again in the 41st minute to double the Timbers’ lead 2-0. Portland worked the ball into the box to Keita high on the right side with his back to goal. Keita sent a pass out wide to Nimo down the right side. After slipping by his defender, Nimo curled a shot past Battery goalkeeper Keith Wiggans and inside the left post for his first goal as a member of the Timbers.

The Battery pulled one back in the 50th minute, taking advantage of a Portland turnover. Forward Randi Patterson won possession of the ball in the Timbers defensive third and pushed it immediately up field. He drew the Timbers defense and found Armstrong on a short pass inside the box. Portland goalkeeper Steve Cronin left his line to challenge Armstrong on the play, but Armstrong found an opening and finished the ball into an open net.

After placing an open shot right at Wiggans earlier the second half, Pore capitalized on a second chance at an open look inside the box in the 81st minute. Cronin started the play at the back, finding Keita near midfield, who then fed Pore on a run up the left wing. Pore out-ran a Battery defender tracking back and then rattled a shot off the near post and into the back of the net to sealing a 3-1 win for the Timbers with his sixth strike of the season.

Just five minutes from time, Battery midfielder Chris Williams was sent off by referee Andres Pfefferkorn, following an altercation near midfield. A scrum broke out after a hard challenge on Pore near the sideline from a Battery player.

The Timbers embark on a two-game road trip, starting Wednesday against the Montreal Impact at 4:45 p.m. (Pacific). Portland then visits the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. (Pacific). Both matches will be broadcast live on www.portlandtimbers.com, with a live video webcast available through USL Live at www.usllive.com. Saturday’s game in Rochester will air live on 95.5 The Game.

Notes: The Timbers out-shot the Battery 16-12 … Midfielder Alex Nimo made his third start of the season for Portland Saturday … Armstrong’s goal was just the third given up by Portland at home this season in league play … The Timbers are 9-0-0 this season when scoring in the first half … Former Timbers forward Dan Antoniuk started for the Battery against his former club.

Lineups:
POR: GK Cronin, D Hayes, D Keel, D Thompson, D Danso, D Claesson, M Claesson (Savage, 45), M McManus, M Nimo (Farber, 66), M Pore (Forrest, 86), F Keita, F Josten (Suzuki, 86)

CHA: GK Wiggans, D Akwari, D Marples, D Bermudez, D Sanfilippo, M Buete, M Williams, M Armstrong (Yoshitake, 77), M Hemming, F Antoniuk, F Patterson

Scoring Summary:
POR: Keita (Nimo), 12
POR: Nimo (Keita), 41
CHA: Armstrong (Patterson), 50
POR: Pore (Keita), 81