Pore, defense help Timbers to a 1-1 draw

BLAINE, Minn. – Midfielder Ryan Pore collected his fourth goal of the season as the Portland Timbers settled for a 1-1 draw with the Minnesota Thunder Saturday night at the National Sports Center. With the tie, the Timbers extended their USL-record unbeaten streak to 18 matches.  

Pore scored on a header from defender David Hayes in the 55th minute and goalkeeper Steve Cronin faced 11 shots and saved five to preserve the 1-1 stalemate. With the draw, the Timbers (9-1-9) now have 36 points and remain tied for second place with the Carolina RailHawks.

Midfielder Ricardo Sanchez tallied seven shots in the game, but it was his last one that found the back of the net in the 90th minute. Minnesota (3-9-6) outshot the Timbers 11-4, including 5-1 in the second half, to earn its second straight draw against Portland.

Cronin’s first test of the game came in the ninth minute when a shot by Sanchez sailed just wide of the goal. Forward Leonel St. Preux led the Thunder’s counter attack, taking the ball into Timbers territory before setting up Sanchez’s attempt.

Forward Mandjou Keita battled three defenders inside the 18-yard box before his chance was corralled by goalkeeper Nicolas Platter in the 10th minute.  

The two sides exchanged shots and continued to battle throughout the first half. Forward Brian Cvilikas and Keita each had opportunities to give their respective clubs the advantage, but the backline of both teams held firm.

The Timbers threatened near the end of the first half as Pore forced Platter to make two diving saves. He created a close-range shot for midfielder Keith Savage with a through-ball in the 32nd minute and then drilled the ball right at Platter from 20 yards out in the 40th minute.

Minnesota had three chances to break the scoreless tie in the early minutes of the second half. Cronin deflected two consecutive open looks by the Thunder and midfielder Brian Farber slid into a shot to keep the match even. 

Pore headed a corner kick by Hayes, who recorded his fourth assist of the season, just over the outstretched arm of Platter as the Timbers took a 1-0 lead in the 55th minute.

The backline of the Timbers held strong over the majority of the second half, routinely driving balls out of its side of the field. Cronin punched a Minnesota cross out of the box in the 66th minute, and a shot by Sanchez in the 73rd minute floated just over the crossbar.

The Timbers return home to play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m., at PGE Park.

Notes: Midfielder Tony McManus was not available for the match due to a league-imposed, one-game suspension for yellow card accumulation …the Timbers finished their 2009 season series against Minnesota with a record of 1-0-2 … Forward Jason McLaughlin received a red card and was sent off in the 83rd minute … the Timbers have yet to lose a game in Minnesota since 2003.

POR: GK Cronin, D Thompson, D Knowles, D Keel, D Hayes, M Farber (Forrest, 77), M Savage (Higgins, 45), M Claesson, M Pore, F Josten (McLaughlin, 45), F Keita

MINN: GK Platter, D Kirk, D Greenfield (Clements, 51), D Arango, D Peterson (Constanzo, 64), M Olum (Myers 86), M Bass, M Sanchez, F Dyachenko (Terminesi, 64), F Cvilikas (Tarley, 68), F St. Preux

Scoring Summary:
Pore (Hayes), 55

Sanchez (pk), 90