Timbers shut out AC St. Louis 3-0 at PGE Park

PORTLAND, Ore. – A first-half brace by midfielder Ryan Pore and a three-point performance by forward O.J. Obatola guided the Portland Timbers to a 3-0 win over AC St. Louis Thursday before 5,893 at PGE Park.

Pore scored twice in the first half, finding the back of the net in the first and 45th minutes, and logged an assist on the night. Obatola scored his first goal as a member of the Timbers in the second half to cap the scoring and also added an assist to help the Timbers (2-0-0, 6pts) open the season with two straight victories.

Portland’s backline recorded its second straight shutout Thursday and has yet to allow a goal through two games in the young season. Goalkeeper Steve Cronin recorded one save to pick up his second shutout of the season; rookie goalkeeper Matt Pyzdrowski made his professional debut playing the final 10 minutes of the match.

Midfielder Jack Traynor took a team-high four shots and goalkeeper Alec Dufty recorded a pair of key saves during the contest for AC St. Louis (0-3-0, 0pts), which lost its third straight match to open the 2010 USSF Division-2 Pro League season.

The Timbers took the lead just 19 seconds into the match, as Pore scored his first of the game. A run down the right wing by midfielder Brian Farber ended with a pass to Obatola inside the box. Obatola drew out the defense and then slipped the ball across to Pore alone on the back side. Pore drilled a shot from close range under the diving effort by Dufty.

Pore doubled the Timbers’ advantage in first-half stoppage time. A long pass down the right side by Obatola connected with forward George Josten on a run inside the box. Josten forced Dufty off his line and then took advantage of a one-on-one with a St. Louis defender. Under pressure, Josten calmly found Pore sneaking down the far side of the box. Pore then finished into an open net from six yards out.

Midway through the first half, the Timbers escaped a close call by St. Louis. Off a corner kick in the 33rd minute, midfielder Manuel Kante put a shot on frame. Timbers goalkeeper Steve Cronin had left his line to challenge the initial ball, but midfielder Tony McManus was stationed on the left post to deny Kante’s effort.

The Timbers took control of the match in the second half, out-shooting AC St. Louis 9-5 in the stanza. Portland forced Dufty into two great saves in the second half, including one on a shot by midfielder Alex Nimo in the closing minutes of the contest.

The pressure by Portland paid off as Obatola added the home side’s third goal of the night in the 62nd minute. From near the left touch line, Pore pushed the ball inside and found Obatola open at the top of the box. On his second touch, Obatola unleashed a left-footed shot that sliced inside the left post and into the back of the net.

Joining in on the offensive end for the Timbers in the second half were defenders Quavas Kirk and Steve Purdy, each with dangerous chances. In the 54th minute, Kirk connected on a corner kick and headed a shot off the right post. Five minutes later, Purdy aimed a sharp header at the top left corner of the frame, but Dufty was there to stop the shot with out-stretched hands.

AC St. Louis nearly pulled one back in the 86th minute as defender Anthony O’Garro, who scored the club’s first goal in franchise history last weekend, put a shot from distance off the woodwork.

The Timbers continue their stretch of two games in four days on Sunday as they visit the defending-champion Montreal Impact at Saputo Stadium; kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. (Pacific). A live broadcast will be available on 95.5 The Game, with a live video webcast available at www.portlandtimbers.com/live.

Notes: St. Louis forward Elvir Kafedzic was carted off the field on a stretcher due to an injury in the 43rd minute … Timbers head coach Gavin Wilkinson arrived at PGE Park moments before the match kicked off. His trip to England was extended three extra days due to delays in travel caused by volcanic ash in the air over Europe … Purdy and rookie forward Bright Dike made their Timbers debuts Thursday against St. Louis.

Lineups:
POR: GK Cronin (Pyzdrowski, 79), D Thompson (Cameron, 73), D Purdy, D Keel, D Kirk, M Pore, M McManus, M Marcelin, M Farber (Nimo, 80), F Josten (Dike, 70), F Obatola (Suzuki, 71)

STL: GK Dufty, D Traynor (Pogosyan, 89), D Velten, D Barna, D Nzinga, M Kreamalmeyer, M Kante (O’Garro, 80), M Bloom, M More (Cole, 67), F Kafedzic (Cosgriff, 42), F Titton (Chirishian, 62)

Scoring Summary:
POR: Pore (Obatola), 1
POR: Pore (Josten), 45
POR: Obatola (Pore), 62

Timbers Player Ratings (on a scale of 1-10 as submitted by Portland media):
Starters:
GK – Steve Cronin – 7, D – Steve Purdy – 7.5, D – Quavas Kirk – 7.5, D – Stephen Keel – 7, D – Scot Thompson – 7, M – James Marcelin – 8, M – Ryan Pore – 8, M – Brian Farber – 7.5, M – Tony McManus – 7, F – O.J. Obatola – 7.5, F – George Josten – 7.5

Subs:
GK – Matt Pyzdrowski – 7, D – Josh Cameron – 7, M – Alex Nimo – 6.5, F – Takayuki Suzuki – 7, F – Bright Dike – 6.5