Timbers earn 2-2 draw with Rowdies on Suzuki goal

TAMPA, Fla. – Forward Bright Dike netted the go-ahead goal and forward Takayuki Suzuki provided the late equalizer as the Portland Timbers earned a 2-2 draw with FC Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday at George M Steinbrenner Field.

The Timbers took the lead in the 16th minute on a strike by Dike, but the Rowdies stole a 2-1 lead on back-to-back goals by forward Aaron King and midfielder Ricardo Sanchez. With nine minutes left in regulation, Suzuki buried the game-tying goal to help the Timbers earn a share of the points on the road.

Dike scored his second league goal, while Suzuki tallied his first goal on the campaign and goalkeeper Steve Cronin recorded six saves, including one late to preserve the draw, for the Timbers (7-6-6, 27pts). Portland moves into sole possession of third place in the USL Conference.

Sanchez scored in his team debut, King notched his team-leading sixth goal of the season and defender Yendry Diaz earned an assist as the Rowdies (6-7-6, 24pts) ended a four-match homestand with the draw.

In the middle of a season-long, three-game road trip, the Timbers claimed the lead in the 16th minute as Dike punched home a free ball in the box. A corner kick by Ian Joy from the left side found defender Steve Purdy on the back post. Purdy headed a ball in to Dike, who missed on his initial shot. The ball bounced around the box before working its way back out to Dike. He headed his second effort into the back of the net to lift Portland to a 1-0 advantage.

King tallied the equalizer in the 27th minute to help the Rowdies go into the break even at 1-1. King was the recipient of a long ball played down the right side. He caught Cronin off his line just enough to chip a shot over the goalkeeper and drop it inside the left post.

Recently acquired from the Vancouver Whitecaps, Sanchez broke the deadlock for FC Tampa Bay in the 57th minute on a free kick. From dead on, Sanchez curled a shot from 32 yards out up and over the wall and inside the right stick to put the Rowdies ahead 2-1 with his second goal of the season.

Pressure up the wing by Purdy started the play, which led to the Timbers’ equalizer by Suzuki in the 81st minute. Suzuki charged into the box and hit a hard shot on frame. Sattler turned it away and the ball deflected back into play. Suzuki collected the rebound, moved into space, and then drilled a follow-up shot past the Rowdies goalkeeper to knot the score at 2-2 and help the Timbers rescue a point on the road.

The Timbers assembled two close scoring chances early in the second half with the score level at 1-1. In the 45th minute, Dike had a shot denied by Sattler in the opening seconds of the period. A minute later, a corner kick by Joy resulted in a header by Purdy that missed just wide. Those two attempts set the pace for Portland, which out-shot FC Tampa Bay 13-4 in the second half.

The Timbers finish their three-game road trip on Wednesday, Aug. 4, against the Rochester Rhinos at Auto Marina Stadium. The match will air live on Sportsradio 95.5 The Game, with a live video webcast online at www.portlandtimbers.com/live.

Notes: Both of Dike’s goals in league play this season have come against the Rowdies … Timbers midfielder Keith Savage made his league debut on Saturday as a substitute. He missed the first 18 games of the season with a knee injury … The Timbers ended July with a 2-1-2 record during the month … Defender Ross Smith returned to the lineup for the Timbers after sustaining a head injury against the Vancouver Whitecaps on July 22.

POR: GK Cronin, D Joy, D Smith, D Purdy, D Danso, M Keel (McManus, 45), M Gaudet (Claesson, 45), M Marcelin (Suzuki, 71), M Nimo (Savage, 68), F Pore, F Dike (DeMartin, 79)

TBR: GK Sattler, D Tatters, D Valentin, D Valentino, D Donoho, M Diaz (Yamada, 78), M Gyorio (Nyazamba, 78), M Yates, M Tan, M Sanchez (Millien, 74), F King (Akpan, 74)

Scoring Summary:
POR: Dike, 16
TBR: King (Diaz), 27
TBR: Sanchez, 57
POR: Suzuki, 81