Timbers U-23s to play for conference title Sunday

BREMERTON, Wash. – The Portland Timbers U-23s defeated the Hollywood United Hitmen 2-1 in the Premier Development League’s Western Conference semifinals on Saturday at Bremerton Memorial Stadium. With the win, the Timbers U-23s advance to the Western Conference championship match.

The Northwest Division-champion Timbers U-23s will face division rival the Kitsap Pumas, who defeated the defending-PDL champion Ventura County Fusion on penalty kicks in the semifinals, in the Western Conference title match on Sunday at Bremerton Memorial Stadium at 5 p.m.

After going down a goal early in the contest, the Timbers U-23s rallied back, scoring twice in the second half. Midfielder Freddie Braun scored the equalizer and midfielder Steven Evans provided the eventual game-winner just three minutes apart to help the Timbers U-23s climb out of the deficit and secure the victory.

Braun recorded a goal and an assist, Evans scored his second goal of the season and defender Graham Dugoni logged an assist to lead the Timbers U-23s, who finished the regular season with a perfect 16-0-0 record, to its first Western Conference championship appearance.

The Hitmen, from the PDL’s Southwest Division, claimed the lead early on a strike from forward Brent Whitfield in the third minute. Whitfield’s goal capped a series of sharp early passes from Hollywood United and he put away a pass from forward Jaime Chaves to force the Timbers U-23s to chase.

The Timbers U-23s pulled one back in the 63rd minute on Braun’s sixth goal of the season. Off of a corner kick by midfielder Roberto Farfan, Dugoni headed the ball back into the mix and Braun then blasted home the equalizer to even the score at 1-1.

Three minutes later, Braun set up Evans for the go-ahead strike. Braun flipped the ball back to Evans inside the offensive third, and Evans crushed a shot from 30 yards out that froze the goalkeeper and landed in the back of the net to put the Timbers U-23s on top 2-1.

The Timbers U-23s were reduced to 10 men in the 88th minute, when Dugoni was issued his second caution of th ematch and subsequently sent off. Portland held firm for the final moments of regulation and stoppage time, but will be without Dugoni for the conference championship match due to a one-game, league-imposed suspension for his ejection.

Notes: The Timbers U-23s have won 17 straight games in 2010 ... The goal scored by Hollywood United marked just the second time the Timbers U-23s trailed a match in 2010; it was only the seventh goal allowed the Portland backline this season … The Timbers U-23s have scored 55 goals this season … The Hitmen were the No. 2 seed from the Southwest Division … Saturday’s match marked the first time the Timbers U-23s had faced an opponent outside of the Northwest Division.

POR: GK Gleeson, D Dugoni, D Thompson (Crasilneck, 45), D Granger, D Kawoluk, M Ogunyemi, M Braun, M Hasson (Evans, 45), M Farfan, F Richards (Drake, 89), F Ramsey (Abrego, 70)

HOL: GK Miranda, J., D Miranda, E., D Mohammed, D Sims, O. (Rodriguez, 78), D Morales, M Corona, M Bentil, M Spitz (Barbieto, 89), M Mendoza (Akers, 70), F Chavez, F Whitfield

Scoring Summary:
HOL: Whitfield (Chavez), 3
POR: Braun (Farfan), 64
POR: Evans (Braun), 66