Timbers battle Stars to 2-2 draw at PGE Park

PORTLAND, Ore. – Behind a goal and an assist from midfielder Ryan Pore and a strike from forward Bright Dike, the Portland Timbers played the NSC Minnesota Stars to a 2-2 draw on Wednesday before a sold-out crowd of 15,418 at PGE Park.

Following a first-half goal from Dike, the Timbers claimed the lead in the 63rd minute on a penalty-kick goal by Pore. A minute after the go-ahead tally, Portland was reduced to 10 men when defender Ian Joy was sent off with a straight red card after a challenge at midfield. With an extra man, the Stars were able to find the equalizer in the 73rd minute as substitute Simone Bracalello buried a goal off a corner kick as the two sides battled to a physical 2-2 draw.

Pore recorded his league-leading 12th goal of the season and his team-high third assist, Dike scored his second goal in three games and midfielder Keith Savage took two shots in his first start of the season for the Timbers (7-7-7, 28pts). Pore and Dike combined for six of Portland’s 12 shots in the contest.

Midfielder Ely Allen and Bracalello each scored their second goals of the season and midfielder Andrei Gotsmanov logged two assists to lead the Stars (7-9-7, 28pts) to the club’s fifth straight draw. NSC Minnesota extends its unbeaten streak to six games.

The Timbers and Stars combined for 36 fouls in the match, including three yellow cards and one ejection. Both clubs remain tied for third place in the USL Conference and still rank fifth in the overall USSF Division-2 Pro League standings.

After going down a goal midway through the first half, Dike pulled the Timbers even in the 44th minute on a hard-working effort inside the box. From near the top of the box, Pore leapt up and headed the ball onto the path of Dike. After heading the ball to the ground, Dike pushed his way through the crowd and hit a left-footed shot inside the left post to send the match into halftime knotted at 1-1 with this third goal of the season in league play.

The Timbers claimed the lead in the 63rd minute as the match heated up. Dike was knocked down as he approached the box, but the referee continued play. Pore collected the ball and he was taken down inside the box and referee Yader Reyes pointed to the spot. On the penalty kick attempt, Pore drilled a shot into the left side of the goal as Stars goalkeeper Joe Warren dove in the other direction, giving the Timbers a 2-1 advantage.

A minute later, the Timbers were dealt a blow when Joy was sent off with a straight red card by Reyes, following a hard challenge near midfield. The Timbers were forced to play with 10 for the final 26 minutes of the match, and the Stars capitalized.

Bracalello set up the goal-scoring play for the Stars as he forced Timbers goalkeeper Steve Cronin into one of his three saves on the night in the 72nd minute; Cronin pushed the shot over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner kick, Bracelello received a second chance and he headed home a well-placed ball by Gotsmanov from the top of the six yard box, leveling the score 2-2 and helping the Stars leave PGE Park with their share of the points.

NSC Minnesota broke open the scoring in the 24th minute, as Allen scored his second goal of the season against the Timbers. Allen, who also scored the game-winning goal in the Stars’ win at PGE Park on June 17, snuck in behind the Timbers backline and received a pass chipped in by Gotsmanov from the top of the box. He stretched out his leg and poked the ball into the bottom right corner of the net and past a sprawling dive from Cronin.

The Timbers controlled the tempo of a physical first half and out-shot the Stars 8-2. On a free kick by defender Stephen Keel, the Timbers had a chance to steal the lead in the 10th minute. Defender Mamadou Danso headed the ball back out to Pore at the top of the box, and Pore ripped a follow-up shot, which was helped over the crossbar by Warren.

Portland heads back out on the road for its next match on Saturday at AC St. Louis at 5:10 p.m. (Pacific). A live broadcast will be available on Sportsradio 95.5 The Game, with a live video webcast available at www.portlandtimbers.com/live.

Notes: The Timbers have allowed two or more goals in three of their last four games … Portland newcomer Ibad Muhamadu made his team debut Wednesday against the Stars … The 15,418 on hand was the second-highest attendance in 2010 and matches the season-opening crowd at PGE Park on April 17 … Earlier in the day, the Timbers introduced new MLS head coach John Spencer at a news conference in downtown Portland.

POR: GK Cronin, D Keel, D Joy, D Danso, D Purdy (Kirk, 63), M Marcelin, M Nimo (Lopez, 45), M Savage (Claesson, 79), M Pore, F Dike (Muhamadu, 82), F Suzuki (McManus, 67)

MIN: GK Warren, D Arango, D Friedland, D Altman, D Lorenz, M Gotsmanov (Wright, 77), M Wasson, M Moura (Hlavity, 71), M Allen, F Tarley (Ukah, 87), F Cvilikas (Bracalello, 69)

Scoring Summary:
MIN: Allen (Gotsmanov), 24
POR: Dike (Pore), 44
POR:  Pore (penalty kick), 63
MIN: Bracalello (Gotsmanov), 69

Timbers player ratings (as submitted by members of the Portland media; scale 1-10):
GK – Steve Cronin – 6.5, D – Stephen Keel – 6.5, D – Ian Joy – 6, D – Steve Purdy – 6.5, D – Mamadou Danso – 6.5, M – James Marcelin – 7, M – Alex Nimo – 6, M – Keith Savage – 6.5, M – Ryan Pore – 7.5, F – Bright Dike – 7.5, F – Takayuki Suzuki – 6.5

D – Quavas Kirk – 6.5, M – Rodrigo Lopez – 7, M – Johan Claesson – 6.5, M – Tony McManus – 6.5, F – Ibad Muhamadu – 6.5