Timbers end road trip with 1-0 loss to Rochester

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A first-half goal by midfielder Kenold Versailles proved to be the difference as the Portland Timbers had a three-game road trip come to a close with a 1-0 loss to the Rochester Rhinos on Wednesday at Auto Marina Stadium.

In a matchup featuring two of the top defenses in the USSF Division-2 Pro League, Versailles struck the eventual game-winning goal for the Rhinos in the 22nd minute. In the second half, the Timbers pushed hard for the equalizer, out-shooting Rochester 9-1 in the period. Portland midfielder Rodrigo Lopez had two shots on goal off of free kicks turned away by goalkeeper Neal Kitson in the final minutes to help the Rhinos hang on to the victory.

Kitson recorded six saves to earn the shutout, Versailles scored his first goal with the club and forward Issac Kissi logged an assist and two shots to lead Rochester (10-5-6, 36pts) to its 10th win of the season and to within two points of the league-leading Austin Aztex.

Midfielder Ryan Pore contributed a team-high three shots, while Lopez and forward Bright Dike each had two shots for the Timbers (7-7-6, 27pts); the three combined for seven of the team’s 10 shots on the night. Goalkeeper Steve Cronin recorded one of his four saves on a Rhinos penalty kick attempt early in the second half.

The first half featured a defensive battle, but the Rhinos were able to unlock the stalemate in the 22nd minute. Kissi worked the ball into the box from the left side, and held off his marker as he drove deep into the area. As he lost his balance, he knocked the ball out into open space, which set up Versailles for the strike. Versailles hit the ball with the outside of his foot and curled a 22-yard shot around the out-stretched arms of Cronin for the score.

The two sides combined for just four total shots in the first half, including the Timbers’ lone attempt by Dike late in the half that sailed just wide of the top left corner of the goal.

The second half was a different story as the game opened up; Portland attempted nine of its 10 shots on the night in the period. The stanza got off to a quick start as the Rhinos earned a penalty kick attempt in the early going.

On a ball played in, the Timbers were called for a foul in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Taken quickly, midfielder Ryan Heins aimed a low shot towards the right post. Cronin read the ball correctly and made the diving save, shutting the door on the Rhinos only shot in the second half.

Portland forced Kitson to make four of his saves in the second half, two coming on free kick attempts by Lopez in last 10 minutes of the match. In the 83rd minute, Dike was fouled inside of 30 yards to set up the midfielder’s first effort. Lopez sliced a shot over the Rhinos’ four-man wall and towards the left post. Kitson got to the ball just in time with a diving save to keep it from sneaking into the back of the net.

Two minutes into second-half stoppage time, Lopez had another chance on a free kick from right side. From 30 yards out, Lopez curled a shot heading toward the top right corner of the frame, forcing Kitson into another timely save to keep the ball out of the net.

Making his second league appearance since returning from injury, midfielder Keith Savage had a chance to pull the Timbers level in the 57th minute. From the top of the box along the left side, Savage laced a shot on target that seemed ticketed for the goal, but Kitson was able to get to it with a diving save to help Rochester maintain its one-goal advantage.

Portland caught a break in the 72nd minute, when the Rhinos had a goal called back due to an offside player.

The Timbers return home from their season-long, three-game road trip to play host to the NSC Minnesota Stars on Aug. 11 at PGE Park at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $12 and are available through the PGE Park box office area Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

Notes: Against Rochester, midfielder Johan Claesson made his first start for the Timbers since May 19. He missed 12 games during the season due to injury … Earlier in the day, the Timbers signed forward Ibad Muhamadu for the remainder of the 2010 season, pending league USSF approval … Portland finished its recent road trip with a 0-2-1 record … The Timbers have just two home games in August.

POR: GK Cronin, D Joy, D Danso, D Smith, D Purdy (Kirk, 73), M McManus (Savage, 38), M Marcelin, M Claesson (Josten, 55), M Pore, F Suzuki (Lopez, 83), F Dike

ROC: GK Kitson, D Sanfilippo, D Bellamy, D Roberts, D Greenfield (Hoxie, 89), M Rosenlund (Short, 74), M Montagalvan, M Versailles, M Hines (Hamilton, 64), F Spicer (Gore, 85), F Kissi (Costanzo, 79)

Scoring Summary:
ROC: Versailles (Kissi), 22