Timbers U-23s capture Western Conference title

BREMERTON, Wash. – The Portland Timbers U-23s won the Premier Development League’s Western Conference championship on Sunday, defeating the Kitsap Pumas 2-1 in the conference final at Bremerton Memorial Stadium. Forward Ricky Abrego scored the game-winning goal as the Timbers U-23s advance to the PDL Final Four.

The Timbers U-23s will join the three other conference champions from around the PDL in the league’s championship tournament Aug. 6-7. Details regarding the PDL Final Four will be announced the coming days.

After two meetings during the regular season, the two Northwest rivals squared off for a third time on Sunday. The Timbers U-23s and Pumas exchanged goals in the first half to even the score at 1-1 until the final minutes of the contest. Abrego provided the late-game heroics with an 82nd-minute goal to give the Timbers U-23s their first conference title.

Abrego tallied his seventh goal of the season, forward Brian Ramsey scored his eighth on the campaign, midfielder Roberto Farfan logged an assist and goalkeeper Jake Gleeson managed another solid performance from the backline to guide the Timbers U-23s to their 18th consecutive win in 2010.

Defender Jamel Wallace recorded his first assist, defender Mark Lee provided the equalizing goal and goalkeeper Dustyn Brim turned in several key saves for the Pumas in just their third loss of the season; all three Kitsap losses in 2010 came at the hand of the Timbers U-23s.

Ramsey, who scored the game-winning goal against Kitsap on July 18, scored the go-ahead goal for the Timbers U-23s in the 24th minute. He hit a hard shot that worked its way through the hands, and legs, of Brim and across the goal line for a 1-0 Portland lead. The tally was Ramey’s third of the season against the Pumas.

The Pumas pulled even just before halftime on a strike by Lee. Wallace made a long run up the wing before sending in a sharp cross along the top of the six. Lee came crashing down the far side and buried the equalizer past Gleeson in the 42nd minute to knot the score at 1-1; it was the first goal scored by the Pumas in three games against the Timbers U-23s this season.

Entering the match as a substitute, Abrego was dangerous throughout the second half for Portland. With the match locked at 1-1, Abrego pulled the trigger on a shot in the 81st minute, which was punched over the end line by Brim. On the ensuing corner kick, Farfan served the ball into the box and Abrego hammered a header into the top right corner of the goal to put the Timbers U-23s on top 2-1.

The Timbers U-23s nearly took the lead in the 51st minute on a dangerous header by defender Ryan Kawulok. A long throw in from the right side connected with Kawulok in the box. He headed a shot past Brim, but Pumas defender Daniel Scott cleaned the ball off the line and Lee cleared the ball from danger to keep the score locked at 1-1.

Kitsap put the Timbers U-23s under pressure in second-half stoppage time, but Gleeson and defender Brock Granger were able to end a pair of chances for the Pumas to find a second equalizer.

Notes: The Timbers U-23s will join the Thunder Bay Chill, Reading United AC and the Baton Rouge Capitals in the PDL Final Four … Kitsap had just one shot on goal through the first 75 minutes against the Timbers U-23s defense … Portland improved to 3-0-0 against the Pumas in 2010 … Timbers U-23s defender Graham Dugoni was not available for championship match due to a one-game, league-imposed suspension for being sent off with two cautions in the conference semifinal Saturday.

Lineups:
POR: GK Gleeson, D Thompson (Crasilneck, 44), D Evans, D Kawulok, D Granger, M Hasson (Abrego, 61), M Braun, M Farfan, M Ogunyemi, F Ramsey (Drake, 89), F Richards

KIT: GK Brim, D Scott, D Wallace, D Lee, D Hyde, M Besagno (Hepple, 37), M Gray (Miley, 81), M Fishbaugher, M Friesen (Cascio, 65)(Mohn, 84), F Gordley (Phillips, 34), F Perdido (Silva, 73)

Scoring Summary:
POR: Ramsey, 24
KIT: Lee (Wallace), 42
POR: Abrego (Farfan), 82