Timbers U-23s make history with 2010 PDL title

PORTLAND, Ore. – Led by a two-goal performance from Brent Richards, the Portland Timbers U-23s won the 2010 Premier Development League Championship, defeating the Thunder Bay Chill 4-1 on Saturday at PGE Park. They become the first team in league history to finish a season as an undefeated champion.

In their second season of existence, the Timbers U-23s capped a historical 2010 campaign with a 20th straight victory, finishing with a perfect 20-0-0 record through the regular season and playoffs. At the end of the regular season, the Timbers U-23s became the first PDL team since 1998 to assemble a perfect 16-0-0 mark.

Richards was named the 2010 PDL Championship finals Most Valuable Player, contributing two goals in the second half to help the Timbers U-23s pull away from a tie contest. Midfielders Tracy Hasson and Freddie Braun bookended the Timbers U-23s’ scoring efforts, while defender Ryan Kawulok and midfielders Bim Oguyemi and Steven Evans provided assists.

A short-handed Chill received an equalizing goal from forward Gustavo Oliveira just before halftime to level the match at 1-1. Thunder Bay was reduced to 10 men in the 17th minute, when midfielder Rafa Heck was sent off for initiating a dangerous challenge. Forward Brandon Swartzendruber, the 2010 PDL scoring champion, paced the Chill with four shots.

It was a physical game from the start. Thunder Bay came out with an aggressive game plan and it led to the early ejection. While challenging for a ball in the air, Heck stuck a boot into the chest of Braun, knocking him to the turf. Heck was sent off with a straight red card by referee Maurizio Laudani and the Timbers U-23s took advantage, scoring four goals on the night – the most scored by a team in a PDL final.

With the match tied 1-1 at halftime, Richards’ second-half brace separated the Timbers U-23s from Thunder Bay. Named the 2010 PDL MVP on Friday, Richards headed in both of his goals on set pieces, with the first coming in the 51st minute.

A foul committed by the Chill set up a free kick for the Timbers U-23s 10 yards inside the midfield line on the left side. Evans, who came on in the first half for an injured Roberto Farfan, dropped a long ball into the box. Richards hammered a header from inside the six yard box past Thunder Bay goalkeeper Stephen Patterson to put the Timbers U-23s back on top 2-1.

The Timbers U-23s stretched their lead to 3-1 in the 62nd minute. On another long-range free kick, this time by Kawulok, Richards flicked the ball on frame with his head as he came slashing through the box. The ball skipped between defenders and over the goal line for the score; it was his 16th goal of the season.

Hasson, the Timbers U-23s team captain, staked his third goal on the campaign to open the scoring in the 30th minute and gave the Timbers U-23s a 1-0 lead. Ogunyemi, who scored in the team’s semifinal victory Friday, burst down the left side and bought time with a step-over move. He poked a cross into the center of the box, where Hasson had space. Hasson leapt up and drove a header inside the left post from 10 yards for the strike.

Down a man, Thunder Bay’s best scoring chances throughout the night came on set pieces, but it was a long punt by Patterson that led to the equalizer just before halftime. Against the run of play, a long pass up field bounced its way towards the Timbers U-23s’ box as Hasson and Oliveira gave chase. Hasson collided with teammate Brock Granger, leaving Oliveira alone with a one-on-one with Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. He snuck the equalizer into the bottom right corner of the goal, and the two sides entered halftime tied at 1-1.

In the 76th minute, defender Jordan Crasilneck was taken down hard in the box on a run down the left side, setting up the Timbers U-23s final goal of the night. Braun stepped to the plate and buried his low shot from the penalty-kick spot to secure the 4-1 win and add the 2010 PDL title to the Timbers U-23s’ Northwest Division and Western Conference championships in 2010.

Notes: Kawulok and Evans earned their first assists of the season … Evans won his second national championship in 2010, winning the U.S Youth Soccer U-18 National Championship with local club Eastside United FC in July … Portland midfielder Roberto Farfan exited the match with a shoulder injury in the 25th minute after he was taken down from behind on breakaway run … Prior to kickoff, Thunder Bay defender Wilson Neto was scratched from the starting lineup and was replaced by William Zardetto … Braun scored three goals in four postseason matches.

Third-place game recap: In the 2010 PDL Championship third-place match earlier in the day, the Baton Rouge Capitals claimed a victory over Reading United AC on penalty kicks. The two sides battled through a 2-2 draw, with all four goals coming in the first half. In the shootout, Capitals forward Ben Callon, who missed a penalty kick attempt in regulation, drilled home the decisive shot to send Baton Rouge home victorious in the consolation contest.

POR: GK Gleeson, D Crasilneck (Dorrego, 86), D Dugoni, D Kawulok, D Granger (Thompson 77), M Ogunyemi, M Farfan (Evans, 25), M Braun, M Hasson (Neilsen, 87), F Ramsey (Abrego, 62), F Richards (Drake, 83)

TBC: GK Patterson, D Robertson (Alvarez, 83), D Villalva, D Zardetto (Mayaleh, 86), D Buthelezi, M Heck, M Abegar, M Intermoia, F Marinez (Colaizzi, 24)(Montanye, 81), F Swartzendruber, F Oliveira

Scoring Summary:
POR: Hasson (Ogunyemi), 30
TBC: Oliveira, 45
POR: Richards (Evans), 51
POR: Richards (Kawulok), 62
POR: Braun (penalty kick), 76