Timbers down Puerto Rico on late goal by Pore

PORTLAND, Ore.  – On a celebratory night at PGE Park, midfielder Ryan Pore scored a late game-winning goal and goalkeeper Steve Cronin logged his 10th shutout of the season as the Portland Timbers downed the Puerto Rico Islanders 1-0 before 15,418 on Thursday.

The sellout crowd witnessed and celebrated the Timbers’ regular season-home finale and final home match at PGE Park as a member of the USSF Division-2 Pro League. With their fifth sellout of the season, the Timbers set a new modern-franchise record for regular-season attendance at 155,006 and welcomed their one millionth fan to the venue since 2001. Portland will join Major League Soccer in 2011 and will play its inaugural season in North America’s top flight in a newly remodeled PGE Park.

The late game-winner by Pore in the 83rd minute was backed by a solid defensive performance by the Timbers backline. Portland held Puerto Rico to just four shots on the night, paving the way for Cronin to earn a second straight shutout with only a single save.

Pore scored his league-leading 15th goal of the season and found the back of the net for a second consecutive game, forward Doug DeMartin recorded his second assist and midfielder Johan Claesson provided a pair of shots as the Timbers (11-7-8, 41pts) extended their unbeaten streak to six games.

Goalkeeper Bill Gaudette logged three saves and forward Nick Addlery took all four shots for the Islanders (8-8-8, 32pts), who has a nine-game unbeaten streak come to a close. Portland handed Puerto Rico its first loss since July 11.

The Timbers remain in third place in the USL Conference, but continues to close the gap on the second-place Austin Aztex (46pts). Portland also remains in fourth place in the overall league standings, but the win gives the club the third-highest points total in the league, surpassing the NASL Conference-leading Vancouver Whitecaps (40pts).

Over the course of each half, the Timbers gained momentum and found their best chances at the end of the period. With his fourth shot of the night, Pore would help the Timbers unlock the stalemate just seven minutes from time.

Defender Ian Joy started the buildup down the left side with a leading pass for DeMartin up the touch line. DeMartin took the ball down into the left corner and held off his defender before making a cut inside the box. The rookie sliced in a sharp cross across the six yard box as Pore came crashing though from the far side. Muscling off his marker, Pore lunged forward and drilled a diving header into the back of the net to lift the Timbers to a late 1-0 lead.

It was a physical contest between two teams entering the match on extended unbeaten runs. The Timbers and Islanders battled through a hard-fought first half, trading hard tackles and challenges in the air. The grind-it-out style of the first half left scoring chances at a premium, but the Timbers earned their opportunities late.

Pore had a golden opportunity to put the Timbers on the board in the 45th minute. He received the ball just outside the box along the right post. He worked his way to the middle of the field and then fired a rocket of a shot towards the top corner. Gaudette made a sprawling save to keep the ball out. Claesson then tried to hammer home a follow-up attempt, but Gaudette was able to recover and blocked the shot with a sliding save.

In first-half stoppage time, Pore set up midfielder Keith Savage for a chance at an open look. Ten yards out from goal, Savage took one touch too many and had the ball poked away by Puerto Rico defender David Hourst, ending the threat.

Before finding the back of the net in the second half, Pore put Gaudette to work in the 75th minute. Claesson threaded a long pass up field to set Pore up for a short run to the top of the area. From the left side he drove a shot at the top far corner and Guadette got a finger tip on the ball to push it just wide of the mark.

The Timbers will play their remaining four regular-season matches on the road, starting Saturday, Sept. 11, against the Carolina RailHawks. The USSF Division-2 Pro League playoffs begin in early October.

Notes: The Timbers' one millionth fan at PGE Park since 2001 was Jeff Whitman ... Pore’s goal was his third in four games … Portland defender Steve Purdy left the match in the ninth minute after he was injured during a set piece. He was replaced by Scot Thompson … Earlier in the day the Timbers named Thompson the club’s 2010 Community Player of the Year for his work in the community throughout the season … Portland improved to 6-1-1 against the Islanders at PGE Park … The Timbers Army, the club’s supporters group, gave each of the players a sunflower, a commemorative t-shirt and a custom banner in a post-game celebration.

Lineups:
POR: GK Cronin, D Joy, D Smith, D Keel, D Purdy (Thompson, 9), M Marcelin, M Pore (McManus, 86), M Savage (Alhassan, 64), M Claesson (Suzuki, 84), F Muhamadu (DeMartin, 67), F Dike

PRI: GK Gaudette, D Martinez, D Velez, D Hourst, D Villaroel, M Salem, M Daniel (Fana, 63), M Teleford, F Foley (Jagdeosingh, 81), F Addlery, F Hansen (Gbandi, 74)

Scoring Summary:
POR: Pore (DeMartin), 83

Timbers player ratings (as submitted by members of the Portland media; scale 1-10):
Starters
GK – Steve Cronin – 8, D – Stephen Keel – 8, D – Ian Joy – 7.5, D – Ross Smith – 7.5, D – Steve Purdy – *N/A, M – Johan Claesson – 8, M – James Marcelin – 8.5, M – Keith Savage – 7, M – Ryan Pore – 8.5, F – Bright Dike – 7.5, F – Ibad Muhamadu – 7

Subs
D – Scot Thompson – 7.5, M – Tony McManus – 7, F – Doug DeMartin – 7.5, F – Kalif Alhassan – 7.5, F – Takayuki Suzuki – 7.5

*Steve Purdy started but came out of the game early due to injury