Timbers U-23s Host Kitsap Friday In Match To Determine U.S. Open Cup Berth
PORTLAND, Ore.– In a match with a 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup berth on the line, the Portland Timbers U-23s play host to rival the Kitsap Pumas on Friday at JELD-WEN Field at 11 a.m. as part of the team’s Health and Fitness School Day, presented by Providence Health & Services.
Friday’s regular-season matchup between Portland and Kitsap doubles as a tiebreaker for U.S. Open Cup qualification. The two teams finished with identical 3-0-1 records in U.S. Open Cup qualifying and finished even through all tiebreakers – total wins, goal differential and total goals – setting up a winner-takes-all match to represent the PDL’s Northwest Division in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup.
U.S. Soccer granted an extension on its qualification deadline to allow Friday’s match to determine which team will enter the tournament. The final tiebreaker was originally scheduled to be a lottery conducted at the league office. In the event of a tie Friday, the teams will decide the qualifying spot with penalty kicks.
The Timbers U-23s (3-1-1, 10pts) enter their matchup with the unbeaten Pumas on a four-match unbeaten streak and have shut out each of their last four opponents, including Kitsap in a scoreless road draw on May 21. Portland’s run of shutout play has spanned 395 consecutive minutes; the team last allowed a goal in its season opener May 7.
A brace from forward Miles Byass and a second shutout this season from goalkeeper Jason Dodson led the Timbers U-23s to a 2-0 win over the Tacoma Tide in their last match May 29, and with the win, the team remains in second place in the Northwest Division behind the Pumas (5-0-1, 16pts).
The Timbers U-23s and Pumas close out their two-game, 2011 regular-season series on Friday. Including the draw on May 21 in Kitsap, the Timbers U-23s are 3-1-2 all-time against the Pumas. Since losing the first meeting between the two sides back in 2009, the Timbers U-23s are unbeaten in five games against the Pumas, including wins in all three matchups in 2010.
Looking for their third straight U.S. Open Cup berth, the Pumas have opened the 2011 campaign on a six-game unbeaten run. With back-to-back wins over the Tacoma Tide and North Sound SeaWolves, the Pumas have out-scored their last two opponents by a combined score of 7-1. Midfielder Matt Friesen paces the team with five goals on the season, while goalkeeper Bryan Meredith has logged four shutouts in six games.
Kitsap has played in the last two U.S. Open Cup tournaments, reaching as far as the second round in 2010. The Timbers U-23s have come close to qualifying for the U.S. Open Cup in each of their first two PDL seasons, missing out by one point in 2009 and on tiebreakers in 2010.