Timbers U-23s clinch playoff berth in win over Washington
CAMAS, Wash. – The Portland Timbers U-23s clinched a playoff berth in the Premier Development League’s Northwest Division with a 1-0 win over the Washington Crossfire before 2,056 fans at Doc Harris Stadium on Friday night. Forward Mark Sherrod scored the game-winning goal in the second half to extend the Timbers U-23s’ unbeaten streak to four matches.
The match was physical, featuring two teams contesting for a division playoff berth, but the Timbers U-23s were able to put Crossfire under pressure for most of the contest. Midfielder Nicholas Hamer delivered a sharply-placed cross from the right side to set up Sherrod’s decisive goal in the 69th minute. Washington was able to gain momentum late in the match, but the Timbers U-23s defense stood firm over the final 15 minutes to preserve the 1-0 win.
With the win, Portland becomes the third team in the Northwest Division clinch a playoff spot and moves into a two-way tie with the Kitsap Pumas for second place in the division standings.
Sherrod tallied his 10th goal of the season, Hamer recorded his first assist and goalkeeper Spencer Richey logged his third shutout to guide the Timbers U-23s (9-3-2, 29pts) to their fourth win in six games. Sherrod becomes just the third Timbers U-23s player in team history to record 10 or more goals in a single season.
Midfielder Zach Hammond attempted a team-high two shots and goalkeeper Andy Holte made four saves in the loss for Crossfire (8-6-1, 25pts). Washington plays host to the Timbers U-23s in the season finale for both teams on Wednesday, July 11.
Scrappy play by the Timbers U-23s in the midfield helped set up the game’s lone goal in the second half. After winning possession of the ball, Portland worked it down the right side to Hamer, who drove down the touchline before whipping in a cross. Sherrod was making a run in on the near post and connected with the ball, driving a header from the top of the goal box past Holte for the score and a 1-0 lead.
Crossfire made a late surge over the final 15 minutes of the match, attempting four of their six second-half shots over the final quarter-hour. Washington appeared to have found the equalizer in the 89th minute, knocking in a shot off a long free kick from midfield. But an offside call on Crossfire cancelled the play and the Timbers U-23s were able to defend their lead until the final whistle.
The Timbers U-23s had the run of play in the first half, putting pressure on Washington’s defense throughout the half and held a 9-1 advantage in shots heading into halftime. Portland had a chance to crack the deadlock in the 20th minute, when midfielder Roberto Farfan smashed a side-winding shot from near the penalty spot off the top left corner of the goal frame.
Portland’s defense held Washington to just single shot in the first half. Richey recorded two saves to earn the shutout, including one in the 17th minute, tipping an open look by Crossfire defender Jordan Burt from inside the box over the crossbar.
The Timbers U-23s play host to the Kitsap Pumas in their regular-season home finale, presented by Billups Worldwide, on Sunday at Hare Field in Hillsboro, Ore., at 6 p.m. (Pacific). Sunday’s fixture is part of a doubleheader featuring the Portland Rain of the Women’s Premier Soccer League and an adidas Timbers Alliance club against the Spokane Shine at 3 p.m.
Notes: The Timbers U-23s are the third team from the PDL’s Northwest Division to clinch a playoff berth, joining Seattle Sounders FC U-23 and the Kitsap Pumas; the top four clubs qualify for the postseason … With the win Friday, the Timbers U-23s move to 4-3-1 all-time against Washington, including a 1-1-0 mark in the 2012 season series between the two teams … Midfielder/defender Eric Miller made his first appearance in the Timbers U-23s Starting XI since May 26, returning from an ankle injury he sustained during a recent call-up with the U.S. U-20 National Team … Forward Mark Sherrod became the third Timbers U-23s player in team history to record 10 or more goals in a season, joining Brent Richards (2010) and Ryan Youngblood (2009) in accomplishing the feat … Portland forward Erik Hurtado had a four-game scoring streak come to an end on Friday … Midfielder Nicholas Hamer is the ninth different Timbers U-23s player to have recorded an assist in 2012 … Timbers U-23s defender Chris Harms was unavailable due to a one-game, league-imposed suspension for a red card he received at Victoria on June 30.
POR: Mark Sherrod (Nicholas Hamer), 69
WAS: Junior Sanchez (Caution), 26
POR: Eric Miller (Caution), 77
POR: GK Spencer Richey, D Evyn Hewett, D William Seymore, D Anthony Hobbs, D Eric Miller, M Andrew Ribeiro, M Steven Evans, M Roberto Farfan, M Cam Vickers (Nicholas Hamer, 66), F Mark Sherrod (Emery Welshman, 85), F Clark Phillips (Erik Hurtado, 51)
Subs not used: GK Justin Baarts, GK Keegan Rogers, D Reed Matte, M Joey De Mare
WAS: GK Andy Holte, D Junior Sanchez (Jose Ocampo, 83), D Jordan Burt, D Callum Whittaker (Sean Klauer, 77), D Nick James, M Brayton Knapp (Kellen Wantulok, 69), M Ben Fisk, M Thomas Chameraud, M Zach Hammond (Daniel Gray, 77), F Solomon Gold (Conner Moe, 57), F Nate Sackeyfio
Subs not used: GK Jake Feenor, M Nik Besagno