Timbers U-23s top Whitecaps FC U-23s in penalty-kick shootout to advance in postseason
CAMAS, Wash. — The Portland Timbers U-23s defeated the Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 in a penalty-kick shootout, 5-4, in a Premier Development League divisional playoff match on Tuesday night at Doc Harris Stadium and advance to the Western Conference championships this weekend in Ventura, Calif. The two division rivals finished regulation and 30 minutes of overtime locked in a 1-1 draw.
The Timbers U-23s next face the Southwest Division-champion Fresno Fuego in the conference semifinal Saturday at Ventura College at 7:30 p.m. (Pacific). The two semifinal winners will square off Sunday for the Western Conference title at Ventura College at 5 p.m. (Pacific).
Scoreless at halftime, the match opened up in the second half, and the Timbers U-23s claimed the lead in the 68th minute on a goal by forward Clark Phillips. Portland’s defense, which led the Northwest Division in fewest goals allowed during the regular season, kept the Whitecaps FC U-23 attack at bay until the 83rd minute, when midfielder Bobby Jhutty slotted home the equalizer.
The Timbers U-23s forced Whitecaps FC U-23 goalkeeper Simon Thomas to make four of his six saves on the night during the 30 minutes of overtime, but the two teams remained deadlocked at 1-1.
In the penalty-kick shootout, both teams converted their first four chances from the spot before Whitecaps FC U-23 defender Samuel Adekugbe lifted his attempt over the crossbar. Goalkeeper David Meves took the fifth and final attempt for the home side and converted the winning penalty kick to help the Timbers U-23s advance to the conference semifinals for the third time in the last four seasons.
The Timbers U-23s defense held the Whitecaps FC U-23, who finished with 30 goals in 14 games during the regular season, to just 10 shots over 120 minutes of play.
The Timbers U-23s staked a 1-0 lead on Phillips’ fourth goal of the season. Midfielder Eric Miller delivered a cross from deep in the left corner that was played back across goal by defender Anthony Hobbs on the back post, setting up Phillips for a header from the doorstep.
Portland attempted 10 of its 18 shots in the second half and had chances to extend their lead, including one by forward Jaime Velasco in the 74th minute from inside the box on a quick counter that nearly grazed the left post.
The Whitecaps FC U-23, who ended the regular season on a five-game unbeaten streak, pulled level seven minutes from full time as a quick buildup led to an attacking run by midfielder Cam Hundal up the middle of the park. Hundal slipped a pass to Jhutty at the top right side of the box, and Jhutty picked out the bottom left corner of the goal and beat Meves with a low shot.
Both goalkeepers made key saves in the final minutes of regulation to force overtime. Timbers U-23s midfielder John McFarlin was played in on goal and had a clean look from inside the box pushed wide as Thomas charged off his line. Meves then smothered an attempt on goal by Whitecaps FC U-23 forward Niall Cousens from inside the area.
Thomas made another save on an open look by McFarlin from inside the box in the 103rd minute, going to ground to stop a low shot aimed for the near post. Perhaps Thomas’ biggest save came at the end of the first overtime period in the 105th minute. Timber U-23s forward Reed McKenna unleashed a 23-yard free kick aimed at the top right corner of the goal, but Thomas was able to push the curling ball wide of the target with a diving save.
Notes: The Timbers U-23s have reached the Western Conference semifinal for a second straight season … Timbers U-23s forward Jaime Velasco exited the match in the 88th minute after sustaining a knee injury and was helped off the pitch … Forward Anthony Machionne replaced Velasco and became the first Timbers Academy player to see minutes in league play for the Timbers U-23s … The Timbers U-23s improve to 8-1-2 all-time against the Whitecaps FC U-23s since joining the PDL in 2009 … The other Western Conference semifinal pits the Northwest Division champs Victoria Highlanders FC against the Ventura County Fusion on Saturday at 5 p.m. (Pacific).
POR: Phillips (Hobbs), 68
VAN: Jhutty (Hundal), 83
Round 1: VAN – Jhutty (Goal); POR – Barnes (Goal)
Round 2: VAN – Plavisc (Goal); POR – McKenna (Goal)
Round 3: VAN – Visintin (Goal); POR – Miller (Goal)
Round 4: VAN – Cousens (Goal); POR – Ribas (Goal)
Round 5: VAN – Adekugbe (Miss); POR – Meves (Goal)
POR: Barnes (Caution), 44
VAN: Adekugbe (Caution), 62
VAN: Plavsic (Caution), 79
VAN: Lakhan (Caution), 79
POR: Greer (Caution), 110
VAN: Cousens (Caution), 117
POR: GK David Meves, D Anthony Hobbs, D J.J. Greer, D Bryan Gallego (Alex Walters, 71), D Evyn Hewett, M Zach Barnes, M Jose Ribas, M Eric Miller, F Clark Phillips (Jaime Velasco, 73) (Anthony Machionne, 88), F Reinaldo Brenes (John McFarlin, 49), F Reed McKenna
Subs not used: GK Paul Blanchette, M Jesse Garcia, M Foster Langsdorf
VAN: GK Simon Thomas, D Colton O’Neill, D Michael Winter, D Kevin Cobby (Sasa Plavsic, 72), D Samuel Adekugbe, M Harry Lakhan, M Bobby Jhutty, M Cam Hundal, M Marco Visintin, F Yassin Essa (Spencer DeBoice, 79), F Niall Cousens
Subs not used: GK Marco Carducci, M Peter Bow