MONTREAL, Que. – First-half goals by midfielder Leonardo Di Lorenzo and forward Peter Byers guided the Montreal Impact to a 2-0 victory over the Portland Timbers on Monday night at Saputo Stadium.
Di Lorenzo and Byers each found their third goal of the season in the opening period and goalkeeper Matt Jordan logged his eighth shutout of the season for the Impact in their first win over the Timbers in Montreal since 2001. Montreal (11-10-5, 38pts) extends its unbeaten streak to five matches in league play.
Six different players took shots for the Timbers, who ended a two-game road trip with their second straight loss despite matching the Impact with six shots a piece. Monday’s game in Montreal was Portland’s third in a string of four games in eight days.
Even with the loss, the Timbers (7-11-10, 31pts) claimed the season series against the Impact and remain in ninth place in the USL First Division. Portland sits just two points behind the Minnesota Thunder in the final playoff spot. The top seven clubs advance to the postseason.
Montreal quickly gained possession in the early going and took advantage of a corner kick in the 13th minute to take the lead.. From the corner, forward Joey Gjertsen sent the ball into the box, but his effort was headed away by a Timbers defender out to Di Lorenzo at the top of the arc. On his first touch, he cracked a 25-yard shot inside the top corner of the goal to give the Impact their first lead in three matches against the Timbers.
As the game settled in, the Timbers gained the run of play late in the first half and narrowly missed chances around the goal. Minutes after going down by a goal, midfielder Miguel Guante served a cross that bounced through the box out to Bryan Little running down the left side of the field. Little unleashed a shot from 15 yards out that missed just high.
Forward Takayuki Suzuki provided an opportunity for forward Byron Alvarez in the final five minutes of the first half at an open look on the back side. But Alvarez, running at the back post, was a step shy of catching Suzuki’s cross through the box and the ball rolled out of play.
But in the final minute of the first half, Montreal added an insurance goal as Byers capped off a 45 yard breakaway with his third goal in four games. He received the ball near midfield and fought through a pack of Portland players to earn the breakaway. With defenders on his heals, Byers pulled the trigger on a low shot from 12 yards out to give the Impact a 2-0 advantage in the 45th minute.
Portland continued to control the run of play for much of the second half and the backline held Montreal to only three shots on goal. Timbers head coach Gavin Wilkinson used four subs throughout the second half adding attacking players in forwards Jamil Walker and Chris Bagley and midfielder Lawrence Olum in hope of finding the back of the net. But at the final whistle, the Timbers could not connect on any of their four shots in the final period and Montreal held on for the victory.
The Timbers return home on Thursday for their regular-season home finale against the Charleston Battery at PGE Park at 7 p.m. Thursday’s match is Portland’s annual Fan Appreciation Night featuring the Jersey-Off-Our-Back silent auction presented by Fred Meyers. Tickets start at $11 and are available through the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (503) 224-4400.
Notes: The Timbers were 2-1-0 against Montreal in 2008 … Monday marked the Timbers first defeat in Montreal in four matches dating back to 2001 … Portland had not lost back-to-back league matches since the end of May … The Timbers have been shut out 12 times this season … With the win, Montreal slides into fifth place in the standings ... With Monday's result, the Rochester Rhinos clinched a postseason spot.
POR: GK Harrison, D S. Thompson, D Higgins, D J. Thompson, D Knowles, M Poltl (Dombrowski, 63), M Brown, M Little (Bagley, 86), M Guante (Olum, 63), F Alvarez (Walker, 62), F Suzuki
MON: GK Jordan, D Braz, D Joqueviel (Aguilera, 90), D Pesoli, D Surprenant, M Gatti, M Di Lorenzo, M Donatelli (Brillant, 55), M Gregory (Ribiero, 61), F Gjertsen (Uwimana, 77), F Beyers
MON: Di Lorenzo, 13
MON: Byers, 45