VICTORIA, B.C. – Forward Ricky Abrego netted the game-tying goal in the 59th minute helping the Portland Timbers U-23s earn a 1-1 draw with the Victoria Highlanders in a Premier Development League match on Saturday night at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria, B.C.
After going down a goal in the 48th minute, Portland rallied as a strong through pass from midfielder Brent Richards helped release Abrego through the center of the Victoria defense giving the forward a clear shot on goal which he slipped by the goalkeeper to knot the score at 1-1 with just over 30 minutes remaining in the match.
The goal, Abrego’s fourth of the season, helps keep the Timbers U-23s mathematically in contention for the final Northwest Division playoff spot currently held by the Highlanders (7-4-3, 24 points). Portland, which saw its record move to 5-5-4 overall, sits on 19 points with two games remaining in the season.
Goalkeeper Garrett Staples started the match for the Timbers U-23s, helping keep Victoria off the scoreboard before having to be substituted off at halftime after taking a shot off his face near the end of the first half. Jason Dodson replaced Staples in goal and allowed the Highlanders’ go-ahead goal.
Victoria took a 1-0 lead after forwards Jared Stephens and Josh Heard combined on a counterattack with Heard slotting the ball into an open net after Dodson was drawn out of the goal.
The result extends Portland’s winless streak to four games as Victoria managed to outshoot Portland 15-13; the Timbers U-23s held an 11-4 advantage on corner kicks.
The Timbers-U23s, with a 1-3-3 record through their last seven games including an 0-2-2 record against Canadian sides this season, head to Redmond, Wash., tomorrow (Sunday, July 17) to face the Washington Crossfire in a 5 p.m. kickoff at Redmond High School.
The Crossfire are coming off a 4-2 home loss to Abbotsford on Friday.
Portland Timbers U-23s (5-5-4, 19 points) at Victoria Highlanders (7-4-3, 24 points)
July 16, 2011 – Royal Athletic Park
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland 0 1 1
Victoria 0 1 1
VIC – Heard (Stephens), 48
POR – Abrego (Richards), 59
POR: GK Staples (Dodson, 45); Matte, Kawulok, Tucker-Ganges, Gonzalez; Ogunyemi (Iwasaki, 75), Palodichuk, Richards, Hasson (Morris, 60); Abrego (Bowen, 70), Byass (Esteves, 66)
VIC: GK Stiles; T. Hughes, Pearson, Van Den Boomen, Wragg; Gray, J. Hughes (Eng, 75); Burbeary, Dixon, Stephens, Heard (Marousek, 66)