Timbers U-23s vs Kitsap June 3 2011
Photo by Miranda Chrislock

Timbers U-23s fall short in 3-2 loss to Kitsap

PORTLAND, Ore. – Forward Brent Richards and midfielder Nick Palodichuk each scored in the second half, but two goals from forward Robbie Christer throughout the match lifted the Kitsap Pumas to a 3-2 victory over the Portland Timbers U-23s before 4,754 at JELD-WEN Field on Friday afternoon.

On a special Health and Fitness School Day, presented by Providence Health & Services, the crowd of 4,754 set a new Timbers U-23s single-game attendance record.

The regular-season match between Portland and Kitsap doubled as a final tiebreaker for qualification in to the 2011 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup; the two sides had finished qualification tied through three tiebreakers. For a second straight season, the Pumas edged the Timbers U-23s on tiebreakers to earn a berth into the U.S. Open Cup tournament.

Down by two goals at halftime, the Timbers U-23s were able to fight their way back into the match as Richards pulled one back at 2-1 with a goal in the 54th minute. Kitsap built a 3-1 lead on Christner’s second goal of the day six minutes after the hour mark, but then had forward Brian Burke sent off with a straight red card in the 72nd minute. The Timbers U-23s took advantage of the extra man and were able to again cut the deficit back down to one at 3-2 on Palodichuk’s goal in the 80th minute, but Kitsap was able to escape with their first win in Portland.

The Timbers U-23s had a chance to chip away at the Pumas’ lead in the 75th minute when the team was awarded a penalty kick after forward Ricky Abrego was taken down inside the box. Forward Miles Byass had his attempt from the spot stopped by goalkeeper Bryan Meredith, and on the rebound, Byass knocked a shot back into the midsection of Meredith, keeping the score in Kitsap’s favor 3-1.

Christner scored his second and third goals of the season, Meredith finished with three saves, midfielder Nik Besagno scored his first on the campaign and defender Daniel Scott recorded an assist to push the Pumas’ (6-0-1, 19pts) season-opening unbeaten streak to seven games.

Richards tallied his fourth goal of the season, Palodichuk scored his first goal as a member of the Timbers U-23s and defender Steven Evans recorded his first assist for the Timbers U-23s (3-2-1, 10pts). Portland had a four-game unbeaten and shutout streak come to an end in the loss.

The Pumas jumped out a 2-0 lead before halftime, receiving the go-ahead goal on Christner’s header in the 20th minute as he finished a cross from deep in the right corner by midfielder David Gray. On a scrambled play in the 32nd minute, Besagno put a side-winding shot off the bottom of the crossbar, which deflected down and just crossed over the goal line before the Timbers U-23s could clear it out, giving Kitsap a two-goal advantage before the break.

Evans, playing on the backline against Kitsap, connected with Richards in the 54th minute as the Timbers U-23s pulled to within one at 2-1. From the left side, Evans served in a long cross for Richards on the back post. Falling away from his defender, Richards headed the ball through traffic and by Meredith for his team-leading fourth goal of the season.

The Pumas regained their two-goal advantage at 3-1 in the 66th minute, when Christner punched in a shot from inside the box. Off a free kick, Scott was able to control a deflection and passed the ball out to Christner on the right side 12 yards out from goal. The forward slotted the ball inside the near post between Timbers U-23s goalkeeper Jason Dodson and defender Ryan Kawulok, both racing back to the post.

Kitsap’s Burke was sent off in the 72nd minute as a result of a hard challenge on Kawulok and the Timbers U-23s responded with a goal eight minutes later. Palodichuk took control of a loose ball and charged up field 15 yards before ripping a shot off from the top of the box. His low drive sailed past Meredith and into the back of the net and pulling the Timbers U-23s back to within a goal at 3-2.

The Timbers U-23s had a handful of last-minute efforts fall short. Byass has a cross roll along the top of the six yard box, just missing two runners crashing through the box in the 85th minute. Four minutes later, forward Erik Hurtado had a header from six yards out bounce into the hands of Meredith.

Dodson made a great save in second-half stoppage time to keep the Timbers U-23s within a goal, coming off his line to make a sliding stop on an attack by Kitsap.

After three straight matches at home, the Timbers U-23s face a three-game road stretch, starting Wednesday, June 8, at the Tacoma Tide at 7 p.m. The team then travels to British Columbia to take on the Abbotsford Mariners on June 11 and Vancouver Whitecaps Residency on June 12.

Notes: The Timbers U-23s had a five-game unbeaten run against Kitsap come to an end in the loss. The Timbers U-23s had not lost a match to the Pumas since the first-ever meeting between the two teams back in 2009 … Pumas midfielder Matt Friesen put a free kick off the woodwork in the 55th minute … The Timbers U-23s are the first team in 2011 to score multiple goals against Kitsap … Portland saw its run of shutout play end at 415 minutes on Christner’s goal in the 20th minute … The last time the Timbers U-23s had allowed three goals in a match was July 23, 2009, in a playoff loss to the Seattle Wolves … Making their Timbers U-23s debuts Friday were Hurtado and defender Luis Esteves.

Scoring Summary:
KIT: Christner (Gray), 20
KIT: Besagno, 32
POR: Richards (Evans), 54
KIT: Christner (Scott), 66
POR: Palodichuk, 80

POR: GK Dodson, D Kawulok, D Evans, D Gonzalez, D Morris (Esteves, 70), M Palodichuk, M Hasson (Hurtado, 45), M Farfan (Matte, 78), M Ogunyemi (Abrego, 71), F Bowen (Byass, 38), F Richards

KIT: GK Meredith, D Lee, D Mohn, D Scott, D Hyde, M Hepple (Andre, 86), M Gray (Miley, 90+), M Friesen, M Besagno (Fauske, 71), F Christner (Perdido, 76), F Burke