Timbers start off on a good foot

PORTLAND, Ore. – After three seasons of slow starts, the Timbers knew they needed to get off to a fast one in 2004, and that’s exactly what they got from rookie Alan Gordon.

Gordon took a long pass from David Henning 30 seconds into the season and cashed in, finding the back off the net from 15 yards out, as the Timbers went on to defeat the Seattle Sounders 2-1 before 6,891 fans Saturday night at PGE Park.

The win was dually important for the Timbers, as it was the first of two qualifiers against Seattle for a berth in the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Timbers now lead the Sounders 2-1 on aggregate goals.

Saturday’s win was also the first season-opening win for the Timbers in four seasons.

It was a hotly contested, physical match throughout, as several altercations erupted between the rival clubs, culminating in a red-card ejection of Sounders’ defender Ryan Edwards for throwing an elbow to Gavin Wilkinson in the 42nd minute, leaving Seattle a man down for more than half the match.

In addition to the ejection, four cautions were dished out on the evening.

With the Timbers up 1-0, Byron Alvarez headed in an insurance goal in the 71st minute on a cross from Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, handing the Timbers a 2-0 advantage.

Alvarez’ goal turned out to be the difference-maker, as Kyle Smith scored on a pass from Jason Farrell in the 75th, cutting the deficit to 2-1 and spoiling the Timbers’ chances at a shutout.

Smith had a chance to equalize on a header earlier in the 34th minute, but had his attempt thwarted by Alcaraz-Cuellar and goalkeeper Josh Saunders.

The Timbers had to overcome a late flurry by the Sounders, who, despite having 10 players on the field, had some good scoring opportunities in the closing minutes of the match.

On tap for the Timbers is a match with the Calgary Mustangs on Thursday, May 13 at PGE Park.

SCORING SUMMARY: Gordon, 1st (Henning); Alvarez, 71st (Alcaraz-Cuellar); Smith, 75th (Farrell).

PENALTY SUMMARY: SEA Sleeth, YC (26th), Edwards, RC (42nd), Smith, YC (77th), Velez, YC (90th); POR Alcaraz-Cuellar, YC (29th).

LINEUPS: SEATTLE (0-1-0) Burpo GK, Jackson D, Scott D, Edwards D, Aristodemo M (Velez 45th), Brown M, Farrell M, Callahan M (Sawatzky 66th), Sleeth M (Nguyen 70th), Smith F (Jenkins 88th), Levesque F; PORTLAND (1-0-0) J. Saunders GK, Morrison D, Wilkinson D, Heinzen D, Henning D (Benedetti 13th), Bengard M, Alcaraz-Cuellar M, S. Saunders M, Sagare M, Gordon F, Alvarez F (Antoniuk 83rd).