Timbers shut out Thunder, 1-0

ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Portland Timbers shut down the Minnesota Thunder 1-0 behind a first-half goal by Alan Gordon and six saves by Josh Saunders in front of 2,130 Tuesday evening at James Griffin Stadium.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak and gave the Timbers (8-3-0, 24pts) sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.

It was the first home loss of the year for Minnesota (6-2-3, 21pts), who faced a 3-6-1 Portland formation that included Edwin Miranda and Andrew Gregor in the starting lineup for the first time this season.

The Timbers gained their third shutout of the 2004 campaign behind the play of Saunders, who recorded six saves and faced 25 shots while playing with an injured left-hip suffered in Portland’s loss to Rochester last week.

It was questionable whether Saunders would be able to play on the road trip, which concludes Wednesday night in Milwaukee.

The Timbers got on the board in the 31st minute when Minnesota goalkeeper Joe Warren came out of position to prevent a corner kick and slipped on the ball, allowing Gordon to pick it up and dial in the unchallenged, unassisted goal from the left side of the box.

The goal was Gordon’s league-leading 11th of the season and only the fourth given up by Warren all year.

Desperate for a goal late in the game, Minnesota turned up the pressure in the waning minutes and came close to tying the match several times, including in the 90th minute, when Melvin Tarley broke free for an open look at the goal, only to have Timbers defender Lee Morrison make a kick save over the end line.

Tarley had an opportunity to score earlier in the 18th, getting free for a one-on-one battle with Saunders, who made the save to avert danger. Tarley tallied another chance later in the 41st, unleashing a left-footed shot inside of 10 yards that ricocheted off the left goalpost.

Aaron Heinzen had a chance to add on another goal for the Timbers in the 49th, playing a give-and-go with Gordon, but Warren managed the save.

The Timbers will look to make it two straight Wednesday night at Milwaukee, where they’ll face the Wave United in a 5:35 p.m. (Pacific) start time.

SCORING SUMMARY: Gordon, 31’ (UA).

PENALTY SUMMARY: POR Wilkinson, YC (39’), Miranda, YC (66’); MIN Branan, YC (14’), Matteo, YC (36’), Brunt, YC (88’).

LINEUPS: PORTLAND (8-3-0) J. Saunders GK, Morrison D, Wilkinson D, Henning D, Heinzen M, Winters M, Miranda M, Bengard M, Gregor M, Sagare M, Gordon F; MINNESOTA (6-2-3) Warren GK, Brunt D, Friedland D, Branan D, Matteo M, Alberts M, Wilson M, Vorenkamp M (Morehead 79’), Ferruzzi M (Magee 82’), Tarley F, Menyongar F.