Timbers draw even with Thunder

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers played the Minnesota Thunder to a 2-2 tie on goals from Scott Benedetti and Scot Thompson before 4,262 fans Friday night at PGE Park.

Midfielder Edwin Miranda assisted on both goals for the Timbers (1-0-1, 4pts), who travel to Seattle on Saturday to take on the rival Sounders at Qwest Field in the second of a two-game, back-to-back set.

The Thunder (0-0-1, 1pt) and Timbers have tied each other in their last three matches and meet again on Saturday, May 7, at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

Playing with a one-man disadvantage, Minnesota erased a 2-1 deficit in the 79th minute when Jeff Matteo threaded the ball on to Johnny Menyongar, who sailed in a shot from 12 yards out to salvage the draw.

The Thunder struck first in the 11th minute when Jay Alberts teed up a cross from the right side to Melvin Tarley, who headed the ball past Portland goalkeeper Josh Saunders for the 1-0 advantage.

The Thunder lead was brief, as Portland snapped back with two quick strikes in the 14th and 15th minutes, respectively.

Benedetti equalized the score, putting his foot onto a perfectly placed cross from Miranda and showing off an acrobatic, diving shot that found its way into the left side of the net.

Miranda assisted on the go-ahead goal as well, playing a free kick into the box and on to Thompson, who punched it past Thunder goalkeeper Joe Warren from point-blank for the 2-1 lead.

The going got rougher for Minnesota early in the second half, when Tarley was sent off with a red card in the 53rd for dissention, and the Thunder had to play a man down for the remainder of the match.

Portland’s best shot at a late goal came when Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar’s free kick found Gavin Wilkinson, who put a head on the ball and nearly trickled it over the goal line. A subsequent header attempt by Thompson on the resulting corner kick missed its mark to the left of target.

Saturday’s match at Seattle kicks off at 7 p.m. and can be heard live on KZNY AM-1010, in Spanish on KXMG AM-1150 and on the Internet at Oregonlive.com.

TIMBERS NOTES: The Timbers haven’t lost to the Thunder since July 25, 2003 … students from Glenwood Heights School in Battle Ground, Wash., were honored at halftime for their top fundraising efforts in this year’s “Pennies for Patients” drive, benefiting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society … the Timbers didn’t tie a match last season until Aug. 8 … Tarley, who drew a second-half red card, will be forced to sit out the Timbers-Thunder match on May 7 as a result.

SCORING SUMMARY: Tarley, 11’ (Alberts); Benedetti, 14’ (Miranda); Thompson, 15’ (Miranda); Menyongar, 79’ (Matteo).

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: MIN Tarley, RC (54’); POR Poltl, YC (43’).

LINEUPS: MINNESOTA (0-0-1) Warren GK, Diaz D (Vorenkamp 71’), Brunt D, Friedland D, Alberts M, Lara M (Peszneker 65’), Juarez M (Paye 79’), Tenoff M, Matteo M, Menyongar F, Tarley F; PORTLAND (1-0-1) J. Saunders GK, Morrison D, Wilkinson D, Thompson D, Alcaraz-Cuellar M, Heinzen M, Poltl M (Lines 85’), Miranda M (Arzate 77’), Winters M, Benedetti F (Afash 75’), Alvarez F.