Timbers take giant step towards playoffs with 6-1 romp over Atlanta

PORTLAND, Ore. - Dan Antoniuk struck for a hat trick and Edwin Miranda scored two goals of his own, as the Portland Timbers moved closer to the playoffs with a 6-1 drubbing of the Atlanta Silverbacks before 5,361 Thursday night at PGE Park.

The victory eliminates Atlanta and Minnesota from postseason contention, leaving Puerto Rico as the only roadblock in Portland’s road to the playoffs. If Portland wins on Saturday, or Puerto Rico loses either of its final two games, the Timbers will count their fourth postseason appearance in five campaigns.

The six-goal outburst marked a season high for Portland (9-9-9, 36pts), which also collected its largest margin of victory of the year on Thursday.

In the 43rd, the Timbers began the onslaught when Antoniuk neatly controlled a long ball from Scot Thompson with his chest and calmly placed his shot beyond Silverbacks goalkeeper Joe Barton.

Byron Alvarez added the second strike on a breakaway in the 51st, sliding his shot underneath Barton as an on-rushing Machel Millwood failed to clear the ball off the goal line.

Just one minute after drawing a caution, Alex Pineda-Chacon got a goal back for the Silverbacks (9-15-3, 30pts) in the 57th, placing a one-timed shot into the back of the net on a cross from Rodrigo Rios.

But the Timbers proved too much for the Silverbacks when Antoniuk put away a rebound in the 72nd minute to make it 3-1.

Miranda added two unassisted goals in the 77th and 88th minutes respectively, collecting both strikes from point-blank range.

Antoniuk’s third and final goal of the evening was counted in the 90th minute of play, as the striker took a cross from Alvarez and dialed in his team-leading 12th goal of the season.

The Timbers wrap up the regular season with a match at PGE Park on Saturday, Sept. 10, versus the Richmond Kickers at 7 p.m. (Pacific).

TIMBERS NOTES: Gavin Wilkinson sat out Thursday’s contest with a red-card suspension … Paul Conway left the game late in the first half with a dislocated right elbow … the last time a Timber registered a hat trick was July 8, 2004, when Alan Gordon hit for three goals vs. Edmonton … the last time the Timbers tallied six goals occurred in the same game.

SCORING SUMMARY: Antoniuk, 43’ (Thompson); Alvarez, 51’ (UA); Pineda-Chacon, 57’ (Rios); Antoniuk, 72’ (UA); Miranda, 77’ (UA); Miranda, 88’ (UA); Antoniuk, 90’ (Alvarez).

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: ATL Pineda-Chacon, YC (56’), DeLima, YC (61’), Stone, RC (83’), McManus, YC (86’); POR Miranda, YC (58’), Goldthwaite, YC (67’).

LINEUPS: ATLANTA (9-15-3) Barton GK, de la Torre D (Stone 45’), Yi D (Chevalier 80’), DeLima D (Plute 70’), Hayes D, Murriagui M (Pineda-Chacon 45’), Afful M (Peoples 82’), McManus M, Millwood M, Rios F, Dawkins F; PORTLAND (9-9-9) Saunders GK, Goldthwaite D, Thompson D, Morrison D, Marcum D, Alcaraz-Cuellar M (Poltl 89’), Miranda M, Lines M, Winters M, Conway F (Alvarez 45’), Antoniuk F.