Timbers get first win of 2006 season

PORTLAND, Ore. – Alejandro Gutierrez scored a first-half goal and Troy Ready sealed the victory with a strike in the 69th minute for the Portland Timbers in a 2-1 win against the Minnesota Thunder in front of 4,449 Saturday night at PGE Park.

The win was the first for Timbers head coach and general manager Chris Agnello, who assumed the position during the off-season.

Gutierrez put the Timbers (1-1-1, 4pts) in front in the 31st minute after striker Chad Bartlomé was taken down by Brett Branan in the penalty box. Referee Ben Chouaf wasted no time in pointing to the penalty spot, and Gutierrez sent Thunder goalkeeper Joe Warren in the wrong direction before calmly slotting the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.

Minnesota (1-1-0, 3pts) broke even in first-half stoppage time when a misguided pass in the Timbers’ penalty area fell to Thunder striker Nate Knox, who sent a hard shot past diving Timbers keeper Josh Saunders to knot the score at 1-1.

Ready scored the winning goal in the 69th minute after a shot from Byron Alvarez hit the post. The ball fell into the path of Ready, who slammed his shot home from close range.

The Timbers had a chance in the 13th minute when midfielder Luke Kreamalmeyer got the ball near midfield and brought it down the wing. His cross found the waiting Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar at the edge of the area, but Alcaraz-Cuellar was unable to control the ball and it was pushed wide of the target.

The Timbers almost got the first goal in the 30th minute when Drew McAthy beat several defenders on the edge of the box. He laid the ball off to strike partner Bartlomé, but his shot was just wide of the target.

Minnesota had a chance to even the score line in the 38th minute when Dustin Branan got a head on a free kick, but his header was pushed over the bar.

Next, the Timbers travel south to take on Miami FC on May 12. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (Pacific).

“It’s very emotional right now. Our first win of the season coming after a tough loss in Vancouver and an unlucky result last night, but tonight we got what we’re looking for. I think at every game you can see this team getting better and better, but this is a great step forward. It’s a very versatile team and I’m very proud of every one of them. I told the team at halftime that if we just go out onto the field and keep things simple, we’ll be in good shape.”

NOTES: Timbers goalkeeper Bayard Elfvin and striker Mamba Chisoni joined the team before the game, but neither participated in the game … midfielder Tom Poltl made his season debut for the Timbers but played only 27 minutes before being subbed … Portland native Josh Brown made his Timbers debut as a second-half substitute … Ready’s goal was his first as a professional.

SCORING SUMMARY: POR Gutierrez 31’ (pen.), Ready 69’ (UA); MIN Knox 45’ (UA)

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: POR Goodfellow YC (77’), Alvarez YC (85’); MIN Gibson YC (10’), D. Branan YC (31’), Friedland YC (90’).

LINEUPS: MINNESOTA (1-1-0) J. Warren GK, B. Branan D, C. Dombrowski D (Schmidt 74’), K. Friedland D, D. Branan D, C. Brisson M, L. Gibson M (Alvino 66’), M. Wilson M, K. Lara M (Paye 59’), N. Knox F, D. Tarley F.
PORTLAND (1-1-1) J. Saunders GK, J. Goodfellow D, S. Thompson D (Alvarez 63’), M. Nsien D, M. Randolph D, L. Morrison M, H. Alcaraz-Cuellar M (Miranda 63’), T. Poltl M, (Gutierrez 27’) L. Kreamalmeyer M, D. McAthy (Brown 87’), C. Bartlomé F (Ready 56’).