Timbers, Vancouver play to scoreless draw

PORTLAND, Ore. - Josh Saunders made five crucial saves as the Portland Timbers tied the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of 6,298 Saturday night at PGE Park.

Saunders, who is the Timbers’ career leader in shutouts with 21, collected his third clean sheet of the season.

Byron Alvarez and Luke Kreamalmeyer came close to scoring for the Timbers, who extended their unbeaten run to five games.

The Whitecaps (3-1-6, 15pts) threatened in the 11th minute when forward Joe Gjertsen broke free with just one defender to beat. Gjertsen outmaneuvered the Timbers defense, and launched a shot that Saunders was only able to deflect. Saunders backpedaled and pushed the ball out before it could cross the line and into the goal.

Gjertsen tested Saunders again in the 40th minute when he got a ball down the wing. Gjertsen crossed over and brought the ball up towards the penalty box before launching a shot towards the top corner from the edge of the area. Saunders made a leaping save, just getting a finger on the ball to send it over the bar and out for a corner.

Alvarez came close for the Timbers (4-4-3, 15pts) in the 61st minute after Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar sent a ball into the Whitecaps penalty area. Alvarez got a head on the ball, but he was ruled offside.

Kreamalmeyer launched a shot from distance in the 74th minute, but his attempt only found the arms of keeper Tony Caig.

Saunders made a game-saving save in the 85th minute after Steve Kindel put a header on target, which the Timbers keeper dove to push out of bounds.

The Timbers hit the road for three games in four days, beginning on Thursday, June 15 at Minnesota. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:35 p.m. (Pacific).

“Vancouver came out and showed us how good they were defensively; there’s a reason they’ve only let in seven goals in 11 games this season. But more importantly for me, with the young team that we’ve got, I think we’ve shown them that it’s no longer a situation where they can come in, play defensively, look for a counter-attack and expect to be successful. This was a very good battle between two very good sides. We’re not disappointed with a point, we’re still at the top of the table and we’re very happy to be there.”

NOTES: Saturday night was Comcast Family Night, with Arnold from Hey! Arnold and several Rugrats characters in attendance … Former Timber Jeff Clarke started for the Whitecaps in midfield … defender Josh Brown suffered a groin strain in the 20th minute and had to be substituted … Saturday’s crowd of 6,298 was a season high.


MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: POR: Goodfellow YC (45’), Gutierrez YC (58’); VAN: Jones YC (19’).

LINEUPS: VANCOUVER (3-1-6): T. Caig GK, S. Klien D, A. Cann D, D. Morris D, J. Jones D, J. Clarke M, J. Alberts M (Suarez 64’), M. Nash M (Donatelli 60’), S. Kindel M (Kambere 90’), J. Gjertsen F (Cucca 88’), S. Leslie F (Matondo 73’).
PORTLAND (4-4-3): J. Saunders GK, S. Thompson D, J. Goodfellow D, J. Brown D (Marcum 20’), M. Randolph D, M. Chisoni M, L. Kreamalmeyer M, L. Morrison M, H. Alcaraz-Cuellar M, D. McAthy F (Gutierrez 50’), B. Alvarez F (O. Bullen 68’).