Timbers win penalty-shootout thriller vs. Coventry City

PORTLAND, Ore. - Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar converted a penalty kick and scored again in a shootout to lead the Portland Timbers past English team Coventry City 4-3 on penalty kicks in front of 10,985 Saturday night at PGE Park.

After finishing 90 minutes knotted at 1-1, the Timbers emerged as victors by converting all four of their penalty kicks they faced. Coventry’s players missed their final two attempts to seal the victory for Portland.

The crowd was the fifth largest in Timbers history since the team joined the USL First Division in 2001.

With the win, the Timbers move to 3-5-3 all-time against British opponents, improving to 1-0-1 since the franchise returned to Portland.

After a brief conversation at midfield, Coventry led off the shootout by converting their first three shots, with Issac Osbourne, Andrew Whing and Liam Davis all finding the back of the net. Alcaraz-Cuellar, Tom Poltl, Alejandro Gutierrez and Byron Alvarez all converted for Portland while David McNamee and Claus Bech Jorgensen missed to end the match.

Coventry jumped out to an early lead when in the eighth minute, Dele Adebola got on the end of a cross at the edge of the Timbers penalty area. Adebola headed the ball down into the path of the on-rushing Jay Tabb, who froze Timbers keeper Josh Saunders before calmly slotting the ball into the bottom right corner and pushing Coventry ahead 1-0.

The Timbers evened the score in the 67th minute. Alcaraz-Cuellar took a corner kick on the far side of the field, sending the ball towards the penalty spot. Jorgensen tried to clear the ball for Coventry, but the ball hit his hand on the clearance and referee Yader Reyes immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Alcaraz-Cuellar stepped up to take the kick and sent goalkeeper Andy Marshall in the wrong direction before slotting the ball into the bottom-right corner and leveling the score at 1-1.

The Timbers had an opportunity in the 53rd minute when Poltl grabbed the ball and rushed downfield. Poltl reached the edge of the penalty area, and crossed the ball into the center, where forward Jaime Ambriz was making a run. Ambriz got on the end of the ball, but the linesman ruled him offside.

Up next, the Timbers travel to Charleston, S.C. to take on the Charleston Battery in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup. The teams face off on Wednesday, July 12, with kickoff scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (Pacific).

“This was certainly a great opportunity for us to gauge the standard of our team. Coventry City is very crisp, and has very sharp touches, especially for only being two weeks into their pre-season. Our team had plenty of good, solid play, and I think tonight’s result worked out very well. The win will go a long way for us, we’ve been having a bit of run of bad luck in the league, and this will certainly help lift team spirits. We’ve been practicing penalty kicks in training, and it paid off tonight.”

NOTES: The match was the first of a two-game U.S. tour for Coventry City … the team will also face off against the BYU Cougars before returning to England … samba band Lions of Batucada entertained the crowd before the match … defender Josh Brown played for the first time since suffering a groin strain on June 10 vs. Vancouver … goalkeeper Martin Hutton made his first appearance this season for the Timbers, coming on as a second-half sub and defending the goal in the shootout.

SCORING SUMMARY: POR: Alcaraz-Cuellar 67’ (pen.); COV: Tabb 8’ (Adebola).

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY: POR: Alcaraz-Cuellar (made), Poltl (made), Gutierrez (made), Alvarez (made); COV: Osbourne (made), Whing (made), Davis (made), McNamee (missed), Jorgensen (missed).

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY: POR: Brown YC (36’), Poltl YC (55’) COV: Hughes YC (21’), Whing YC (79’), Cameron RC (86’), Doyle YC (90’).

LINEUPS: COVENTRY: A. Marshall GK, A. Whing D, M. Hall D (McNamee 45’), M. Bischoff D, M. Heath D, M. Doyle M (Cameron 45’), A. Morrell F, S. Hughes M (Osbourne 45’), D. Adebola F (Davis 71’), G. McSheffrey F (Thornton 45’), J. Tabb M (Turner 77’).
PORTLAND: J. Saunders GK (Elfvin 45’, Hutton 85’), L. Morrison M, S. Bullen D (Alvarez 45’), H. Alcaraz-Cuellar M, L. Kreamalmayer F, A. Gutierrez M, M. Randolph D, S. Thompson D, M. Chisoni M (Poltl 45’), J. Ambriz F (McAthy 80’), J. Brown D.