CARY, N.C. – Forward Bryan Jordan scored his fifth goal of the season and goalkeeper Josh Wicks earned his league-leading 13th shutout as the Portland Timbers defeated the Carolina RailHawks 1-0 on Saturday at SAS Soccer Park. The win pushes Portland back into first place in the USL First Division.
With the win, the Timbers (14-5-8, 50pts) snapped Carolina’s two-game winning streak and climb back into first place with a two-point lead over the Seattle Sounders. Portland has won three of its last four matches.
Carolina (7-11-8, 29pts) continues to cling to the eighth and final playoff position owning the tie breaker over the Charleston Battery also with 29 points.
Wicks made six saves against the RailHawks to record his league-leading 13th win and 13th shutout on the season. Five of Wicks’ six saves came in the second half as Portland’s defense was under constant pressure by Carolina. The RailHawks outshot the Timbers 15-6.
The Timbers played without midfielders Andrew Gregor (quadricep), Neil Dombrowski (knee) and Shaun Higgins (broken hand) Saturday night due to injury.
Portland broke the stalemate in the 80th minute on a goal by Jordan. Midfielder Tom Poltl started the play from the top of the box and sent the ball wide to Luke Kreamalmeyer deep in the right corner. Under pressure, Kreamalmeyer skipped a cross to Jordan running at the near post with a defender on his heels. Jordan was able to get a touch on the ball and redirect it towards the far corner for a 1-0 lead.
Portland started the match strong forcing Carolina goalkeeper Chris McClellan to make early saves on shots by forward Matt Taylor and midfielder David Hague. In the 29th minute, a 25-yard free kick by Hague was denied with a diving effort by McClellan.
Late in the first half and throughout the remainder of the match, Carolina controlled the run of play putting pressure on the Timbers defense. Near the 60th-minute mark, forward Kevin Jeffrey forced a one-on-one with Wicks as they raced to a through ball in the box. But Wicks was able to secure the ball before Jeffrey could get a shot off. Minutes later, midfielder Santiago Fusilier blasted a shot on frame but Wicks was there to deny the attempt.
Timbers midfielder Lawrence Olum and Jordan each had scoring chances in the box in the closing minutes of the match. Taylor tried to set up Jordan from eight yards out, but Jordan could not catch up to Taylor’s pass and the ball was cleared by McClellan. Olum worked the ball to space inside the penalty box, but his shot from across his body towards the near post skipped wide and out of play.
The first-place Timbers conclude their 2007 regular-season schedule on Sept. 9 against the Vancouver Whitecaps at Swangard Stadium at 4 p.m. A live broadcast of the match will be available at www.portlandtimbers.com.
Portland returns home on Sept. 16 for their first-round, home playoff match at PGE Park at 5 p.m. Tickets, starting at $12, are on sale now at the PGE Park box office, Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (503) 224-4400. The Timbers’ first-round opponent has yet to be determined.
Notes: The Timbers are 6-5-2 on the road this season … Kreamalmeyer earned his third assist of the season on Jordan’s goal. He is now second on the team in assists … Portland is 2-0-2 in matches without Gregor, the team captain and leading scorer ... Higgins suffered his broken hand in the match against Miami on Aug. 25.
POR: GK Wicks, D S. Thompson, D Griffin, D Knowles, D J. Thompson, M Olum, M Hague (Lara, 67), M Kreamalmeyer, M Poltl, F Bagley (Jordan, 62), F M. Taylor (Ready, 89)
CAR: GK McClellan, D Norkus, D Dombrowski, D Stokes, D Sanfilippo, M Kupono, M Brightwell (Bailey, 81), M Fusilier (Worthen, 66), M Carrieri (Cephas, 85), F Edozien, F Jeffrey (Jonas, 73)
POR: Jordan (Kreamalmeyer), 80