Timbers face Atlanta in semifinal series this weekend

PORTLAND, Ore.The Portland Timbers will battle the Atlanta Silverbacks in the semifinal round of the 2007 USL First Division playoffs this weekend. The Timbers will host the second match of the two-game, total-goals series on Sunday at PGE Park, presented by OHSU, at 5 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel.
The semifinal series begins on Friday at Re/Max Greater Atlanta Stadium in Atlanta at 4:55 p.m. (Pacific). Both matches of the semifinal series will be broadcast live on www.portlandtimbers.com.
Playoff tickets for Sunday’s match start at $12, and are available at the PGE Park Box office, area Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (503) 224-4400.
The Timbers’ league-leading defense will be tested against Atlanta’s league-leading offense. The Silverbacks led the league in scoring with 40 goals in 28 matches while Portland’s defense allowed the fewest goals in the league this season (18) and recorded a league-high 15 shutouts.
The Timbers are 3-3-1 all-time in regular-season matches against the Silverbacks, but the two sides have never met in the postseason. This year, the Timbers are 1-0-1 against Atlanta with two shutouts. Portland recorded a 1-0 win in Atlanta in late July on a second-half goal by forward Chris Bagley. On July 26, at PGE Park, the Timbers and Silverbacks battled to a 0-0 draw. Atlanta goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh recorded eight saves on 17 shots faced. The Timbers are one of just three teams this season to record a winning record both at home (8-0-6) and on the road (6-5-3).
The second-seeded Timbers (14-5-9, 51pts) defeated the defending-champion Vancouver Whitecaps by an aggregate score of 3-1 in the first round. This season marks just the second time the Timbers have advanced past the first round of the playoffs; the last time was in 2001. Portland is 4-8-0 in USL First Division playoff matches.
The semifinal series is a two-game, aggregate-goals series. If the aggregate score is tied at the end of regulation of the second match, the series will then go to 30 minutes of overtime in two 15-minute sessions. If the score is still tied at the end of extra time, the series will be decided on penalty kicks.
The winner of Portland and Atlanta series will advance to play the winner of the Puerto Rico Islanders and Seattle Sounders series for the 2007 USL First Division championship on Sept. 29.
The Silverbacks finished the 2007 season in fourth place with a record of 12-9-7 (43pts) to advance to the postseason for just the third time since 1999. In the first round, Atlanta recorded a 3-2 aggregate win over the Rochester Raging Rhinos to mark the first playoff series win in franchise history. Former Timbers forward Dan Antoniuk, Atlanta’s leading scorer, captured the USL First Division scoring title with 23 points (7g, 9a). He was also the league leader in assists with nine. The Silverbacks were 2-1-1 in their final four regular-season matches with wins over the Puerto Rico Islanders and Minnesota Thunder.