ATLANTA – Forward Bryan Jordan tallied his sixth goal of the season as the Portland Timbers and Atlanta Silverbacks battled to a 1-1 draw at Re/Max Greater Atlanta Stadium on Friday night. The two sides will enter the second match of the two-game, aggregate-goal semifinal series in Portland on Sunday tied at 1-1.
Down 1-0, the Timbers rallied back early in the second half to tie the match. The Timbers kept pace with a speedy Atlanta side throughout the match, and applied pressure on the Silverbacks' backline in the second half. Late in the match, the Timbers made two great stops on the goal line and saw an Atlanta shot rattle off the cross bar to preserve the draw. In three matches against Atlanta this season the Timbers are 1-0-2 and have surrendered just one goal.
Jordan's goal in the 49th minute pulled the Timbers even with Atlanta. Midfielder Tom Poltl played a ball over the top from midfield for Jordan, who on his first touch was able to get around his defender. Jordan then patiently slipped the ball inside the near post as Atlanta goalkeeper Ryan McIntosh charged off his line.
The Silverbacks took a 1-0 lead in the 43th minute on a goal by forward Warren Ukah. The ball was played wide to forward Machel Millwood, who then took the ball down near the endline before attacking the box. A short cross by Millwood into the box found Ukah running at the near post. Millwood slotted the ball inside the far post as Portland goalkeeper Josh Wicks collided with Ukah on the play.
It was a quickly played and physical first half as both sides took little time attacking the goal once they earned possession. The Silverbacks, who outshot the Timbers 13-10 in the contest, took their first shot of the night in the 4th minute on a header by Martyn Lancaster. Wicks made several stops on the Atlanta attack thwarting a one-on-one attempt by Millwood from 15 yards out in the 34th minute.
The Timbers had their opportunities in the first half, perhaps their best chance coming in stoppage time on a one-two combo by forward Jaime Ambriz and Poltl. Coming from the right side Poltl found Ambriz at the top of the box, who then laid the ball off for Poltl about 20 yards out from goal. Poltl drove a low shot wide right. In the 18th minute, midfielder Andrew Gregor curled a 26-yard free kick along the right post, but it was punched away by McIntosh.
The second half raced up and down the pitch as the Timbers found their offensive rhythm to put the Silverbacks defense on edge. Midfielder Luke Kreamalmeyer nearly gave the Timbers the lead in the 62nd as Jordan skipped him a cross across the top of the box. Kreamalmeyer, on the run, drilled a shot just wide of the top right corner of the frame.
Portland's defense held strong late in the match as Wicks, who recorded 10 saves on the night, and his defenders made several key stops. Early in the second half, Kreamalmeyer kept the score even with leaping effort to headed out a shot on the line along the right post off a Silvebacks' corner kick. Then in the 79th minute, defender Justin Thompson and Wicks teamed up to stop a one-on-one opportunity by Atlanta midfielder Macoumba Kandji from 10 yards out. Late in the match, the Timbers caught a lucky break as Millwood found a loose ball at his feet inside the six yard box. His shot hit the crossbar and bounced down into the arms of Wicks.
Portland will host the second-match of the two game series on Sunday at PGE Park at 5 p.m., presented by OHSU. Sunday's match will be featured live on Fox Soccer Channel. Semifinal tickets, starting at $12, are available through the PGE Park box office and Ticketmaster.
Notes: Atlanta forward Anthony Wolfe was unavailable on Friday due to one-game suspension for receiving a red card in the second match of the Silverbacks' quarterfinal series against Rochester ... Portland's Knowles, Wicks, Gregor and Scot Thompson were selected to all-league teams on Thursday ...
POR: GK Wicks, D J. Thompson, D S. Thompson, D Griffin, D Knowles, M Gregor, M Kreamalmeyer (Taylor, 78), M Higgins (Ready, 88), M Poltl, F Ambriz (Hague, 75), F Jordan (Olum, 85)
ATL: GK McIntosh, D Hayes, D Bobo, D Lancaster, D Jarun, M Buete, M Rios, M Liendo (Rivillo, 72), M Kandji, F Ukah (Antoniuk, 65), F Millwood
ATL: Ukah (Warren), 43
POR: Jordan, 49