PORTLAND, Ore. - Goalkeeper Jordan James picked up the Portland Timbers' seventh shutout of the season as they battled the Minnesota Thunder to a scoreless draw on Thursday before 5,651 at PGE Park.
The Timbers (4-3-5, 17pts) recorded their fourth shutout at home this season and inched their way into a two-way tie for second place in the USL First Division with the Charleston Battery at 17 points.
James earned his first shutout of the season in his second consecutive start in goal for the Timbers on Thursday, goalkeeper Ray Burse was recalled by Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas on Wednesday for the team’s match against the New England Revolution on Friday. Burse is on loan from the MLS club for the 2008 season.
The Timbers acquired forward Bryan Jordan on loan from MLS’s Los Angles Galaxy for the match against Minnesota. He played all 90 minutes in his return to Portland and registered one shot. Jordan was a member of the Timbers in 2007 and finished his rookie season among the team’s scoring leaders with five goals and one assist.
The two sides battled to a scoreless first half with the Thunder (4-3-2, 14pts) seeing a 5-3 advantage in shots. The Thunder had five corner kick attempts in the opening period.
The Timbers had their chances to find a goal in the first half. Early on, Jordan caught up to a long pass sent into the box. With a step on his defender, Jordan was able to collect the ball and blast a shot at the left post but the ball was just off the mark.
Midfielder Miguel Guante had a couple of quality chances in the first half, including one in the 31st minute. Forward Takayuki Suzuki held the ball in top left corner of the box and passed it off for Guante, who took two touches before firing a shot at the near post. But Minnesota goalkeeper Nic Platter was there to make a diving stop to his right.
James made two saves early on in the second half to keep the score even at 0-0. In the 52nd minute, he was able to stay on top of a sneaky pass to Minnesota's Ricardo Sanchez who fired a 12 yard shot right James, but he was able to hang onto the ball for the save.
Two minutes later James spoiled a break away by Thunder forward Melvin Tarley. As Tarley made a run towards the box, Jordan left his line to challenge the play and Tarley fired a shot from the top of the penalty area. Jordan, near the penalty spot, knocked Tarley's shot wide and out of play.
The Timbers offense gained momentum in the second half taking a series of shots that just missed the frame. Midfielder Andrew Gregor volleyed a shot in the 59th minute from 24 yards out towards the right post, but Platter was able to reach up and pull the ball down.
A few minutes later, Guante set up a header by forward Chris Brown with a deep cross towards the back post, but Brown's header was deflected out of play by a Thunder player for a Timbers corner kick.
In the 67th minute, Suzuki chased down a loose ball deep in the Timbers offensive third of the field to set up the best scoring chance of the night for Portland. Under pressure, Suzuki found Jordan at the near post who was able to hold the just long enough for Guante to make a run into the box. Jordan's pass into space near the penalty marker allowed Guante an open shot, but his attempt flew high and wide.
The Timbers escaped a near chance by the Thunder in the 82nd minute. Substitute Aaron Paye made a quick run down the left flank and cut up field into an open lane to the box. He fired a shot past an out-stretch James but the ball pinged off the far post and out of play.
The two teams traded chances in the final minutes, including a free kick by Brown that rattled around the box before the Thunder could clear the ball.
Portland hits the road for a match on Saturday against the league-leading Vancouver Whitecaps at Swangard Stadium at 7 p.m. A live broadcast is available online at www.portlandtimbers.com; with a live video webcast available through USL Live at www.usllive.com.
Notes: Thursday was Suzuki's 32nd birthday ... Guante took a team-high three shots … Forward Benjamin Totori will miss the next four weeks with a right MCL injury.
POR: GK James, D S. Thompson, D Griffin, D Knkowles, D J. Thompson, M Poltl (Higgins, 61), M Guante, M Gregor, M Brown, F Jordan, F Suzuki
MIN: GK Platter, D Kallman (Paye, 78), D Taylor, D Friedland, D Greenfield, M Sanchez, M Bass, M Dombrowski, M deRoux, F Tarley, F Gonzalez
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