PORTLAND, Ore. - Midfielder Chris Brown delivered two goals and an assist to help the Portland Timbers begin their push for the postseason with a 4-0 victory over the Miami FC Blues on Thursday in front of 8,291 at PGE Park.
Portland looked sharp following a 12-day break between USL First Division matches and received goals from forward Byron Alvarez and defender Cameron Dunn to build a two-goal lead in the first half. Brown then added a pair of insurance goals in the second half to lead the Timbers (7-9-10, 31pts) to their highest scoring output of the season.
Led by goalkeeper Chase Harrison, the Timbers backline held a dangerous Miami attack, led by the league's leading scorer in Alex Afonso, to just seven shots on the night. Harrison picked up his first win as a member of the Timbers and the club's 10th shutout of the season to help Portland move to within one point of the Atlanta Silverbacks in the final playoff spot.
Despite allowing four goals, goalkeeper Josh Saunders recorded seven saves and forwards Ansu Toure and Sean Fraser each took two shots for Miami (6-11-10, 28pts), who with the loss, extends their winless streak to three matches.
The Timbers stole an early lead on Alvarez's strike in the third minute. Defender Scot Thompson played the ball down the right touch line before sending in a cross to Alvarez at the back post. Left with space inside the box, Alvarez, who is the Timbers' modern franchise all-time leading scorer, punched in a header from 10 yards out into the back of the net.
Dunn doubled Portland's advantage in the 41st minute with his first professional goal off a corner kick from Brown. Brown's ball from the flag stick curled in at the near post where Dunn leaped over his defender and headed in the Timbers second goal of the half into the top corner.
Portland capitalized on a hand ball inside the box in early in the second half as Miami attempted to defend a corner kick. Brown stepped up to take the penalty kick and sent a low shot to his left, but Saunders read it well and stopped the initial attempt. Brown followed up on the rebound and put away his seventh goal of the season in the 48th minute.
Brown was awarded another penalty kick opportunity in the 70th minute as midfielder Leonard Griffin was taken down in the box by Miami's Caue de Mata. Brown became the first Timbers player this season to score two goals in one match when he lifted his attempt from the spot inside the top right corner of the frame and stretched the Timbers lead to 4-0.
Midfielder Tom Poltl helped keep Miami off the board late in the match as he headed away a shot aimed at the right post with his heels inches from the goal line and preserved the team's first shutout since July 24.
The Timbers were without the services of defender Cameron Knowles on Thursday due to a one-game, league-imposed suspension for yellow card accumulation. The suspension ended his steak of 57 consecutive appearances in league matches with the Timbers.
Portland continues its run of four games in eight days as it embarks on a two-game road trip to face the Rochester Rhinos on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. (Pacific) and Montreal Impact in a rescheduled match on Monday, Sept. 8 at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific). Both matches will be broadcast live through USL Live at www.usllive.com.
Notes: Prior to the match, midfielder Miguel Guante was honored as the Timbers Community Player of the Year for the 2008 season ... Thompson set a new career-high with his third assist of the season on Alvarez's goal in the third minute ... Thursday marked the Timbers’ first four-goal outburst since July 15, 2007, when they defeated the California Victory 4-1 at PGE Park.
POR: GK Harrison, D S. Thompson, D J. Thompson, D Dunn, D Higgins, M Olum (Guante, 71), M Brown, M Poltl (Dombrowski, 74), M Griffin (Little, 80), F Alvarez (Suzuki, 66), F Bagley (Walker, 73)
MIA: GK Saunders, D Dias, D Williams, D da Mata, D Ramirez, M Vasquez (Galavis, 56), M Nunes (Cavalcante, 72), M Pulido (Goldberg, 72), F Toure, F Fraser (Edozien, 57), F Afonso
POR: Alvarez (S. Thompson), 3
POR: Dunn (Brown), 41
POR: Brown, 48
POR: Brown (PK), 70