FOREST GROVE, Ore. – Defender Stephen Keel tallied a goal in the second half and cleared another off the goal line as the Portland Timbers played the Tacoma Tide FC to a 1-1 draw in their final preseason scrimmage Saturday night at Lincoln Park Stadium.
Portland’s preseason contest against the Tide, who competes in USL’s Premier Development League, marked the end of its preseason. The Timbers start the 2009 USL First Division campaign April 25 against the Vancouver Whitecaps on the road at 7 p.m. The season opener will be broadcast live on 95.5 The Game and www.portlandtimbers.com.
While the Timbers maintained possession and controlled the tempo throughout the match, the two sides were locked at 0-0 heading into halftime. Late in the first half, Keel helped the Timbers keep the score level when he cleared a shot by the Tide off the goal line and out of danger.
The Timbers opened the second half dictating the pace of the game and forced Tacoma’s goalkeeper into action. In the 68th minute, the Timbers broke through on a header by Keel on the doorstep to take a 1-0 lead. Late-match sub Takayuki Suzuki set up the go-ahead goal with a 25-yard free kick along the right side. Suzuki’s ball into the box was met by a wave of Timbers players and Keel was in position to poke it in.
As the game closed in on 90 minutes, the Tide took advantage of loose ball around the box to net the equalizer. Following a long throw in near the right corner flag, the Timbers could not clear the ball as it bounced through the box. A Tacoma player knocked the ball down and put it away from close range in the 87th minute to earn the draw.
The Timbers will take Sunday off before opening their first week of the regular season with a training session Monday at PGE Park.
Notes: Saturday marked the Timbers’ seventh preseason game in seven weeks … Portland finished preseason with a record of 2-1-4 … With Suzuki’s set up in the 68th minute, he finished the preseason with a goal and an assist … Shaun Higgins made his first appearance in preseason as second-half sub … Forward Jason McLaughlin left the match in the 15th minute due to injury. He was replaced by Antouman Jallow.
GK Cronin, D Thompson, D Keel, D Danso, D Hayes (Higgins, 64), M Savage (Farber, 64), M McManus, M Claesson (Nishimura, 78), Pore (Nimo, 64), F McLaughlin (Jallow, 15)(Suzuki, 64), F Josten (Keita, 64)