Timbers earn draw in Puerto Rico on Keita goal

BAYAMON, Puerto Rico – Forward Mandjou Keita scored his first goal of the season to help the Portland Timbers pull out a 1-1 draw on the road against the Puerto Rico Islanders at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium on Friday.

After a hard-fought first half, Puerto Rico was the first to break through in the 52nd minute to take the lead. Down by a goal, Keita erased the Islanders’ advantage seven minutes later when he headed in a corner kick by defender David Hayes to extend the Timbers’ (2-1-3, 9pts) unbeaten streak to five games.

Keita scored on his lone shot attempt of the night, midfielder Tony McManus logged two shots and Hayes recorded his first assist of the season to aid the Timbers in their second consecutive draw on the road.

Forward Sean Fraser tallied the go-ahead goal early in the second half with his first goal of the season to lead the Islanders (2-1-3, 9pts) in their first USL First Division action since May 10.

In a fast-paced first half, Puerto Rico maintained a majority of the possession throughout the opening period, but the Timbers had the advantage in shots 4-3, including two by forward George Josten that kept the Islanders on their heels.

On a counter attack in the 27th minute, Timbers midfielder Ryan Pore brought the ball down field and then laid it off for Josten, who then unloaded a shot on target. Josten’s attempt was smothered by Islanders goalkeeper Bill Gaudette.

Late in the first half, a build up by the Timbers set up another chance for Josten in the 42nd minute. Josten sent a left-footed blast at the far post that was parried over the crossbar with a leaping effort by Gaudette to keep the stalemate intact entering the break.

The Islanders continued their offensive pressure early in the second half, and the momentum paid off in the 52nd minute. Off of a throw in, the ball was worked into the box which set up a shot for Puerto Rico that rattled off the crossbar and back into play. The Timbers could not clear the loose ball and Fraser drilled it home for the 1-0 lead.

Puerto Rico’s lead would not last long. In the 59th minute, a shot by Pore was pushed wide, but second-half sub Brian Farber chased down the ball and helped the Timbers earn a corner kick on the play. Hayes took the ensuing corner and delivered an in-swinging ball from the right side that found Keita on the back post for the equalizer.

Looking to capture all three points, the two sides traded chances throughout the remainder of the match. Following a series of three consecutive corner kicks by the Islanders near the midway point in the second half, the Timbers thought they had caught a break in the 75th minute on another counter attack.

Working the ball down field on a two-versus-two counter, Pore uncorked a shot from the top of the box that deflected off an Islanders defender and the ball nearly find its way inside the post, but it would roll wide and out of play.  

In the final minutes of regulation, the Timbers escaped another shot opportunity by the Islanders from inside the box as a header was pushed wide and landed in the side netting of the goal. Puerto Rico attempted eight of their 11 shots in the second half.

The Timbers constructed one last chance in second-half stoppage time and worked the ball down field to Jason McLaughlin near the box. He slipped a pass out wide for Farber, who blasted a shot on target, but Gaudette was there on the goal line to knock the ball out of play and preserve the draw.

The Timbers and Islanders meet for the second time in three days on Sunday in Puerto Rico at 4 p.m. (Pacific). A live broadcast will be available online at www.portlandtimbers.com, with a live video webcast available through USL Live at www.usllive.com.

Notes: The Timbers improved their all-time record in Puerto Rico to 0-3-2 … Hayes made his 240th career USL First Division appearance and logged his 35th career assist Friday … Timbers midfielder Alex Nimo made his first start of the season against Puerto Rico … Fraser’s  goal in the 52nd minute was just the third goal scored on the Timbers this season.

POR: GK Cronin, D Thompson, D Knowles, D Keel, D Hayes, M Nimo (Farber, 45), M Claesson (Suzuki, 76), M McManus, M Pore, F Josten (Savage 45), F Keita (McLaughlin, 66)

PR: GK Gaudette, D Krause, D Henry, D Veris, M Arrieta, M Jones, M Delgado (Hansen, 78), M Gbandi (Villegas, 71), M Steele, F Jagdeosingh, F Fraser (Cabrero, 86)