Timbers defeat MLS' Sounders FC 1-0 in preseason

Seattle, Wash. – With a first-half goal, the Portland Timbers defeated Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders FC 1-0 Thursday in a preseason match before 18,606 at Qwest Field. Trialist forward O.J. Obatola tallied for the Timbers.

Just 11 days into preseason training camp, Portland visited its Northwest rival for Sounders FC’s inaugural Community Shield, a charity event benefitting several Northwest organizations.

Escaping close chances by Seattle, who plays its MLS regular-season opener on March 25, early on, the Timbers broke through in the 44th minute. After penetrating the box, forward George Josten slipped a through ball between Sounders FC defenders to the foot of Obatola. The trialist then poked the ball by Seattle goalkeeper Kasey Keller for the strike.

Portland goalkeeper Steve Cronin earned the shutout and recorded two key saves in the first half. In the 16th minute, he turned away a close-range shot by midfielder Steve Zakuani that nearly crossed the goal line. Minutes later, he punched away a free kick by forward Freddie Ljungberg taken from the top right corner of the box aimed at the top corner of the frame.

Under a steady rain, the Timbers limited the scoring opportunities for their MLS counterparts in the second half. Defender Mamadou Danso and his teammates on the backline made multiple timely tackles to hold off scoring threats by Sounders FC throughout the second stanza.

However, in the final 15 minutes of regulation, Sounders FC was able to apply pressure on the Timbers defense, sending in a series of crosses from the wings. In the 88th minute, Cronin punched out a long free kick by forward Fredy Montero to keep Seattle at bay late in the match.

In the 85th minute, Josten had a chance to add to the Timbers lead. He broke down the left side of the box and forced a one-one-one with Keller. After a slip by Keller, Josten pulled the trigger on a shot across the goal mouth that hit off the far post.

In an energetic environment, the Timbers endured three minutes of stoppage time at the end of regulation. Montero had the final shot of the contest - a header from six yards out that landed in the hands of Cronin - just before the final whistle.

The Timbers continue their preseason schedule Saturday, March 20, against MLS’ San Jose Earthquakes in Santa Clara, Calif.; kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Portland resumes preseason training Friday in Portland, Ore.

Notes: Earlier in the day, the Timbers acquired midfielder Alex Nimo on loan from Real Salt Lake of MLS for the 2010 season … The Timbers Army, a supporters group for the Timbers, traveled four bus loads of fans to the match … Defender Ian Joy made his Timbers debut Thursday; he wore the captains armband … Through the match, over $75,000 was raised for Sounders FC’s community partners.

POR: GK Cronin, D Joy, D Danso, D Smith, D Kirk (Thompson, 73), D Keel, M Pore, M Marcelin (Gaudet, 89), M Lopez (Nimo, 54), F Obatola (DeMartin, 62), F Josten (Cameron, 87)

SEA: GK Keller, D Evans, D Marshall (Parke, 45), D Hurtado, D Gonzalez (Wahl, 80), M Souter (Estrada, 60), M Vagenas (King, 74), M Osvaldo, M Zakuani (67, Ianni), F Ljungberg (Levesque, 45), F Montero

Scoring Summary:
POR: Obatola (Josten), 44