U-23s head coach Jim Rillat
Craig Mitchelldyer

Timbers U-23s finish home schedule this weekend

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers U-23s continue their push for a postseason berth this weekend as they play host to the final two home matches of the 2011 regular season. The Timbers U-23s face the Abbotsford Mariners on Friday at Doc Harris Stadium, before taking on the Vancouver Whitecaps Residency on Sunday at Hare Field.

Friday’s match against the Mariners at Doc Harris Stadium in Camas, Wash., kicks off at 7 p.m. Sunday’s fixture against Vancouver has a 3 p.m. start time at Hare Field in Hillsboro, Ore. Tickets for both matches will be available for purchase at each venue on match day.

Portland (5-4-2, 17 pts) enters the weekend in a two-way tie for third place in the PDL’s Northwest Division with the Whitecaps Residency. Portland sits just three points back of the second-place Victoria Highlanders (6-4-2, 20pts), who currently occupy the division’s second and final playoff spot; the top two teams from each division advance to the playoffs.

Coming off a 13-day break between matches, the Timbers U-23s recorded a 3-3 draw in their last match June 25 against the Washington Crossfire. Forward Brent Richards recorded two assists and forward Erik Hurtado scored twice to help Portland to the result, and both were named honorable mention on the PDL Team of the Week for their efforts.

The Timbers U-23s look to get payback from their earlier losses this season to both Abbotsford and Vancouver during a two-game road trip to British Columbia in mid June; it marked Portland’s first set of back-to-back losses as a PDL team. Following a 1-0 loss on an early goal to the Mariners on June 11, the Timbers U-23s fell 2-1 to the Whitecaps Residency the next day. The two losses also marked the Timbers U-23s’ first losses to either team since joining the league in 2009.

Portland is 3-1-0 all-time against Abbotsford, including a perfect 2-0-0 mark against the Mariners at home. The Timbers U-23s have out-scored the Mariners 7-1 in their two previous meetings in Oregon. Last season, the Timbers U-23s topped Abbotsford 2-1 in their home leg of the two-game season series behind goals from Richards and midfielder Steven Evans.

Against the Whitecaps Residency, the Timbers U-23s are 4-1-0 all-time. Portland also has a perfect 2-0-0 record against Vancouver at home, including last season’s 3-1 home victory in which midfielder Bim Ogunyemi logged two assists. In the relatively short history between the two teams, the Timbers U-23s have out-scored the Whitecaps Residency 10-3 in the all-time series.

Also in the playoff picture, Abbotsford (4-6-2, 14pts) sits just below the Timbers and Vancouver in fifth place. When the Mariners visit the Timbers U-23s on Friday, it will be their third match this week, having defeated the Whitecaps Residency 1-0 on Monday and lost 4-0 to the Kitsap Pumas on Tuesday; both matches were played at home. Friday’s contest kicks off a four-match road stretch to wrap up the Mariners’ 2011 campaign. Forward Sasa Plavsic has scored six of the team’s 10 goals this season.

Vancouver (5-4-2, 17pts) closes out a two-game road trip and a three-match week against the Timbers U-23s on Sunday. Since playing the Timbers U-23s on June 12, the Whitecaps Residency has lost three of its last four games. Over the team’s last four matches, its lone victory was a 3-1 win over the Victoria Highlanders on July 1. On Monday, the Whitecaps Residency fell 1-0 to Abbotsford at Bateman Park. Three players share the team lead in scoring, including forward Caleb Clarke and midfielder Ben Fisk with three goals apiece.