Sal Zizzo, Timbers @ Union, 9.10.11

RECAP: Offense quiet as Timbers, Union play to scoreless draw

CHESTER, Pa. – Three days after PPL Park hosted a wildly entertaining game with eight combined goals, the Philadelphia Union and Portland Timbers played to a more uneventful 0-0 draw at Philly’s home stadium in front of a sellout crowd of 18,504.

The Timbers’ defense held steady throughout, limiting the Union to just three shots on goal and spoiled several dangerous crosses into the box. Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins recorded three saves, including a key second-half stop on a shot by Philadelphia forward Danny Mwanga, and had a late shot by Kyle Nakazawa rattle off the crossbar to receive credit for the shutout.

Perkins recorded his seventh clean sheet of the season, defenders Eric Brunner and David Horst cleared away several crosses and forward Kenny Cooper took a team high four shots as the Timbers (9-12-6, 33pts) extended their unbeaten streak to three games as they continue to push for a postseason berth.

The third-place Union, which tied New England 4-4 on Wednesday, have now earned two straight ties at PPL Park but still have not won since July 17. With the result, they move to 8-7-12 overall, and with 36 points sneak one point ahead of Houston in the Eastern Conference.

Despite trotting out a heavy attacking lineup featuring Freddy Adu, Roger Torres, Sébastien Le Toux, Veljko Paunović and Danny Mwanga, Peter Nowak’s Union couldn’t find the back of the net in the first half.

There were cases of individual brilliance – namely an ankle-breaking move from left fullback Michael Farfan in the fifth minute – but the Union finished with just one shot on net in the opening half. Their best scoring opportunity came in the 28th minute when Le Toux dropped a little chip from Torres to his foot and fired a shot just wide.

Portland was also held scoreless in the first half, due in large part to the strong play of Union rookie goalkeeper Zac MacMath. After giving up four goals in the first half of his starting debut three days ago vs. New England, MacMath made three saves before the break vs. Portland, including an impressive stoning of Portland’s Jorge Perlaza right before the halftime whistle blew.

Early in the second half, Portland’s Kalif Alhassan sprung Sal Zizzo free but, alone on net, Zizzo tried a chip over MacMath that never made it to the goal line and was harmlessly cleared away.

The Union started to put some serious pressure on Portland midway through the second half with Mwanga ripping a long-range shot that was saved by Timbers ’keeper Perkins in the 69th minute and then second-half sub Justin Mapp blasting a deflection high after a good run-up and cross by Philly fullback Sheanon Williams two minutes later.

Portland had a terrific chance to escape with three road points in the 85th minute, but Kenny Cooper couldn’t put a shot on frame to cap a Timbers’ counter-attack.

The Union play their third straight home game next Saturday when they welcome the Columbus Crew, while the Timbers return to JELD-WEN field to host New England on Friday.

The Portland Timbers contributed to this recap.

Scoring Summary:

Portland Timbers -- Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, David Horst, Mike Chabala, Sal Zizzo (Darlington Nagbe 81), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Kalif Alhassan (Rodney Wallace 72), Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Bright Dike 60).

Substitutes Not Used: Eric Alexander, James Marcelin, Steve Purdy, Jake Gleeson.

Philadelphia Union -- Zac MacMath, Sheanon Williams, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Michael Farfan, Sebastien Le Toux, Freddy Adu (Jack McInerney 63), Brian Carroll, Roger Torres (Justin Mapp 56), Veljko Paunovic (Kyle Nakazawa 77), Danny Mwanga.

Substitutes Not Used: Gabriel Farfan, Stefani Miglioranzi, Amobi Okugo, Thorne Holder.

Misconduct Summary:
POR -- Kalif Alhassan (caution; Reckless Tackle) 46+
POR -- Jack Jewsbury (caution; Reckless Tackle) 80
PHI -- Carlos Valdes (caution; Handball) 82

Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: -Adam Wienckowski; Matthew Kreitzer
4th Official: Daniel Fitzgerald
Time of Game: 1:53
Attendance: 18,504
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-81-degrees