PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers U-23s continue their 2012 Premier Development League (PDL) playoff run Saturday as they face the Ventura County Fusion in the Western Conference semifinals at Ventura College in Ventura, Calif.; kickoff is set for 5 p.m. (Pacific).
The semifinal matchup between the Timbers U-23s and Fusion, the Southwest Division champions, kicks off the four-team Western Conference tournament. The Seattle Sounders FC U-23 square off against FC Tucson on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (Pacific) in the other semifinal match. The two semifinal winners will meet in the Western Conference final on Sunday at 5 p.m. (Pacific) at Ventura College.
WATCH: Timbers U-23s prepare for semifinals
The Timbers U-23s (10-4-2, 32pts) defeated Northwest Division rival the Kitsap Pumas 2-1 in a divisional playoff match on July 15 to advance to their second Western Conference tournament in three seasons. Portland forward Mark Sherrod scored the quickest goal in team history in the second minute and midfielder Roberto Farfan tallied the game-winner in the second half to defeat Kitsap.
With the playoff victory over the Pumas, the Timbers U-23s improve to 5-1-0 all-time in PDL postseason play under head coach Jim Rilatt. The Timbers U-23s, the 2010 PDL champions, head to Southern California this weekend for their first road trip outside of the Northwest since joining the PDL in 2009.
The semifinal matchup Saturday pits two of the top two offenses in the Western Conference. During the regular season, the Timbers U-23s recorded 35 goals and the Fusion tallied 42 goals to lead their respective divisions. Additionally, both teams allowed the fewest goals in their divisions, with Portland and Ventura County conceding just 16 and 13 goals, respectively.
Winners of six of their last seven matches to close the regular season, the Fusion (12-2-2, 38pts) enter Saturday’s matchup on eight days rest. Ventura County defeated the BYU Cougars 1-0 in its regular-season finale on July 13, as forward Christopher Tsonis scored the game-winning goal the 70th minute.
Ventura County returns to the PDL playoffs for a third straight season, and won the PDL championship in 2009. The Fusion are led by leading goal-scorer Gyasi Zardes, who notched eight goals during the regular season. Ventura County also features former Timbers U-23s forward Travis Bowen, who played with Portland in 2011.