Timbers U-23 advance on penalty kicks

Victory in Camas sends Portland to PDL Western Conference semis

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



CAMAS — Two teams that didn’t want their season to end played as long as allowed on Tuesday at Doc Harris Stadium.

After 120 minutes of hard-nosed if not artistic soccer ended in a 1-1 deadlock, the Premier Development League’s divisional playoff match between the Portland Timbers under-23 team and the Vancouver Whitecaps U23s was decided by a penalty-kick tiebreaker. As is often the case, it came down to the goalkeeper.

Portland keeper David Meves took and made the final kick as the Timbers prevailed by making all five of their kicks from the spot, outscoring the visitors from British Columbia 5-4 in the tiebreaker.

Portland advances to the PDL Western Conference semifinals to play the Fresno Fuego at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday in Ventura, Calif. The winner there will play Sunday for the Western Conference championship.

Clark Phillips scored in the 68th minute with a close-range header to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead. He redirected a cross from the right side after an early cross from the left wing created the opportunity.

It looked as if that would be enough to get the Timbers the victory, especially when Portland started to control more of possession with the lead.

But a quick counter-attack from the Whitecaps in the 83rd minute extended the match an extra 30 minutes for a crowd announced at 497.

Vancouver’s Kartar Hundal broke forward out of midfield and pushed the ball to his right for Bhupinder Jhutty, whose shot along the turf from just inside the penalty area found the inside of the post for the tying goal.

Each team nearly won it in the dying moments of regulation stoppage time. First, Portland’s John McFarlin was denied from close range by Thomas. A touch pass from Camas native Anthony Macchione set up that chance.

At the other end, Meves beat Cousens one on one for the second time in the second half after the Whitecaps forward split the Portland backline.

In the overtime, Vancouver’s Thomas came up huge twice in quick succession. First, he somehow got to the far post in time to deny a tap-in chance for Portland’s Jose Ribas. On the ensuing corner kick, the keeper lunged to his right to deflect a header from Anthony Hobbs.

In the final seconds of the first 15-minute overtime period, Thomas made a lunging save to prevent a free kick from Portland’s Reed McKenna from finding the target.

Both teams made their first four penalty kicks, but Vancouver’s Samuel Adekugbe sent his shot high to set the stage for Meves to end it.

After a quiet first half that saw no shots on goal, the match opened up in the second 45 minutes.

In the 60th minute, Meves made a brave one-on-one stop 12 yards from goal against a charging Niall Cousens.

In the 74th minute, Portland’s Jaime Velasco got behind the defense, but Whitecaps goalkeeper Simon Thomas cut off the angle just enough to force Velasco’s shot wide.

This is the fourth time in their five-year history that the Timbers U23s made the PDL playoffs. In 2010, Portland went undefeated and won the championship. Camas native and current Timber Brent Richards was the MVP of that playoff run. Last season the Timbers reached the conference semifinals.

Macchione became the first player from the Timbers youth academy to play for the club’s under-23 squad. Both Macchione and Vancouver resident Foster Langsdorf (who dressed but did not play in Tuesday’s playoff, have previously played for the Timbers Reserves.