OFFICIAL MATCH STATISTICS
Late Savage goal lifts Timbers to win over Montreal
Impact 0 Portland 1
Timbers held at bay, but put it away at end
Timbers bring down Impact
JUNE 4, 2009
89:59 isn't enough, Timbers score late for 1-0 victory over Montreal
In a match that could be described as 90 minutes of Montreal doing everything they could to slow down and keep possession of the match, and leave with a 0-0 draw, they succeeded almost the entire 90 minutes, but with 89:59 showing on the clock, one second before stoppage time, the Timbers pressure finally paid off, as Keith Savage scored as he was left completely unmarked just inches out from goal off a cross from Cameron Knowles, and the Timbers would get the 1-0 win in front of 6,427 at Portland's PGE Park.
After an afternoon that saw thunderstorms roll through Portland that were described as the most severe in many decades, and the signage being blown around on the sunken PGE Park pitch, the first fifteen minutes of the match saw almost nothing but both teams moving the ball back and forth across their backline, but it was Montreal that had the first scoring chance of the match, when in the 16th minute, a pass from Sandro Grande set up Mayard Elkana at the top of the box, but his header was saved by Steve Cronin near the post, and it would be the last shot Montreal would have for the next 75 minutes.
The Timbers would have their first good look just a few minutes later when Ryan Pore made a run down the left side, then cut back and had a nice curling chance from near the corner of the box that slipped barely a yard past the far post. Two minutes later, a David Hayes free kick gave the Timbers another good scoring chance when Cameron Knowles got his head on the end of the kick, but put it a few yards wide right.
In the 22nd minute, Timbers forward Mandjou Keita got in behind the Impact defense, but his shot was blocked over the crossbar as the defense was able to retreat and recover.
The next good scoring chance wouldn't come until the 34th minute, when Montreal goalkeeper Matt Jordan punched out a cross by Scot Thompson, but the ball fell right to the foot of Timbers forward George Josten, whose attempted chip at the open net had too much pace and went several yards over the bar.
Just before halftime, the Timbers came within inches of grabbing the lead on what seemed to be an accidental deflection as a deep run down the left side by Pore was crossed low and deflected up by Johan Claessen, and was over Jordan's outstretched fingers and hit off the crossbar before rebounding back into play and being cleared. Despite controlling much of the run of play in the first half, the Timbers had to settle for a 0-0 draw at the half.
And things didn't change in the second half as Montreal still did their best to keep posssession, hoping to hold the Timbers off the board and steal a point.
The first 15 minutes of the second half were much like the end of the first half, with lots of possession but neither team threatening. The Timbers finally would threaten with a good chance in the 63rd minute, when a pass was dropped back to Pore at the top of the Impact box, and his low blast was only kept out by a diving save by Jordan. In the 73rd minute, Jordan nearly knocked the ball into his own net which he misjudged a high cross, and the ball ended up behind him as he barely managed a touch, but slide wide right of goal.
The next 20 minutes saw the Impact still slowing down play trying to last until the end, and the Timbers had trouble finding good chances, and didn't have another good chance until the 83rd minute when a corner kick rebounded out to Alex Nimo, whose low blast from 20 yards out was blocked by the defense on the way in. Nimo was one of several second half substitutes, and the speed and fresh legs were starting to stretch the Impact defense, and allowing more crosses and dangerous balls into the Montreal box.
The Impact finally did get a second shot on goal, in the 89th minute, when a shot from Grande was right at Cronin and never threatened to score. But on the next possession, the Timbers earned a free kick 30 yards out to the Impact keeper's left, and the free kick by Hayes, floated all the way to Knowles who was near the touchline, but was able to head across the goal mouth and found an amazingly wide open Keith Savage just feet out from goal, and the Timbers midfielder put the shot into the roof of the net for the 1-0 lead just as the match entered stoppage time.
In stoppage time, the Impact finally had to come out of their defensive shell to try to steal a point, and as a result, the Timbers offense was finally let loose and nearly scored twice more in stoppage time, the first when Jason McLaughlin's header off a Nimo cross just missed the right post of an open net, and then a minute later, Keita fed a perfect pass that put McLaughlin in wide open on a one-on-one with Jordan, but the Timbers forward put the shot over the bar when he should have had an easy finish. But the one goal would be enough as the Timbers held on for the 1-0 lead, and having held a 19-2 lead in shots for the match.
Steve Cronin had two saves for the Timbers, while Matt Jordan had three saves in the losing effort.