AUGUST 31, 2006
Late Impact goal drops Timbers from playoff race
In a match that some might describe as "hard fought" or a "defensive battle", while others might view it as "sloppy" and "boring", a seemingly inevitable 0-0 draw would not be the result as Montreal's Leonardo Di Lorenzo would break the draw with two minutes to go, and for the second year in a row, the Montreal Impact would leave PGE Park with a 1-0 win, this time in front of 7,043 on a pleasant Thursday evening in Portland.
Scoring chances would be few and far between on this night, and good scoring chances even rarer. The first sniff either team would have at net wasn't until the 27th minute, when Montreal's Mauro Biello had an open look near the top of the box, but his shot was well wide and high.
Six minutes later, the Timbers would have their best chance of the first half when a cross from the left side from Mamba Chisoni was right onto the foot of a charging Hugo Alcaraz-Cuellar, but the Timbers midfielder mis-hit the shot and it was easily saved by Montreal goalkeeper Greg Sutton.
In the 37th minute, a header by Montreal's Mauricio Salles on a cross from Leonardo Di Lorenzo was the first really serious threat at scoring for either team, but the shot was right at Portland goalkeeper Bayard Elfvin for an easy save. The half would end scoreless.
For the first 25 minutes or so of the second half, the home side were definitely pushing hard for a go-ahead goal, and controlled much of the possession, but were not able to break down the Impact defense, and resorted to crosses that were either easily collected by Sutton, or in a few cases, crossed no nobody. The Timbers did have a good free kick opportunity in the 67th minute, but Alcaraz-Cuellar's curling free kick from 30 yards out was right to Sutton. Three minutes later, Portland's Oral Bullen slipped a pass to Ronnie Silva, who was charging down the right side, but his shot from 15 yards out was also right at Sutton and easily saved.
But momentum began to swing back to the Impact, and in the 72nd minute the Timbers narrowly avoiding giving away a goal when a ball bounced around free in the Timbers box for several seconds before Jacobi Goodfellow was able to clear the danger before any Impact forward could get their foot on the ball. The Impact would get a few good looks at goal over the next fifteen minutes, with Patrick Leduc missing wide left in the 75th minute, and former Timber Dan Antoniuk missing well wide right with a seemingly open header in the 84th minute.
With a scoreless draw having felt like an inevitability since early in the first half, in the 88th minute the Impact would taken an opening and make it pay, when a diagonal cross into the box from David Fronimadis found Di Lorenzo having found some separation from his defender, and his header from 15 yards out did not have much pace, but was perfectly placed and bounced once before slipping just inside the right post, and the Impact had snatched a late lead two minutes from stoppage time.
The Timbers would get a few good chances in stoppage time to equalize, the first when Alejandro Gutierrez charged through a hard defensive challenge in the box as his shot was smothered by Sutton right off his foot as the Montreal keeper charged off his line. The second chance would be a few minutes later when Bullen attempted a bicycle kick near the top of the box ,desperate to put a shot on net but the attempt slipped a few yards wide, and it would be the last gasp for the Timbers who fall from playoff contention for the first time since 2003 with the 1-0 loss to the league-leading Impact.
Both Portland's Bayard Elfvin and Montreal's Greg Sutton were each credited with four saves on the night.