Game 16: Timbers 2 – Miami 0By: mao | July 11th, 2010
Portland Timbers finally played a solid league game and emerged with a 2-0 home victory over Miami FC. Ross Smith scored his second goal of the season and Ryan Pore added his league-leading tenth in the 90th minute to secure three important league points for the Timbers. Miami had defeated Portland in a dire affair in South Florida a month earlier, so exacting revenge against a poor club was a nice result for the Timbers.
As important as the two goals were, Steve Cronin was the man of the match. Smith played heroic defense and did score the opener, but Cronin was unflappable in goal. Seven saves were recorded in the second half alone as Miami sent wave after wave looking for an equalizer. The entire defense played well and even seemed to play as a unit for once, but it was Cronin who ultimately stopped the Miami shots.
Gavin Wilkinson continued to experiment with players and options, starting Bright Dike and Doug DeMartin up front with young Derek Gaudet earning a start in central midfield. Gaudet played well and pushed the ball into attack before coming off in the second half. Dike and DeMartin both created chances for the Timbers, though neither could find the finish required to open the Timbers’ account. Wilkinson even deployed Ian Joy to take corner kicks, trying the skipper out in a different area of the field. None were particularly successful though, so don’t expect to see much more of Joy that far up on a corner.
Ultimately the Timbers controlled most of the game, both in possession and in defense. Pore had a fantastic strike on goal that was barely saved and hit the post in the first half. Gaudet nearly scored the goal of the season after juggling the ball around a defender and shooting just inches over the bar late in the first half. Dike blasted a shot directly to the Miami keeper while DeMartin, George Josten and Tony McManus missed on fairly open chances. Still, the shots were of much better quality and aim than usual suggesting that Portland might be ready to explode offensively in the coming weeks.
Full points were necessary from a club as poor as Miami, so the result was a good one. The Timbers are now within three points of Rochester for second place in the USL table and now just nine short of league-leading Austin. With the fourth best point total to date, Portland are very much back in the play-offs after their fourth straight game without defeat. Having wasted all of May and most of June, the Timbers are collecting points at a rate that will see them back toward the top of the table if the current level of play extends into August.