Timbers U-23s avoid errors, win late
Roberto Farfan helps Portland advance to semifinals
When the final whistle blew, Mark Sherrod could only breathe a sigh of relief. He and the rest of the Portland Timbers U-23s knew the fits the Kitsap Pumas caused during the regular season. But in a divisional playoff match Sunday at Gladstone High School, Portland avoided any more woes as goals from Sherrod and Roberto Farfan led to a 2-1 win over Kitsap and a trip to the Premier Development Leagues Western Conference semifinals in Ventura, Calif.
The Pumas had been Portlands pesky opponent this year. And Sunday was no different.
The match was played at a 1-1 tie for upwards of 64 minutes even though the Timbers appeared to have the upper hand.
As time ticked away, anticipation built over which side would score next. And Farfan provided the relief.
Sherrod settled the ball for Farfan deep in the Pumas zone. From the right side of the penalty box, Farfan connected with a left-footed half volley, which cruised past Kitsap goalkeeper Zac Lubin and into the left corner of the net, the game-winning goal in the 69th minute, giving Portland a 2-1 lead.
The set up was perfect. I got a good chest trap on it. I just happened to be anticipating it, and luckily I got a good strike on it and it went in, Farfan said.
The match, though, was far from over. Portland handed Kitsap two games during the regular season, and there were moments Sunday when it looked like it could happen again.
In the 79th minute, a Timbers defender attempted to clear a ball in front of his own net. Instead, he shanked it off the post, coming inches away from an own-goal.
Every time we played them except for the very first time, its been like, OK, we have this game wrapped up. Were going to get a win, Sherrod said. And something happens, and we end up getting a tie or losing. So this time we held them and got the win, and it was just a sigh of relief, and I get to play with these guys for a little bit longer.
Timbers coach Jim Rilatt said: At the end, we made it far more difficult on ourselves than it needed to be. It was a close game, but we deserved the result. But we let them in the game, too.
The Timbers were 1-1-1 in three regular season matches against Kitsap this season, and they felt that should have never happened..
They all had their unique quality about them, Rilatt said. We felt we gave them a draw up there on a silly mistake and gave them a win down here on a silly mistake. So it gets in the back of your head, is that going to happen again?
Sherrod immediately eased any apprehension with Portlands season on the line. He scored the Timbers quickest goal of the season, heading home a throw-in from defender Anthony Hobbs, to take a 1-0 lead in 2nd minute.
The Pumas, though, didnt let the lead last long.
They scored five minutes later, on a goal from defender Zack Sampson.
Weve scored plenty of times, and they were right back in it, Sherrod said. We knew they were capable of scoring right away.
Eventually, Farfan broke the tie. Now the Timbers will join the Seattle Sounders, representing the Northwest Division against the top two teams from the PDLs Southwest Division for the Western Conference championship.