:: Utah Blitzz 2 v 1 Portland Timbers (OT) ::


After experiencing "travel problems" and awaiting the arrival of new signing Matt Chulis (who arrived at Salt Lake International Airport at 6pm) the Timbers finally made it to Provo with 30 minutes to spare. The game was then delayed about 20 minutes with Bobby Howe deciding to play 3 at the back and 5 in midfield playing Chulis and Michael O'Neill who had arrived in the US on Friday.

The game started with the Blitzz playing a cautious defensive game, at times getting 9 players back behind the ball. In the circumstances it was probably a good tactic, the players and coach getting the chance to look at the Timbers early in the game.

The Timbers first attack came in the first few minutes, Mark Baena was fouled just outside the box and the free kick from Gavin Wilkinson was deflected over for the corner. Sawatsky (the Timbers regular corner taker) took the kick and the header from Brent Sancho was cleared off the line.

The Timbers kept up the pressure early in the half with some good shots from Baena saved by Utah keeper Littman and both Sawatsky and Baena had forward runs caught offside. Utah sat back and soaked up the pressure and had few chances until the 32nd minute when a bad pass by Brian Winters in midfield was intercepted and Fadi Afash and Jorge Estrada pushed forward.

Utah came back into the game after that with BJ McNichol coming on for Westcott (sp.) after 39'. For all the Timbers possession and a couple more chances (Scott Benedetti's shot deflected and McPeak heading over from the resulting corner) the Timbers couldn't turn that early possession in midfield into a goal and the half ended scoreless. (0 - 0)

The second half started with Utah gaining in confidence, pushing forward and leaving more space in midfield. A Utah corner 5 minutes after the restart had to be blocked by Winters which was quickly followed by a close offside decision against Sawatsky when he would have been 1-on-1 with Littman.

After 55' Portland had the best chance of the game so far when a Sawatsky shot saw O'Neill sliding in late but off balance. Then on 57' O'Neill had a better chance when, after receiving a pass from Baena (who now was being double-teamed), he flicked the ball with his left past Littman and into the net to put the Timbers one up. (0 - 1)

Utah now picked up the pace and began to attack with more determination. On 65' Sancho lost the ball to McNichol. His shot was saved by Napoleon and the follow up was blocked by Winters. A minute later a Utah corner ended with a shot blocked by Sancho.

After 70' Afash was booked for a tackle on Sancho and Ochoa came on for McPeak on the right side. Utah continued to press forward with a wide shot by Noleen (who had come on as a sub on 67') when he was open from 15yds and a run by Cummins which was called offside.

Sawatsky and Baena were getting few chances this half, the Timbers were failing to control the game and Utah were coming forward more and more.

A Utah long throw into the box was hit away by Chulis 5yds from goal but the game looked like it was heading towards a Timbers win when, in the 3rd minute of extra time, a long throw from Noleen was headed home by Ovalle to the delight of the Blitzz. (1 - 1)

The first period of overtime began with blocked shots by Ochoa and Sawatsky, a Utah corner and a shot by Matt Chulis over the bar. Utah had a good chance when they won a free-kick 20yds out but Afash's kick hit the wall and his follow up was over the bar.

The second period began with another chance for the Timbers, an Ochoa cross found Sawatsky who passed to Baena but the chance was gone. Then with the game just 3 minutes away from the draw, Cummins put a near post header away after a cross from Afash to give the Blitzz the win. (2 - 1).

Bobby Howe commented after the game:

"In the second half I was disappointed in our ability to kill the game"

It was indeed this and the fact that again the Timbers allowed a team to score at a crucial time (just before the end of a half as had happened in El Paso and again in the Pro-40 training game) that gave the momentum and therefore the game to Utah.


[Teams]

Utah
Littman, Ovalle, Pukrin, Munoz, Cairel, Estrada, Pogman, Westcott (McNichol 39'), Cummins, McNab, Afash. Sub: Noleen 67' for (?)

Portland
Napoleon, Sancho, Wilkinson (Gantz 83'), Chulis, Benedetti, Costigan, O'Neill, Winters, Sawatsky, Baena, McPeak (Ochoa 71')