July 21, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Portland Timbers
CHESTER, Pa. - The Portland Timbers recorded their ninth shutout of the season, earning a point on the road in a scoreless draw against the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park on Saturday night.
With the draw, Timbers (8-2-10, 34pts) remain in second place in the Western Conference and have earned results in 10 of their 11 road matches on the campaign.
Portland's defense held one of MLS' top goal-scoring clubs in the Union (8-6-7, 31pts) to just four shots on goal, recording its third shutout on the road overall and third in its last five away matches. Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts recorded four saves, including three in the second half, to pick up his ninth clean sheet of the campaign, tied for the most in MLS this season.
Union forwards Jack McInerney and Conor Casey, who both rank among league leaders in goals, were held to a combined three shots by the Timbers backline, as Philadelphia was shut out at home for the first time since the end of the 2012 regular season.
Philadelphia, which leads MLS with 15 first-half goals, was limited to just a single shot on goal in the first half. Ricketts made a diving save to parry a shot by Union midfielder Danny Cruz from inside the box that skipped in on goal wide of the right post in the 36th minute.
The Timbers created two quality looks on goal in the first half, forcing Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath into a pair of saves. In the 24th minute, a quick counter led to a shot by forward Ryan Johnson from the left side of the box that MacMath turned away with a kick save. Four minutes later, a cross by Johnson connected with defender Jack Jewsbury on a late run into the box, but Jewsbury's sliding shot was saved.
There was a 30-plus minute delay to the start of the second half due to lightning and thunderstorms, but the Timbers returned to the field and created two scoring chances early in the second half. Midfielder Diego Valeri was able to turn his defender inside the box and had a shot from close range knocked down by MacMath in the 55th minute. Forward Frederic Piquionne then drove a long free kick along the ground in the 63rd minute that MacMath collected in front of goal.
The Timbers defense held its ground through the late stages of the match to preserve the clean sheet, and Ricketts turned in another key save in the 71st minute on a shot by Casey from inside the box aimed at the top right corner of the goal.
The Union created a flurry of activity in the 88th minute, attempting five of their 17 shots during that minute of play, including one by Sebastien Le Toux that was saved by Ricketts and another by Leonardo Fernandes that deflected off the right post.
It was the Timbers, however, that had the last scoring opportunity of the match three minutes into second-half stoppage time. A Valeri corner kick set up defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste for a shot from inside the box, but the defender lifted his shot over the target.
The Timbers return home to play host to English Premier League side Norwich City FC in an international friendly at JELD-WEN Field on Wednesday, July 24, at 8 p.m. (Pacific). Tickets are available for purchase at the stadium box office and online at www.portlandtimbers.com.