Victory falls to late Portland goal
SAN FRANCISCO (June 28, 2007) -- The California Victory suffered another heartbreaking 1-0 loss, this time courtesy of a late goal from the Portland Timbers Thursday night.
In a game with very few chances that looked headed for a scoreless tie, Portland substitute David Hague latched onto a goal kick in the 89th minute to score and hand his team all three points.
On paper it never looked like a high-scoring affair, with the Timbers leading the league with fewest goals conceded, and the Victory with fewest scored.
And while the visitors only managed four shots on goal, they made one count in the end -- and their gradual climb up the standings continues.
It was a nervy start for the California defense, and Portland threatened early on with an inswinging free kick that Eric Reed deftly punched away.
Matt Fitzgerald broke free on the resulting clearance and made a dash for the Portland goal -- but he was clattered on the edge of the box, unable to get his pass off to a wide-open Josh Hansen.
Portland dropped a few dangerous balls into the Victory box, but 'keeper Reed and centerback Cameron Dunn defended brilliantly for most the night.
Man-of-the-match contender Dunn even cleared a shot off the line after Reed uncharacteristically misjudged a cross and found himself in no-man's land, leaving his goal wide open.
The Victory again had problems in front of goal despite the addition of experienced Deportivo Alavés forward Juan Epitié in his first league start.
Fitzgerald made another good run in the 27th minute and squared a pass toward the penalty spot, but Epité and Yuri Morales got tangled up together and the ball squirted clear.
The home team's biggest chance came midway in the second half when Ricardo Sanchez' cutting free kick was glanced toward goal by captain Chris Schwarze, but Portland 'keeper Josh Wicks pulled off a fantastic reaction save.
And it was Wicks' big goal kick late in the game that made the difference.
In a goal reminiscent of the Victory's first-ever conceded back in May against Rochester, Wicks launched his kick high into the wind, leaving the Victory defense to struggle with its bounce.
Late substitute David Hague then pounced on the loose ball and finished confidently for the winner.
The California Victory (1-6-5, 8 points, 12th place) will try to bounce back from the cruel loss, but have to contend with a road game against high-fliers Montreal Impact on Sunday. That game can be seen live on usllive.com. The Vics return home for a July 4 match against Miami FC.
After two consecutive road matches, Portland (5-2-3, 18 points, 5th place) returns home to face Miami on Saturday.
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