Hollywood United coach Ian Carrington celebrates his club’s upset win over the Portland Timbers. United became only the second USASA team to beat a USL First Division club Photo: Allison Andrews
You all know the cliché, if you turned this story in to a movie producer, he would laugh at you because of the ridiculous ending. Well, since someone already turned this script in two years ago with the name Dallas Roma FC on it, perhaps it was time for a more dramatic sequel.
Hollywood United became only the second USASA club to defeat a USL First Division team in the US Open Cup, knocking off the Portland Timbers with a stoppage-time goal from Earl Alexander.
The Timbers jumped on the score sheet first. After gaining a free kick from a foul against Arsene Oka, Chris Brown connected on a low shot from 25 yards out, and just inside the left post. Just before the halftime whistle, Hollywood were given the breath of life they were looking for. Timbers defender Tim Karalexis was whistled for a foul in the penalty area, and former MLS veteran Matt Taylor stepped up and slotted his spot kick home past Jordan James for a 1-1 halftime score. Portland out-shot Hollywood 12-4 in the opening half.
Oka put the Timbers in the lead just six minutes before the re-start. Neil Dombrowski sent a precision cross that met the head of Oka, who tucked it inside the left post. Just two minutes later, Portland forward Takayuki Suzuki and United goalkeeper Javier Barragan faced off in what would turn out to be the pivotal point of the match. The Timbers were awarded a penalty for a foul in the area, and as Suzuki took the kick, his slow approach allowed Barragan to react correctly and stop the shot. Barragan started the game in goal over regular goalkeeper Mike Littman, who was forced to serve a one game suspension for a red card he received as a member of the Utah Blitzz in his last Open Cup game in 2003.
It only took United three minutes to capitalize on the momentum shift, as they were awarded their second penalty kick of the game when Timbers midfielder Kiki Lara fouled former Timber Alex Bengard just inside the box. Taylor stepped up once again and leveled the match a 2-2 in the 58th minute.
As the game headed into stoppage time, it appeared as if extra time was a certainty. However, Earl Alexander, a late sub for Hollywood, blasted a shot from the top of the box that appeared to deflect off a Portland player, reaching the top left corner of the goal and silencing the PGE Park crowd. For the few minutes that remained, the Timbers desperatley tried to tie the score, but Hollywood held on for the upset win. A joyous Hollywood United president Anthony LaPaglia ran from player to player, often jumping into their arms in celebration as the dejected Timbers left the field.
POR: GK James, D Bolkan, D J. Thompson (Guante 66), D Griffin, D Karalexis, M Oka, M Lara, M Dombrowski, M Little, F Brown (Suzuki, 45), F Bagley
HOL: GK Garragan, D Dunn, D Robles, D Koubourous (Munoz, 70), D Reeves, M Bengard, M Pinto, M Dunseth, M Reinhardt (Boyce, 53), F Droze (Alexander, 84), F Taylor