The Charleston Battery needed an hour to find a goal against the Portland Timbers U23s, but Austin Savage’s header on Tuesday night at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland was enough to send the USL Pro side on to the Third Round. On a night when four other PDL teams upset higher-seeded opponents, the Timbers U23s simply could not find the form that saw them into the Second Round last week against Sacramento Gold.
To say Savage’s goal was against the run of play would not be fair to Charleston, but the Timbers certainly had the better of the play and chances to start the second half. Mark Sherrod, Reinaldo Brenes and Gabriel Conelian applied the pressure on the Battery goal for several opportunities in the first part of the second half.
Yet a quick counter and a looping cross from Jose Cuevas in the 60th minute found Savage’s head in the six. The former Battery academy player positioned himself perfectly as Cuevas’ ball drifted just over Bryan Gallego’s head and allowed Savage to surprise Timbers goalkeeper David Meves with a strong header to the far post.
Meves looked like the hero for Portland when his 38th minute save kept the Timbers U23s in the game after Charleston’s Dane Kelly got on the end of a long ball in the box. Meves came off his line and denied Kelly just outside the six-yard box when it looked certain that the Battery would take a deserved lead. The save buoyed the Timbers through halftime and up to the hour mark when Savage finally scored.
Cuevas was the most dangerous player on the field throughout the game as Portland’s attackers could not do much with their limited chances. Cuevas, the 2012 USL Pro Rookie of the Year and Championship MVP, nearly opened scoring in the 17th minute but smashed his shot off the crossbar. Meves got a slight touch, denying the 23-year old and forcing the visiting Battery to wait until the hour for the lead.
The Battery move on to the Third Round where they are scheduled to host the San Jose Earthquakes at Blackbaud Stadium on Tuesday, May 28. They’ll host Rochester Rhinos on Saturday May 25 in league play as a prelude to the next round.
CHB: Austin Savage (Jose Cuevas), 60
CHB: Zach Prince (caution), 11
CHB: Jarad van Schaik (caution), 20
POR: Mitch Lurie (caution), 55
CHB: Nicki Paterson (caution), 90
POR: POR: GK David Meves, D Saad Abdul-Salam, D Mitch Lurie (Nick Palodichuk, 75), D Bryan Gallego, D Will Semore, M Eric Miller, M Zach Barnes, M Gabriel Conelian, F Zack Foxhoven (Jose Ribas, 62), F Reinaldo Brenes (Jaime Velasco, 73), F Mark Sherrod
Subs not used: GK Blake Hylen, D Travis Brent, D J.J. Greer, D Anthony Hobbs
CHB: GK Kevin Klasila, D Shawn Ferguson, D Colin Falvey, D Cody Ellison, D John Wilson, M Jarad van Schaik, M Zach Prince (Emmanuel Adjetey, 70), M Nicki Paterson, F Austin Savage (Taylor Mueller, 66), F Jose Cuevas, F Dane Kelly
Subs not used: GK Odisnel Cooper, D Mark Wiltse, F Heviel Cordoves