July 27, 2005
Fullerton, CA - Former Cal State Fullerton stars Brent Whitfield, Josh Saunders and Sam Reynolds all played key roles in their USL teams' success last week.
In a battle for possession at home, the Seattle Sounders pulled through in the final minutes of the game to finalize the score at 1-0 Saturday night (July 23) at Qwest Field against the visiting Minnesota Thunder. Rookie midfielder (Cal State Fullerton product) Whitfield's winning goal in the 83rd minute pushed Seattle (30 points) into sole possession of fourth place past Vancouver (27 points) in USL standings.
Meanwhile, a crowd of 15,376 fans watched the Portland Timbers hold Sunderland AFC of the English Premier League to a scoreless draw the same night at PGE Park in Portland. The attendance mark was the largest crowd for the Timbers in five seasons, breaking the record of 13,351, set Aug. 29, 2003, versus El Paso.
All 16 eligible Timbers were used in the exhibition, which was the first against a Premiership opponent since the NASL Timbers lost 1-0 to West Bromwich Albion in 1981.
In the opening half, Byron Alvarez nearly put the Timbers ahead just eight minutes into the match when he broke free of the Sunderland defense in the box, but his half-volley shot was saved over the bar by goalkeeper Ben Alnwick. Sunderland got a chance of its own two minutes later when striker Jon Stead, a recent signing from Blackburn Rovers, hit a turnaround shot off the outside netting.
In perhaps the highlight of the game, Portland goalkeeper Josh Saunders kept the sides level with two spectacular saves in the 39th on shots from Stephen Elliott and Daryl Murphy. Saunders blocked the first attempt, but the rebound fell to Murphy, whose effort was kick-saved and later cleared.
Saunders spent the first half in goal and Sam Reynolds came on at halftime to combine for the shutout.
The Timbers' best chance of the match came in the first half, when Alvarez was taken down in the box and the Timbers were awarded a penalty kick. Alvarez stepped up to the spot, but his attempt sailed over the crossbar and the match remained scoreless.
In the second half, Lee Morrison found himself alone for an uncontested header on goal but his attempt bounced wide.