Benji Michel Blasts Late Game-Winner in Timbers U23 1-0 Triumph at Lane United

(Benji Michel scored the game-winner in the 85th minute for the Timbers U23s on Thursday night. Photo Credit: Brian Davies – Register Guard)

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. – Benji Michel proved at the University of Portland in the fall of 2016 that he was ready for the big stage, and on Thursday night in Springfield while making his first appearance for the Timbers U23s during the 2017 PDL season, Michel made an immediate impression, scoring the game-winning goal. His 85th-minute score lifted the Timbers U23s to a 1-0 triumph over Lane United FC in a pivotal PDL match on the road.

“This team has turned a corner,” said Timbers U23 head coach Aaron Lewis. “The maturity of this group now at the end of games has come a long way in a relatively short time. They now believe they are the team that will find the goal to bag the points and see games out in a professional way.”

The win sets up a big matchup on Saturday night vs. Lane United in a rematch between the I-5 rivals at McCulloch Stadium. The victory on Thursday also extended the Timbers U23s’ unbeaten streak to seven-straight matches overall.

In the first 45 minutes the Timbers U23s saw much of the ball and dominated possession, creating a number of good looks on goal. The finishing touch in the final third never came, however, as by halftime, the score remained 0-0.

In the second half, Michel entered into the contest as a substitute, alongside University of Portland teammate, Gio Magana-Rivera. The Timbers U23s began creating more chances right away in the final 45 minutes, but the score remained deadlocked due to some last-ditch diving saves and tackles from the Lane United defense and goalkeeper.

Finally, the winning moment came in the 85th minute of play when a nice combination sequence on the right side of the 18-yard box led Magana-Rivera into a good position, and he fed Michel in the middle of the box who blasted his shot past the Lane United goalkeeper and into the back of the net, putting the Timbers U23s up 1-0.

Michel actually had a chance to make it 2-0 a few minutes later on a 1v1 breakaway, but a quality save was made by the goalkeeper, keeping the game within reach for Lane United. Over the final few minutes of regulation and stoppage time, Lane United pressed in search of the equalizer, and after generating five-to-six long-throw opportunities and three-to-four corner-kicks, Timbers U23 goalkeeper Jordan Farr and the Timbers U23 defense came up big with saves and clearances, sealing the shutout victory.

The shutout is Farr’s second of the 2017 PDL season.

The Timbers U23s (4-1-4) will play Lane United FC again in two days, but this time at McCulloch Stadium. Kickoff on Saturday evening is slated for 7 p.m.

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