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BY MAVERICK PALLACK/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/Wharton's penalty kick pulls Portland even with Tulsa

Heading into stoppage time, Portland Timbers 2 were looking defeat in the eye for the third straight match on Saturday.

Despite more possession, shots and corners, T2 was trailing 1-0 to the Tulsa Roughnecks with four minutes of added time left at Providence Park.

However, a glimmer of hope arose in the 91st minute, when Tulsa midfielder Brayan Reyes tried to waste time by kicking the ball away after a foul. Referee Marco Vega caught him in the act and sent him off with his second yellow card.

Although up a man, T2's hopes seemed lost when they were awarded a match-altering gift.

A wild tackle in the box by Tulsa substitute Fredlin Mompremier gave Portland a chance to tie the game on a 98th-minute penalty kick.

This set up the last play of the game: a one-on-one battle between goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar and Portland midfielder Todd Wharton.

"I was trying to stay focused and calm," Wharton said. "You've got to go up there with confidence and pick a side and shoot."

Stajduhar picked left. Wharton picked right. The ball swiftly hit the back of the net. Before Tulsa could even kick off, the final whistle sounded.

"We were hoping we would create one more chance on goal," Timbers 2 coach Cameron Knowles said. "We didn't expect it to come in such dramatic fashion, but credit to Todd to have the composure to put it away on the last kick of the game."

T2 (7-4-7, 28 poiints) is tied for fourth place in the 18-team United Soccer League Championship Western Conference. Tulsa (4-8-6, 18) is 16th.

The Roughnecks lived up to their name, committing 22 fouls to earn four yellows and two red cardse. Whether it was just physical play, or a tactic to throw T2 off tempo, the fouls eventually cost them the win.

"It was tough to get a rhythm because there were a lot of fouls coming from them. I guess we had some (18), too," Wharton said. "You have to stay with it and fight to the end and hopefully get a chance like we did."

Tulsa took the lead in the 14th minute on midfielder Rodrigo Da Costa's sixth goal of the season.

After a T2 turnover, Roughneck midfielder Cristhian Altamirano was able to gather the ball just inside the right side of the box and cross it toward the back post and to Da Costa.

Da Costa, who lost his mark when Portland defender Harold Hanson fell five yards back, had an open left-footed volley, which he easily put past goalie Aljaz Ivacic.

"You've got to be able to defend in those moments, deny crosses into the box," Knowles said. "Those are the type of actions you're going to see week in and week out."

Even though they had plenty of free kicks and 11 corner kicks, T2 struggled to find any good looks on goal.

They will continue to work on set pieces before their next game on Saturday, July 13 at 8 p.m. at the 10th-place Sacramento Republic FC (7-7-2, 23).

"When you have that many opportunities, you need to create more chances on set pieces," Knowles said. "I think we can work on our service, timing and runs and be far more dangerous in those moments."


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