Caps lose to Portland, rush home for Battery
Simon Fudge, ctvbc.ca
Published Thursday, August 6, 2009 11:15PM PDT
The Vancouver Whitecaps lost a 1-0 decision to their Pacific Northwest rivals, the Portland Timbers.
A first-half strike by Ryan Pore took the Oregon-based outfit into a tie for first place in the USL First Division standings with a record of 10-1-9. The victory also extended their remarkable single-season unbeaten run in the league to 19 matches and confirmed the Timbers as first-time winners of the fan-based Cascadia Cup competition after winning two of their three regular season contests versus Vancouver.
It was another disappointing evening for the Blue and White in The City of Roses, with the 'Caps seeing their three-match unbeaten run come to an end with Thursday's loss. Vancouver's record falls to 7-8-4 and they remain in sixth place in the USL-1 standings.
In front of a vocal Timbers crowd of 10,783 at Portland's PGE Park, the first half saw the home side take control of the contest, as they created the majority of chances. On six minutes, Pore squandered a decent opportunity after mis-hitting a close-range strike from David Hayes' cross from the right. At the other end four minutes later, youngster Davies tried his luck from a Haber lay-off, but his effort flew wide of goal.
Chances were traded at both ends, with Whitecaps goalkeeper Jay Nolly stopping a Suzuki shot at the 20 minute mark before his Timbers' counterpart Steve Cronin was able to deny a Pozniak header from captain Martin Nash's corner two minutes later.
Despite being named USL-1 Player of the Week on Tuesday, Tyrell Burgess found the book of match referee Landis Wiley after fouling Suzuki near the edge of the Whitecaps box. Hayes then struck the ensuing free kick right at Nolly on 27 minutes.
Portland, however, looked strong going forward, and on the half-hour mark, the Timbers scored the match winner on the counter-attack. After cleverly dispossessing Nash in the Portland half, McManus took the ball and found fellow midfielder Johan Claesson. The Swede then played a quick pass to Pore, who broke in on the Vancouver goal with fellow striker Keita. Pore then side-stepped Nolly in the Whitecaps box before scoring off the back-tracking Knight to give the Timbers the lead.
The Timbers were in the ascendancy at this stage, with Nolly saving efforts from Portland's two Japanese imports in Nishimura on 33 minutes and Suzuki six minutes later.
Not letting the one-goal deficit get them down, the Whitecaps created the final two chances of the half through Haber. On 42 minutes, the young striker headed Nash's cross wide of goal before the Canadian youth international forced a good save from Cronin in the one minute of time added on.
As a result, the Timbers took a one-goal lead into the halftime break.
Looking to get right back into the derby contest, James had the first chance of the second half for the visitors. On 49 minutes, the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines international took a fine forward ball before cracking a superb shot on target that Cronin did well to knock away for a Vancouver corner.
At the other end on 58 minutes, Brian Farber was unlucky not to extend Portland's lead after striking the post with a shot. The Timbers midfielder eluded the attentions of Mason Trafford and beat Nolly with his effort, but could only find the woodwork. Moments later, Pore found Keita with a fine through ball, but the Guinean striker saw his goal-bound strike well saved by Nolly.
Then the 'Caps had a glorious chance to equalize on 63 minutes following a corner. Nash struck the ball back into the box, where James was in prime position to finish. However, Cronin was hand again to deny the Caribbean hit-man.
As the match reached the midway point of the half, Gbeke was introduced to the match for Haber. Moments later, James headed substitute Vicente Arze's cross wide of the target.
Despite creating some good chances in the match, James then made way for youngster Randy Edwini-Bonsu in the dying stages of the match, as the Whitecaps used up all five of their substitutions.
Yet, for all their changes and two minutes of time added on, the Whitecaps were unable to find a valuable equalizer on the road, as Portland maintained their undefeated home record with Thursday's win.
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The Whitecaps will have little time to ponder the defeat in The City of Roses, as they will quickly return home and prepare to host the high-flying Charleston Battery at Swangard Stadium on Friday evening.