VANCOUVER, B.C. – Don't count the Portland Timbers out of any match. Even when they're down to 10 men.
Minutes after losing Futty Danso to a red card, the Timbers managed to score a late equalizer on Saturday to salvage a 2-2 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of 19,823 at BC Place.
Jose Valencia played hero in the 84th minute, challenging Brad Rusin to control a long ball from Will Johnson, before cutting back past Andy O’Brien and slotting home coolly past Brad Knighton. However, there were suspicions that the ball touched his arm as it came down.
The draw extends Portland's unbeaten streak to 10 matches and solidifies 2nd-place position in the Western Conference, and leaves Vancouver winless against either of their Cascadia Cup rivals, Portland and the Seattle Sounders, since the Caps moved up to MLS.
With the Whitecaps playing just three days after playing away to Montreal in the Amway Canadian Championship final, the match opened up with the Timbers taking control of the play. Moving the ball through midfield, they would finish with an overwhelming 62.7% to 37.3% possession advantage.
But the Caps got on the board first after Will Johnson fouled Camilo just outside the area on the right side. The Brazilian curled the resulting freekick over the wall and into the top right corner in the 24th minute.
Portland continued to push to get the equalizer, but their efforts were dinged when they lost attacker Darlington Nagbe to injury in the 34th minute. He was replaced by Kalif Alhassan.
Johnson made amends for his foul on Camilo on the opening goal, leveling the score from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute. It was his 5th goal of the season. He also created the penalty with a shot that struck Andy O'Brien's arm as it bent goalward.
After converting his penalty, Johnson stared and seemed to shush the Vancouver supporters group, the Southsiders. Referee Matthew Foerster pointed to the spot after Andy O’Brien made contact with the ball with his outstretched arm.
But the vistors’ joy was short lived, as moments later Gershon Koffie pushed the Whitecaps into a 2-1 lead, bending a shot into the top right corner of Donovan Ricketts’ goal after Camilo teed him up at the edge of the area. It was Koffie's second goal of the season.
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On 71 minutes, Koffie was forced withdraw due to what appeared to be a hamstring problem, replaced by Matt Watson.
Ten minutes later, the Whitecaps went up a man when Danso appeared to bring Camilo down as they both chased down a ball over the top from Nigel Reo-Coker. The decision seemed harsh, as replays suggested that the two players tangled together evenly as they ran side by side. In fact, it was Camilo who stepped across Futty's path.
But the Timbers may have received some karma on the equalizer. Valencia ran under Johnson's high, hopeful ball from midfield and while Rochat jumped the wrong way, "El Trencito" brought the ball down. However, several Whitecaps players and TV replays hinted that Valencia may have used his arm to bring the ball under control.
Either way, Valencia made no mistake with his shot, putting away his first-ever MLS goal.
The Timbers play next on May 25, when they travel to RFK Stadium to face D.C. United. The Whitecaps now have a 10-day break, returning to action on May 29 at BC Place in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship against the Montreal Impact, with the tie level on aggregate 0-0.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Camilo (VAN)||A stunning freekick, an assist on Koffee's winner, a constant threat. What else needs to be said?|
|2||Diego Chara (POR)||Tireless hard-nosed work in the midfield, as always, leading to TImbers' possession advantage (67%-33%).|
|3||Will Johnson (POR)||A poor first half, but rose to the occasion in 2nd: created penalty, put away the penalty, assisted on equalizer, closed down the midfield after Timbers went down a man|