PORTLAND, Ore. – If the Portland Timbers were riding high coming off their first two-game winning streak of the season, their Cascadia rival Vancouver Whitecaps sent them crashing to earth.
But things got a little wild first.
Two Pedro Morales penalty kicks and goals by Erik Hurtado and Jordan Harvey, all coming after Maximiliano Urruti gave the Timbers a 1-0 lead in the third minute, powered the Whitecaps to a dramatic 4-3 victory Sunday evening at Providence Park. Not before the unpredictable nature of a Cascadia rivalry led to late goals by Gaston Fernandez and Will Johnson, making for some precarious moments for the Whitecaps.
Vancouver, coming off another wild Cascadia match last weekend, a 2-2 tie against the Seattle Sounders, are now unbeaten in their last four matches, three of those being wins, and jump into fourth place in the Western Conference with 20 points from 12 games.
Portland came into the match having earned the franchise’s first ever two-game road winning streak, with victories over the New York Red Bulls and Chivas USA, and riding a six-game unbeaten streak. But they remain in eighth place with 16 points from 14 games.
The evening’s proceedings started wonderfully for Portland.
The build-up on Urruti’s goal started with Darlington Nagbe keeping possession through the harassment of a number of Vancouver defenders on the right wing. He played ahead to Diego Valeri, who crossed to Urruti at the top of the area. The Argentine striker used Steve Zakuani on the left wing as a decoy to open space in the defense and unleash a left-footed blast past Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted.
The Timbers nearly found another goal just four minutes later through Valeri, whose straight-on shot required a diving save by Ousted.
But then the speed of Vancouver’s front four began to open up the Timbers defense.
In the 16th minute, Hurtado drove right around Diego Chara on the left wing. Chara tried to recover but ended up tripping Hurtado in front of the box, and referee Kevin Scott immediately whistled for a penalty kick.
Vancouver’s second penalty, the Timbers’ league-high eighth conceded on the season, came in the 26th minute when Hurtado played through to a charging Kekuta Manneh. He also easily maneuvered around the Timbers backline and was clipped down by Pa Modou Kah, before Sebastian Fernandez was immediately tripped by Jorge Villafana.
Morales coolly converted both spot kicks.
Hurtado, a native of nearby Beaverton and Timbers U-23 product, got his run-of-play goal in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time when he collected a Nigel Reo-Coker cross and fired point-blank on Donovan Ricketts. The big Timbers ‘keeper saved the first attempt, but Hurtado bundled home the rebound for his third goal in as many games.
Portland also had several opportunities in the back-and-forth first half, namely on a Urruti header that drew woodwork in the 19th minute off a corner kick.
The Timbers also felt they were deserving of a penalty kick of their own in the 31st minute when Valeri was clipped down in the box from behind, but a Scott whistle was not forthcoming.
Harvey added to Portland’s misery two minutes into the second half when he let fly a curling left-footed blast past Ricketts after collecting a Morales cross from clear across the 16-yard box.
After several close calls from Valeri and second-half substitute Fanendo Adi, the Timbers finally pulled one back in the 77th minute via a Fernandez header off a Valeri cross. And then a perfectly placed Adi volley found Johnson, who made good with an outstanding volley of his own to score in the 86th minute.
Near misses on a free kick by Johnson in the 89th minute and a header by center back Rauwshan McKenzie in the first minute of stoppage time nearly gave the Timbers an improbable equalizer, but the frenetic rally fell just short.
The Timbers are back in action Saturday when they play at Real Salt Lake, while Vancouver travel to play the Philadelphia Union on the same day.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Pedro Morales||Sure, his goals came off PKs, but he hit several outstanding passes and rose to the occasion once again for the 'Caps|
|2||Diego Valeri||Nearly beat fellow South American playmaker Morales with his own outstanding display, but like Timbers, came up just short|
|3||Erik Hurtado||His goal was ultimately a little fluky, but he gave Portland's defense fits all game, and drew the first PK to get 'Caps going|