Forward Kenny Cooper
scored his third goal in four games and goalkeeper Troy Perkins recorded his
ninth shutout of the season as the Portland Timbers defeated Vancouver
Whitecaps FC 1-0 before a sellout crowd of 21,000 in the opening match at BC
Place on Sunday afternoon.
With the road victory, the Timbers (11-13-7, 40pts) move back into a two-way tie with the New York Red Bulls for the 10th and final playoff position at 40 points. The Red Bulls currently hold the playoff spot on tiebreakers. Both Portland and New York have just a two-point cushion over D.C. United (38pts) in the playoff standings.
The Timbers endured early pressure from Whitecaps FC and was able to take the lead near the half-hour mark when a breakaway led to Cooper's strike from the top left corner of the area. Anchored by Perkins' two saves, the Timbers defense made Cooper's goal stand, holding Vancouver to just a pair of shots on goal and held firm on several close chances from Whitecaps FC's attack throughout the match.
Cooper netted his seventh goal on the campaign, midfielder Diego Chara logged his fourth assist and Perkins' set a new career high with his ninth clean sheet as the Timbers earned their second road victory of the season.
Midfielders Shea Salinas and Camilo and forwards Davide Chiumiento and Eric Hassli combined for nine of the Whitecaps FC's 13 shots in the contest and goalkeeper Joe Cannon finished with three saves. Vancouver (4-16-10, 22pts) has lost three straight games.
Portland struck first in the 25th minute off a breakaway initiated by Chara. The Timbers' wall blocked a Whitecaps FC free kick and Chara charged up field with the ball. He chipped it ahead to Cooper breaking down the left side. Cooper chested the ball down at the top left corner of the box and, on his second touch, blasted a shot into the top far corner of the goal, lifting the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
The Timbers and Whitecaps FC traded chances in the first half as the two sides finished with seven shots each. Portland midfielder James Marcelin headed a free kick by defender Mike Chabala over the crossbar in the 10th minute. Vancouver's first close chance came courtesy of Salinas in the 22nd minute, when his rolling shot missed just wide of the left post. Perkins was called into action in the 32nd minute, tipping a blast by Camilo from just outside the box over the crossbar. Chiumiento had a bouncing shot, with pace, miss wide of the near post on the left side in the 34th minute.
Portland continued to press early in the second half, and Cooper nearly struck again in the 59th minute. Midfielder Darlington Nagbe collected a long ball played in and worked it into the box. He laid it off for Cooper roughly 12 yards out from goal. Cooper hit a hard, rolling shot right at Cannon.
The Timbers defense held steady throughout the second half and four minutes of added time to preserve the shutout. In the 79th minute, Salinas had an open look from the top of the box, but placed it right at Perkins. A contested header by Hassli in the 85th minute was pushed wide of the target. In the 89th minute, Hassli tried to work free in the box to get a shot off, but was pressured by several Portland players; his attempt along the end line was scooped up by Perkins.
The Timbers return home to play host to the Houston Dynamo in their regular-season home finale on Friday, Oct. 14, at JELD-WEN Field; kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. (PT) live on ROOT SPORTS. Portland will then finish the regular season with back-to-back road matches at D.C. United and Real Salt Lake.
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