Vancouver Whitecaps 0 : 1 Portland Timbers
Portland Timbers won the first ever MLS game at BC Place by beating Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 courtesy of a 25th minute goal by Kenny Cooper and earned three points, which keep them on the cusp of the last wild card slot.
They are now level on points and tied with tenth placed New York though behind on goal difference. Both are three points behind Houston who have played a match more.
Vancouver failed to inspire the 21,000 crowd on their home opener and this season cannot end soon enough for a franchise that will surely dispose of some personnel at more than one level of the club. For all this was the opening game at BC Place, the result also cements Vancouver’s ‘other place’ at the very bottom of the MLS table. Unlike the stadium, there is nothing new about that.
James Marcelin came in for the suspended Kalif Alhassan and Eric Brunner assumed the captain’s armband in Jack Jewsbury’s absence. For Vancouver, Mustapha Jarju was relegated to the bench after a flurry of missed chances in the Seattle match last week. Davide Chiumiento played up front with Eric Hassli. Shea Salinas came off the bench to start.
The first five minutes passed without incident as both sides seemed a little daunted by the occasion.
Portland had the first chance in the 8th minute when a Sal Zizzo corner fell to Marcelin. His swivel shot was quickly blocked. Marcelin was a threat again but he headed a Mike Chabala free kick over. Chabala was taking the set pieces in the absence of the suspended Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury.
Vancouver’s first chance came on the quarter hour but Gershon Koffie’s long range effort sailed over Perkins’ bar. Their closest chance thus far came when Salinas slipped the ball past the post, having received a headed knock down by Pete Vagenas. Vagenas himself could have tried a shot on target had his natural instinct been more aggressive.
Mike Chabala curled a 24th minute free kick straight through the Vancouver wall which disintegrated far too early. Luckily Joe Cannon was in good position to correct. At the other end, Camilo didn’t get a free kick even beyond the Portland wall.
Portland took the lead in the 25th minute.Chara broke up field on the left, provided a superb pass to Kenny Cooper, who rifled into the net on the volley from just inside the penalty area. It was a goal Portland deserved. The tightly packed knot of Timbers supporters erupted, and the joy was unconfined in the Timbers dugout.
Perkins was called into action in the 31st minute. Gershon Koffie found Chiumiento 30 yards out. He beat Chara twice and hammered the ball on target but the keeper kicked it over the bar for a corner.
Chiumiento hit the side netting three minutes later, although many in the crowd thought Vancouver had scored when they saw the net bulge.
Vancouver made the first change in the 57th minute, taking off Pete Vagenas for John Thorrington.
Cannon had to be alert in the 59th minute after Darlington Nagbe robbed Brovsky of the ball. Cooper’s shot hit Joe Cannon’s leg and the grateful keeper gathered at the second attempt.
John Thorrington fell on an injured arm after an attack by Marcelin. Marcelin was booked, but it seemed a little harsh given that Thorrington’s reaction was due to a pre-existing injury.
Perlaza was withdrawn for Alexander in the 65th minute. Nagbe went up front and Alexander took up a left midfield role. Whitecaps brought Jarju on for Chiumiento three minutes later.
The game entered the final 20 minutes with Portland looking relatively comfortable. News of D.C. United’s defeat at Columbus changed the picture somewhat. Portland’s game in Washington D.C. was looking like a real six pointer akin to their home match with Houston.Timbers hearts skipped a beat in the 79th minute when Salinas pounced on a loose ball and fired goalward with a clear sight of Perkins. Fortunately for the visitors, he fired straight at the keeper. Seconds later Hassli narrowly failed to bring down a long lobbed pass by Rochat.
Tom Soehn removed Salinas for Long Tan shortly afterwards as he sought to rescue something from the game.
In the 85th minute Cooper was removed for Bright Dike at center forward, presumably just to give some fresh legs to the time wasting department up front.
There were some nervous moments for the Timbers in the last ten minutes as the Whitecaps managed to get some crosses into the box, but the headers that met them were largely wide or over the bar.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon, 12.Jeb Brovsky, 6.Jay DeMerit, 4.Alain Rochat, 26.Jordan Harvey; 22.Shea Salinas (23.Long Tan 80′), 28.Gershon Koffie, 8.Peter Vagenas (11.John Thorrington 57′), 37.Camilo; 20.Davide Chiumiento (7.Mustapha Jarju 68′), 29.Eric Hassli
Subs not used: 18.Jay Nolly, 2.Michael Boxall, 13.Michael Nanchoff, 15.Philippe Davies
1.Troy Perkins; 30.Lovel Palmer, 98.Mamadou Danso, 5.Eric Brunner, 4.Mike Chabala; 7.Sal Zizzo, 21.Diego Chara, 14.James Marcelin, 6.Darlinton Nagbe; 15.Jorge Perlaza (17.Eric Alexander 66′), 33.Kenny Cooper (9.Bright Dike 85′)
Subs not used: 20.Jake Gleeson, 8.Peter Lowry, 12.David Horst, 22.Rodney Wallace, 26.Brian Umony