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Timbers draw up a way to deflate Whitecaps

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Neither team got exactly what it wanted, but it hurt worse for the Vancouver Whitecaps, whose playoff hopes evaporated Sunday night despite a 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers.

Portland missed an opportunity to catch Real Salt Lake atop the MLS Western Conference, but Vancouver's playoff hopes all but disappeared by not claiming three points for a win.

The Timbers' postseason plans are all but secure, with Portland sitting third in the West at 50 points with three games remaining. RSL has 52 points with two matches to go, and Seattle has 51 with three games left. Los Angeles and Colorado are tied for fifth with 48 points through 31 of the 34 regular-season games.

The top five qualify for the 10-team league playoffs, and San Jose is sixth with 44 points and only three games in which to catch a team ahead of it in the standings.

Vancouver (11-11-9) is at 42 points after 31 games.

Portland (12-5-14) got go-ahead goals Sunday from Darlington Nagbe and Will Johnson. Their goals, in the 41st and 77th minutes, gave the Timbers leads of 1-0 and 2-1.

Vancouver responded with scores in the 76th and 78th minutes of a wild finish that saw Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts save the tie with some key saves.

The Whitecaps outshot Portland 16-14, with an 8-3 edge in shots on goal, and Ricketts wound up making six saves to one by Vancouver's David Ousted.

Johnson and Nagbe assisted on each other's goals before the announced crowd of 20,303 at BC Place.

Nagbe's long-distance tally gave him a team-high nine goals this season, a team single-season record.

Johnson's score came from the top of the box and was eighth of the season, with Nagbe getting his career-high fourth assist.

"It’s a big point overall. It’s not what we came here for, but it doesn’t allow them to make up any ground, so that’s huge," Portland coach Caleb Porter said.

Forward Camilo Sanvezzo scored both Whitecaps goals.

“We controlled most of the game," Ricketts said, "but they’re playing for their season, so they mounted a spirited comeback, and I think we handled it well on the road and we came out with the point.”