Timbers sink Whitecaps 1-0
For the second game in a row, the Portland Timbers made an early goal the difference maker.
On Sunday, Sept. 27, the result was a 1-0 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at Providence Park. The third consecutive MLS win for the Timbers keeps Portland tied with Seattle atop the Western Conference.
Felipe Mora's flick header from an Eryk Williamson free kick put the Timbers in front before the match was five minutes old and — as was the case in the Wednesday 1-0 win over Seattle — the Timbers weathered several quality chances for the Whitecaps and came away with a second consecutive shutout after going 14 matches between clean sheets.
Portland is 7-4-3 (24 points). Seattle is 7-3-3 after a Sunday win over the LA Galaxy. The Sounders have played one fewer game than the Timbers and also have a significant advantage in the goal-differential statistic.
This match counted as a home match for Vancouver, which fell to 5-9 (15 points) and sits 10th in the Western Conference. The Whitecaps are using Portland as their home for the rest of 2020 because of travel limitations between the United States and Canada.
Portland finished a busy, challenging, September 4-2-1 and have won three in a row for the second time this season — the only MLS club with two three-game winning streaks in 2020.
The "visitors" on their own turf, the Timbers sat back and played a second half reminiscent of a road team protecting a lead.
"The team dropped a little bit back (in the second half), and we defended well most of the time," Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. "The effort has been really good from the guys."
Vancouver's best chance of the second half was a close-range open header at the far post that a lunging Lucas Cavallini sent wide in the 52nd minute. In the 74th minute, Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark came up with his play of the night when he raced to the top of the penalty area and headed the ball out of danger.
"We defended with everything that we had," Savarese said. "We attacked with quality the first half, with counters in the second. We've very content with the result."
Portland had four chances in the last nine minutes to add an insurance goal, but Whitecaps goalkeeper Bryan Meredith came up with three of his six saves, the best a diving block of a Diego Valeri shot.
Valeri came on for Eryk Williamson at halftime. Yimmi Chara, who had scored in three consecutive games, entered in the 57th minute and Jeremy Ebobisse and Jaroslaw Niezgoda played the final 17 minutes and helped see the victory through.
Centennial High graduate Marco Farfan played the full match at left back, shaking off a couple first-half collisions that required attention from the training staff. Rookie right back Pablo Bonilla made his second consecutive start and helped Portland extend its shutout streak to 2 1/2 matches.
The Timbers dominated possession and momentum for the first half hour. The Whitecaps grew into the match as the first half went along and Fredy Montero had two terrific chances denied — a 38th-minute smash blocked by Portland's Dario Zuparic and a 40th-minute close-range header that goalkeeper Clark repelled.
Central defender Larrys Mabiala, who played alongside Dario Zuparic in his first full match since Aug. 29, said the Timbers could have made it easier on themselves by keeping more possession in the second half, when Vancouver had 62.5% of the possession, a significant amount of that in the attacking half.
"When you spend that much time in front of your own goal, you really have to be focused the whole game," said Mabiala, who had an important late clearance of a ball whipped into the penalty area.
The Timbers' next scheduled match is Saturday, Oct. 3, an 8 p.m. home match against the Colorado Rapids. Colorado's Sunday match with Sporting Kansas City was postponed because of four positive COVID-19 tests: one player and three staff members.
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