Friday, Sept. 10: Timbers 1, Whitecaps 0
Goals: Own goal. Ball ends up in the net from a clearing attempt by Vancouver defender Ranko Veselinovic on a shot from the right side of the penalty area by Felipe Mora. Mora controlled a lofted pass from Sebastian Blanco and directed a ball to the front of the goal. Veselinovic was tracking a run by Yimmi Chara and had the ball deflect into the goal (1-0 Timbers, 66th minute).
What it means: Portland has won three consecutive matches by shutout, all on the road (a first in club history). The Timbers are 10-10-3 (33 points), fifth in the Western Conference pending weekend results. Vancouver is 7-8-8 (29 points), eighth in the West and saw its four-match win streak (and 10 unbeaten) end. Also, Portland is 2-1-0 in Cascadia Cup matches with one remaining. Vancouver visits Portland on Oct. 20. Seattle (1-1-0) and Vancouver (0-1-0) still square off twice in the regional supporters' competition.
Reaction: Set-piece defending was a real problem for the Timbers for the first half of the season. Portland has focused on that phase of play and been rewarded (though it was fortunate to escape Seattle with a clean sheet). On Friday at BC Place, Vancouver had a 10-0 advantage on corner kicks taken. The Whitecaps also had a few dangerous free kicks and a couple long throws into the box, but didn't convert. Portland defender Claudio Bravo was in the right spot to clear a shot from Déiber Caicedo in the 77th minute. In stoppage time, the Timbers blocked three shots in a row, the last by Larrys Mabiala on a close-range chance for Ryan Gauld. The six blocked shots inside the box reflect the commitment the Timbers have rediscovered in recent weeks.
Coach Giovanni Savarese (after his 50th MLS victory): "They pushed us to the limit. But I think the organization, the calmness to make sure that we did the right things, the understanding of the things that we asked the players to do, was noticeable. With the ball, I thought we were very good today — calm, patient, moving the ball in between the lines. Maybe sometimes we could have been a little bit better in getting in behind them. But, overall, I thought that the guys did a phenomenal job defensively and in set pieces as well."
Diego Chara on playing in his 300th MLS game for the Timbers: "It's amazing. This is the best way to get that 300th game for me — getting a win. I has been a long, long (time) to be here. I'm very happy. Now the team is getting confident and getting points. And those are really important for us right now."
Chara on protecting late leads: "I think we need to improve. Because the last two, three games, in the second half, we always have that problem with the ball. I think we need to be better in controlling balls, and (in) the second half, try to manage the tempo."
Sebastian Blanco on gaining fitness: "I try to play the most minutes as possible and help my teammates, so I'm happy to complete another 80 minutes. Now, try to rest and be available for the next game."
Up next: Colorado at Portland, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 15 (ROOT Sports TV).
IndyCar grand marshal: Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri will be the grand marshal for Sunday's Grand Prix of Portland IndyCar race at Portland International Raceway. He will give the command for the drivers to start their engines at 12:35 p.m. … Valeri (right leg injury) did not travel with the Timbers to Friday's match.
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