The Portland Timbers finished their preseason with a 1-1 draw against a game Vancouver Whitecaps side at chilly Providence Park tonight. The match was a testy affair that saw a total of 31 fouls called as both teams played hard for the win.
Will Johnson opened the scoring just 3' in after a foul brought Gaston Fernandez down just outside the Whitecaps box. Johnson stepped up to the free kick, firing the ball low and hard through a seam in the Vancouver wall. Faced with Johnson's bullet, Whitecaps keeper David Ousted got his body in front of the ball, but could not control the shot as it bounced off his arms and into the the net to put the Timbers up 1-0.
With Vancouver forced to chase the game, the Timbers were able to control the ball for long stretches of the first half, moving the ball around and trying to break down the tenacious Vancouver defense. The final pass was once again missing, however, as the Timbers were unable to force a save from Ousted, other than his bungled attempt on the earlier goal.
The Timbers could have had a second in the 35' when Diego Valeri played a long, chipped pass into the Vancouver box for a streaking Maximiliano Urruti. Fighting his way goal-side of his defender, Urruti received the ball and chipped it over Ousted, only to have the shot go over the bar as he was dragged down from behind. The Timbers and the assembled fans in Providence Park appealed for a penalty kick, but none was given.
The second half started off much more evenly, with both teams making regular forays down the pitch. The Timbers gradually managed to reassert control over the possession in the half, but once again were unable to turn that advantage into goals.
The lack of an insurance goal would come back to haunt the Timbers in the 79' when Kekuta Manneh received the ball on the Timbers' right flank and drove toward the goal. Jack Jewsbury, attempting to block the ball out of bounds, slid in but got a piece of Manneh, bringing the tricky winger down on the end line and getting no pity from the referee who quickly pointed to the spot.
Russell Tiebert Sebastian Fernandez stepped up for the Whitecaps and hit his penalty kick low and hard enough to squirt past Donovan Ricketts and tie up the match. The penalty was the second the Timbers have conceded and the fourth set piece goal allowed during the preseason.
Having already brought off Valeri and Urruti for Kalif Alhassan and Ben Zemanski, the Timbers found themselves with a decidedly defensive looking set-up on the pitch, but still pushed forward in search of the game winner. The best opportunity to snag the win came in the 83' when a headed clearance fell to Johnson at the top of the box. Controlling the bouncing ball, Johnson snapped off a quick volley, only to have his shot flash just high of the bar and out of bounds.