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Portland Timbers lose 2-1 to Vancouver Whitecaps, miss out on home playoff berth

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MLS: Portland Timbers at Vancouver Whitecaps Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers fielded an entirely new XI in the last match of the regular season, losing 2-1 to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the process. The loss means that the Timbers end the 2018 season in 5th place in the Western Conference and — thanks to some surprising results from the teams above them in standings — will play at FC Dallas in the knock out round of the playoffs midweek.

The Whitecaps had dedicated the night to saying goodbye to Bayern Munich bound Alphonso Davies and the Canadian youngster showed why he is making the jump to Europe in just the 14th minute. Receiving the ball out wide on the Timbers’ right, Davies drove into the box and cut to the end line. Juking his way into enough space to work, Davies clipped a low ball into the box and found the run of Yordy Reyna at the top of the six yard box. Reyna took his shot first-time, but could not get over the ball, sending it up and into the stands.

Chances for the Timbers were uncommon in the early going as the comprehensively rotated side struggled to get on the same page. Although never threatening, Dairon Asprilla did manage an entertaining chance in the 23rd minute off a throw deep in the Vancouver end. Receiving the throw with his back to goal, Asprilla flicked it up into the air and threw himself into a bicycle kick, connecting well and putting the ball on goal, but directly to Whitecaps keeper Stefan Marinovic.

In the 28th minute, Davies once again got on the ball and this time was able to open the scoring for the Whitecaps. Receiving the ball deep in the midfield, Davies saw a channel ahead of him and took off on the dribble. Blowing by Lawrence Olum, then cutting inside around Bill Tuiloma, Davies carried the ball to the top of the Timbers box and let rip with a powerful shot. Jeff Attinella was able to put a touch on the shot as it swerved away from his dive, but it was not enough to make the save as the ball splashed into the back of the net.

Just three minutes later Davies struck again. With the ball out wide on the flank, Reyna hit a curling ball into the Timbers box that looked like it would fall comfortably to left back Marco Farfan. As the ball dropped, however, Farfan looked to bring it down rather than clearing the ball away, only for it to bobble away from him. As the Timbers looked on, Davies was already reacting, pouncing on the ball and firing off a quick, point blank shot around Attinella to give the Whitecaps a 2-0 lead.

The Whitecaps came close again in the 57th minute after a long period of possession in the Timbers’ half. On the ball outside the box, Vancouver midfielder Russell Teibert chipped a ball in toward the back post for the run of Kei Kamara and the forward rose up to meet the ball with his head. Putting the ball back across the face of goal, Karama had the placement to put the Whitecaps up 3-0, but Attinella was able to get back and just get a hand to the ball for the save.

In the 69th minute, the Whitecaps caught the Timbers committed forward and hit out quickly down the pitch, looking for their 3rd goal of the night. With a numbers advantage, the Whitecaps found Reyna alone on the wing and, after settling the ball, the midfielder hit a curling shot that came perilously close to dropping over Attinella, but clipped the top of the crossbar instead.

The Timbers did manage a chance in the 73rd minute as Marco Farfan got forward down the left flank and hit a curled cross into the Vancouver box. It was Lucas Melano rising up out of the crowd to meet the ball, putting a head to it and sending the ball straight toward goal, but also straight to Marinovic for the easy save.

As the final minutes of the match ticked away, the Timbers did manage to snag a goal of their own. In the 89th minute, Asprilla dribbled his way toward the end line before hitting a low cross into the Whitecaps box. Quickly getting down to the pitch, Marinovic was able to get a fingertip to the ball, but could not steer it out of the path of Andres Flores who was on hand to touch the ball home at the back post and bring the Timbers within one.

The goal would be the last action of the match, however, as the Whitecaps ground out the final minutes of play.