The Portland Timbers were their own worst enemies tonight as they lost 2-1 to the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps. The loss is the Timbers’ first in sixteen games, a streak that extended back to April of this year, and their first at Providence Park this season.
The visitors were able to put together a chance in the 12th minute, pushing the ball quickly down the center of the pitch. Shrugging off a tackle from David Guzman, Whitecaps midfielder Aly Ghazal dribbled forward and found Kei Kamara on the edge of the Timbers box. With the Timbers scrambling to recover, Kamara lined up a shot only to put his attempt wide of the far post.
The Whitecaps were able to capitalize on their next chance when, in the 14th minute, they earned a foul in their own half. Vancouver captain Kendall Waston hit a long free kick that lured Jeff Attinella off his line only for Kamara to cut in front of Larrys Mabiala and put a head on the ball, catching Attinella out of position as it skipped over the line to give the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead.
The Timbers came close to answering in the 18th minute as they laid siege to the Vancouver box, forcing a series of passes and crosses in that the visitors scrambled to defend, eventually conceding a corner kick. On the restart, Diego Valeri floated a curling ball to the back post where Mabiala rose up to meet it. He put a head to the ball, but Mabiala could not steer it toward goal.
In the 41st minute the Timbers came even closer as Valeri was taken down with an errant tackle as he played a square ball out wide to Diego Chara. Referee Jair Marrufo was quick to point to the spot and Valeri stepped up to his second penalty in two weeks but pulled his shot wide of goal.
Things took a turn for the worse in the 43rd minute for the Timbers as the Whitecaps extended their lead to 2-0, striking quickly down the field on the break. Whitecaps Designated Player Brek Shea raced down the sideline and hit a head-level cross into the box for the diminutive Cristian Techera. Techera worked his way goal-side of Alvas Powell and powered a header toward goal that Attinella could only wave at before it hit the back of the net.
Down by two at the half, the Timbers were forced to make an early substitution, taking off Samuel Armenteros due to a knock picked up late in the first half and leaving Dairon Asprilla as the side’s lone striker.
Timbers substitute Andy Polo had a chance early in his run out, cutting in from the wing in the 49th minute and hitting a curling shot on goal that had Stefan Marinovic sprawling out to push the ball away. Marinovic’s rebound was collected by Asprilla in the Whitecaps box, but he could not get off a clean shot and had the ball deflected up and onto the bar for a corner kick.
In the 59th minute the Timbers came close again as they found Powell on the run down the right flank. Muscling his way past a defender, Powell carried the ball into the Whitecaps box and hit a close-in shot from a tight angle, but Marinovic was able to hold his ground and block the shot away.
The Timbers had a second penalty shout in the 62nd minute of the match when a cross into the box from Powell struck the arm of Vancouver full back Brett Levis. Levis had his arm fully tucked in to his side, however, and Marrufo waved away the Timbers’ appeals.
Less than ten minutes later, the Timbers were back at the penalty spot. As Sebastian Blanco carried the ball into the Vancouver box he was bundled over from behind by full back Sean Franklin and Marrufo was quick to point to the spot for the second time in the match. Valeri again stepped up to take the spot kick, this time tucking the ball neatly into the back of the Vancouver net and pulling the Timbers within one.
In the 89th minute Blanco was again taken down in the Whitecaps’ end, giving the Timbers a free kick five yards outside the box. Valeri stepped up and hit a curling shot off the free kick that swerved around the visitors wall and looked good to pick out the back of the net, but Marinovic again came up big for the Whitecaps, making a diving save across the face of goal.
The Timbers are back on the road for the next match, traveling to the nation’s capitol to take on D.C. United this Wednesday, August 15th.