VANCOUVER, B.C – Unbeaten in their last 9 matches the Portland Timbers went north, and squared off against their Canadian Cascadian rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps twice took leads through Camilo Sanvezzo, and Gershon Koffie, but it wasn’t enough as Portland equalized each time in the second half through a Will Johnson penalty and Jose Valencia to draw 2-2 in front of 19,823 fans at BC Place.
The latter goal was Valencia’s first in MLS an came after his colleague Mamadou Danso had been sent off and will be especially painful for the home side who looked to have been secure for their first Cascadia Cup win in MLS after the red card.
Danso was given the harsh red card in the 81st minute after tripping up Camilo Sanvezzo. Danso was the last Portland defender back and it looked a goal scoring opportunity but he barely touched Camilo who went down with ease then and for most of the afternoon.
There is some credit due to the 10-man Timbers who could have folded but they came back with vengeance, and scored the point saver when most people would have counted them out.
Jose Valencia raced up the field, and completely turned Brad Rusin and Andy O’Brien inside out before slotting the ball past Brad Knighton for his first goal of the season.
Before the late drama, Andy O’Brien was earlier whistled for a handball in the Whitecaps box that resulted in a penalty for Will Johnson. Camilo had opened the scoring with a devastating free kick awarded again after he had taken a soft tumble.
Timbers captain Will Johnson returning to his native Canada said:
“These western conference games with so much on the line every game matters just so much when you’re battling for playoff position, so I’ll take a road result anywhere.
Obviously coming up to Vancouver it’s always nice to get a result up here. They don’t seem to like me very much up here so it feels good.”
The Toronto, Ontario native, was the best player on either side and had high praise for the Whitecaps goals.
“Looking back you have to give them credit. Two really good goals they just bent into the top corner around Futty (Mamadou Danso), and myself. Obviously it wasn’t good but at the end of the day we’ve got to give them a little credit. That’s not a garbage goal, that’s a pretty good goal.”
Vancouver, who had yet to lose a MLS match at home this season showed little sign of fatigue for a team that had a midweek cup game in Montreal on Wednesday. However Brad Knighton, and Jordan Harvey both started their first MLS games of the season.
Portland should have opened the scoring in the 14′ when Diego Valeri took a shot on goal from a sharp angle. Brad Knighton wasn’t able to snag the ball, and with a chaotic scramble in front of him Rodney Wallace was unable to poke the ball home as it sat on the goal line. Jordan Harvey, and Brad Rusin did just enough to clear the ball out for Timbers corner.
The Whitecaps who have started slowly in their most recent MLS matches at BC Place opened the scoring in the 24′ on a suspect yellow card Will Johnson picked up for clipping Camilo Sanvezzo.
The usually steady, and reliable Michael Harrington gave the ball away, and Johnson was forced to commit a questionable foul just outside the Timbers box.
Camilo stepped up and smashed the ball over the Portland wall, and past a shocked looking Donovan Ricketts. There was absolutely nothing Ricketts could do as Camilo placed the ball into the top left corner.
The 6’5 keeper was in a surprisingly good mood after the match, and had this to say.
“It wasn’t our best game but we fought, and came away with a point so it’s always good to get a point on the road. They were well taken goals, terrific free kick, and Koffie had a touch, and set shoot. We didn’t play our best soccer, and we didn’t lose.”
Portland was carrying the play before the opening goal, and the momentum that they had quickly shifted over to Vancouver. Diego Valeri was given a yellow card for a clip on Y.P. Lee, and to make matters worse forward Darlington Nagbe had to exit the game in the 34′ with an ankle injury.
All the confidence and possession Portland had generated in the first 20 minutes of the first half was completely thrown out the window with those sequence of events in the first half. Vancouver was happy to time waste, and sit back for the rest of the half.
The Timbers caught a lucky break early in the second half when the ball struck the outstretched arm of Whitecaps defender Andy O’Brien. Referee Matthew Foerster correctly pointed to the spot, and Will Johnson scored on a lovely place penalty kick past Brad Knighton who dove to his right instead of his left.
The deadlock did not last long.
The Whitecaps quickly pounced back on the counter attack for a go ahead goal in the 54′. Camilo did a fantastic job of backing into the Timbers box before passing the ball to an oncoming Gershon Koffie. The Ghanaian native curled a lovely shot past the outstretched Donovan Ricketts for his second goal of the season.
The Timbers were pressing for the equalizing goal from that moment forward, and they looked to have taken a crucial blow in the 81′ minute when Timbers defender Mamadou Futty Danso was sent off for a dubious red card. With Camilo Sanvezzo trying to get past Danso, he cynically went down under minimal pressure from the defender.
Martin Rennie was one of many who with admirable honesty didn’t believe a red card should have been shown.
“I thought their red card was a bit harsh. That moment was a big turning point and we should have seen the game out.”
Despite facing a daunting task Portland were undeterred, and fought to earn a 2-2 draw.
Caleb Porter brought on Jose Valencia in the 77′ for Jake Jewsbury in an effort to getting the tying goal. The 21 year-old Colombian International dazzled Brad Rusin, and Andy O’Brien before finding the net for his first career MLS goal.
The Whitecaps were visibly disappointed with a 2-2 draw, and none more that centre back Brad Rusin who looked horrible on the game trying goal. Rusin was squarely placing all the blame on himself post match.
“I take full responsibility of the second goal, it feels like a loss today but we get out of here with a tie.”
Vancouver Whitecaps: Brad Knighton; Y. P. Lee, Andy O’Brien, Brad Rusin, Jordan Harvey; Nigel Reo-Coker (C), Jun Marques Davidson (88 – Darren Mattocks), Gershon Koffie (71 – Matt Watson); Russell Teibert, Camilo Sanvezzo, Erik Hurtado (83 – Alain Rochat).
Substitutions: Joe Cannon, Alain Rochat, Matt Watson, Darren Mattocks, Caryle Mitchell, Corey Hertzog, Tom Heinemann.
Portland Timbers: Donovan Ricketts, Jack Jewsbury (77 – Jose Valencia), Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Mamadou Danso, Michael Harrington, Diego Chara, Diego Valeri, Will Johnson (C), Darlington Nagbe (34 – Kalif Alhassan), Ryan Johnson (62 - Frederic Piquionne), Rodney Wallace.
Substitutions: Jake Gleeson, Pa Modou Kah, Ben Zemanski, Kalif Alhassan, Sal Zizzo, Frederic Piquionne, Jose Valencia.
Notes: Nigel Reo-Coker will miss the next Whitecaps MLS game on June 1, against the New York Red Bulls due to yellow card accumulation. It was confirmed that Darlington Nagbe tweaked his ankle. Portland will play DC United next Saturday May 25, while the Whitecaps don’t play until Wednesday May 29, vs Montreal in the 2nd leg of the Amway Canadian Championship.