BURNABY, B.C. - The Portland Timbers ended the 2007 regular season with a 0-0 draw against Northwest rival the Vancouver Whitecaps at Swangard Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Entering as the second seed, the Timbers will face the Whitecaps in the first round of the 2007 USL First Division playoffs.
With the draw, the Timbers (14-5-9, 51pts) become the first team in USL First Division history to record a turnaround season that saw them finish in last place one season (2006) followed by a top two finish the next season. Portland finished the season in second place, three points behind the Seattle Sounders. The 2007 postseason starts on Friday against Vancouver (9-7-12, 39pts)
Timbers goalkeeper Josh Wicks made a season-high 10 saves, five in the first half, to earn his league-leading 14th shutout of the season. Wicks spoiled one-on-one scoring opportunities in each half by Vancouver midfielder Tony Donatelli to keep the Whitecaps off the board. In the closing minutes of the match, Wicks stopped three point-blank shots to keep the score even at 0-0.
Portland missed taking the lead in the opening minute of the match on a shot by forward Chris Bagley. Midfielder Shaun Higgins played a ball up the left touch line to spring forward Matt Taylor on a run. Taylor worked the ball down to the endline outside the six-yard box and sent a cross to Bagley on a run at the near post, but his shot missed just wide.
Vancouver midfielder Dave Morris caught an unlucky break in the 28th minute when his shot from the top of the six-yard box rattled off the inside of the left post and along the goal line before Timbers defender Leonard Griffin cleared the ball. The Whitecaps outshot the Timbers 10-3 in the first half.
The Whitecaps continued their offensive pressure in the second half. In the 48th minute, Wicks' punch sent a ball out of the box to Donatelli who then cracked an 18-yard shot wide of the goal. Ten minutes later, forward Josh Hansen laid off a ball for Donatelli on the left side. Wicks came charging off his line to deny an eight-yard attempt by Donatelli.
The Timbers almost stole a goal on two chances late in the game. In the 61st minute, second-half substitute Lawrence Olum looped a header over the cross bar. The play started on a cross into the box for defender Cameron Knowles. Knowles knocked it out to Olum who lept over a crowd to get the ball but sailed it high. Then in the 74th minute, Bagley rocketed a 20-yard shot from the top left corner of the box, but his shot pinged off the far post and back into play.
In the closing minutes, Wicks and the Portland backline escaped a flury of activity inside the six-yard box. Wicks made a save, and another shot rattled off the crossbar before the ball could be cleared.
The Timbers will face the Whitecaps in the first round of the 2007 USL First Division playoffs. Vancouver will host the first of the two-game series on Friday at Swangard Stadium at 7 p.m. Portland will host the final game on Sunday at PGE Park at 5 p.m. presented by Spirit Mountain Casino. Sunday's match will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel. Tickets, starting at $12, are available at the PGE Park box office and through Ticketmaster.
Notes: Portland defender Cameron Knowles became the ninth player in Timbers modern-franchise history to play in all 28 matches in a season ... The Timbers are now 1-11-2 against the Whitecaps at Swangard Stadium since 2001 ... The Seattle Sounders defeated the Minnesota Thunder 1-0 on Sunday to capture the 2007 regular-season championship ... Portland played Sunday's match without head coach Gavin Wilkinson who was unable to attend the match due to his green card application process, assistant Rod Underwood filled in for Wilkinson.
POR: GK Wicks, D Griffin, D J. Thompson, D Knowles, D S. Thompson, M Higgins, M Kreamalmeyer (Olum, 57), M Gregor, M Poltl, F Bagley, F M. Taylor (Jordan, 78)
VAN: GK Nelson, D Klein, D Cann, D Kindel, D Martin, M Alberts (Valente, 65), M Nash, M Donatelli, M Morris (Marples, 76), F Sebrango (Jordan, 65), F Hansen (Marcina, 65)