Timbers season comes to a close, fall to Vancouver

The Timbers and Whitecaps square off in the decisive game of their semifinal series tonight at PGE Park at 4 p.m., presented by Spirit Mountain Casino. Tonight's match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel or catch a live broadcast on 95.5 The Game. Follow updates on Twitter.

Click here for tonight's match notes.

Tonight's starters:
POR: GK Cronin, D Hayes, D Keel, D Thompson, D Danso, M Claesson, M Farber, M McManus, M Pore, F Keita, F Josten

VAN: GK Nolly, D Martin, D Bellisomo, D Pejic, D Hirano, M Knight, M Pozniak, M Nash, M Toure, F Haber, F Gbeke

Match Preview:
Down by a goal, the top-seeded Portland Timbers return home to conclude their two-match, aggregate-goal semifinal series against Northwest rival the Vancouver Whitecaps tonight at PGE Park. The series winner will advance to USL First Division finals against the winner of the Montreal-Puerto Rico series.

To advance to its first USL First Division championship series, Portland must out-score the Whitecaps by two goals, and can tie the series with a single goal. If the series is tied at the end of regulation tonight, it will continue in overtime.

The Whitecaps took a 2-1 lead in series opener Thursday in Vancouver. Timbers midfielder Ryan Pore slotted home a penalty kick attempt in the 44th minute to level the score at 1-1. Defender Lyle Martin was called for a hand ball in the box to set up the chance from the spot.

Thursday's contest was the first time all season that the Timbers had allowed multiple goals on the road, and was just the team's second road loss of the campaign - the other was also in Vancouver on April 25.

The Timbers and Whitecaps have met twice previously in the postseason - 2002 and 2007. In their last playoff matchup in 2007, the Timbers rallied back from a one-goal deficit following the first leg with a 3-0 victory in the second leg at PGE Park to capture a 3-1 aggregate win in the first round; the win propelled Portland into its first semifinals appearance. 

During the regular season, the Timbers were 2-1-0 against the Whitecaps and as a result won the Cascadia Cup - a fan-based, head-to-head derby between the Northwest rivals. Portland won both matchups this season at PGE Park and held Vancouver scoreless in those matches, including a 2-0 win on May 30.

Since 2001, the Timbers are 8-4-6 at home against the Whitecaps in regular season matches. Overall, Portland is 9-18-8 against Vancouver since joining the USL First Division. 

The Timbers ended the 2009 regular season with a league-high 45 goals and tied for the league-lead in fewest goals allowed (19). They boasted one of the best home records in the USL First Division with a 10-3-2 mark, out-scoring opponents 27-10. Portland is the top seed in the playoffs after capturing the 2009 Commissioner's Cup as the regular-season champion.

Portland has advanced to the postseason for the sixth time in nine USL First Division seasons, and has reached the semifinals for the second time in three seasons. The Timbers last trip to the semifinal was in 2007, taking the Atlanta Silverbacks to penalty kicks before falling in the series. 

New this season, the USL First Division Championship will also be a two-game, aggregate-goal series. The championship series will take place over the next two weekends.