Timbers defeat Whitecaps 2-1 on winner by Danso

BURNABY, B.C. – With a one-man advantage, the Portland Timbers received a game-winning goal from defender Mamadou Danso in the second half to claim a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Thursday before 5,387 at Swangard Stadium. The win was the Timbers’ first in Vancouver since 2004.

After going down a goal early in the second half, the Timbers were able to pull even in the 65th minute when midfielder Ryan Pore was taken down just inside the box by Whitecaps defender Greg Janicki. Pore was able to convert his attempt from the spot and Janicki was ejected from the match. With an extra man, Danso found the back of the net during a scramble inside the box to secure the victory.

Entering the match, Portland had recorded just one win over the Whitecaps in 20 games in Vancouver since 2001. The Timbers ended their 11-game winless stretch in Vancouver with the victory Thursday and secured the fan-based Cascadia Cup for a second consecutive season.

Pore scored his league-leading 11th goal of the season, Danso tallied his first on the campaign and goalkeeper Steve Cronin recorded a key save down the stretch to help the Timbers (7-5-5, 26pts) extend their unbeaten streak to five games and hand the Whitecaps their first loss of the season at home.

Forward Nizar Khalfan scored his second goal, midfielder Philippe Davies logged his first point of the season with an assist and goalkeeper Jay Nolly turned in four saves for the Whitecaps (7-3-8, 29pts), who had a nine-game unbeaten streak come to an end. Khalfan’s tally in the second half snapped the Timbers’ run of four consecutive shutouts.

Both the Timbers and Whitecaps entered Thursday’s contest on extended unbeaten streaks and it produced another hard-fought battle between the two Northwest rivals.

Khalfan broke the deadlock in the 51st minute, finishing off a long run down the right side by Davies. From the midfield line, Davies charged up field and 15 yards from the end line found Khalfan on a run at the near post. Davies slipped in a pass and Khalfan one-timed a shot into the far bottom of the goal, ending the Timbers’ run of consecutive minutes played without allowing a goal at 469 – a new modern-franchise record for Portland.

The Timbers leveled the score line in the 66th minute. Pore received a pass from midfielder Rodrigo Lopez and got in behind Janicki on a breakaway up the middle of the park. He was taken down by the defender just inside the box to set up a penalty kick. After Janicki was shown a red card, Pore knocked his shot from the penalty spot under a diving Nolly to pull the Timbers even at 1-1.

With an extra man, the Timbers found the go-ahead goal in the 72nd minute following a free kick by Pore. His ball in created a scramble inside the box as Nolly was unable to clear it away. The ball landed at the feet of Danso and he crushed a shot into an open right side of the goal to lift Portland to a 2-1 lead.

The match opened quickly with the two sides trading chances early. Davies put a follow up shot off a corner kick wide of the frame in the second minute. Then in the fifth minute, Portland’s George Josten earned a one-on-one with Nolly eight yards out. He tried to slip a shot by him, but defender Wes Knight cleared Josten’s rolling shot before it crossed the goal line.

As the match settled in, it was set pieces that set up a majority of the chances in the first half; the two clubs combined for nine corner kick attempts in the opening stanza. Portland had a chance to take the lead in the 26th minute off a corner kick by midfielder Alex Nimo. His curling ball from the left side found Josten at the top of the six. His header hit the underside of the cross bar, but a foul called on teammate Bright Dike waived off the effort.

Josten had another opportunity to put the Timbers on the board in the 29th minute. A re-start from the left side was re-directed by Dike into the area and found Josten on a run. Josten poked a shot just wide of the left post.

The Whitecaps had six corner kicks in the first half and each provided a dangerous opportunity for the home side. In the 41st minute, midfielder Luca Bellisomo connected on the end of a corner kick from the right side by Martin Nash and zipped a header just over the bar; Vancouver owned a 7-3 edge in shots at the break.

The momentum in the match shifted in the second half as the Timbers gained an extra man, and Portland took advantage of it to find the late game-winner. But the Whitecaps fought until the end.

In the 78th minute, it was a corner kick by Nash that nearly aided a late Whitecaps equalizer. From the right side, Nash found defender Nelson Akwari on the back side. Akwari headed a pass to Khalfan 10 yards out, who then rocketed a shot on frame. Cronin got his right hand to the ball as he dove to the ground to keep it out of the net and Timbers forward Bright Dike cleared the ball high and away to keep the one-goal advantage.

The Timbers continue their four-game road stretch on Wednesday, July 28, against AC St. Louis at 5:10 p.m. (Pacific).

Notes: The Timbers’ last win in Vancouver was May 23, 2004. Portland is now 2-14-2 in regular-season matches in Vancouver … Defender Ross Smith left the match with an injury to his head, following collision with Whitecaps midfielder Blake Wagner in the 32nd minute … The contest against the Whitecaps was head coach Gavin Wilkinson’s 105th regular-season match as the head coach of the Timbers ... The Cascadia Cup is a fan-based derby played between the Timbers and Whitecaps. The team with the best head-to-head record between the rivals takes home the annual trophy; the Timbers are 2-0-1 against the Whitecaps in 2010.

Lineups:
POR: GK Cronin, D Purdy, D Smith (Keel, 34), D Danso, D Joy (Kirk, 80), M Nimo, M McManus (Marcelin, 57), M Gaudet (Suzuki, 67), M Pore, F Dike, F Josten (Lopez, 57)

VAN: GK Jolly, D Tsiskaridze (Hirano, 90), D Akwari, D Janicki, D Knight, M Wagner (Elliot, 73), M Bellisomo, M Nash, M Davies (Gage, 70), F Khalfan, F Stewart (Moose, 80)

Scoring Summary:

VAN: Khalfan (Davies), 51
POR: Pore (penalty kick), 66
POR: Danso, 72