Timbers return home Sunday for decisive playoff game

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps in the decisive second game of their USSF D-2 Pro League first-round playoff series Sunday at the University of Portland’s Merlo Field at 6 p.m. The Timbers enter the final leg of the two-game, aggregate-goal series down 2-0.

Tickets for the first-round playoff match are $15 and are available through local Ticketmaster locations, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000. A select number of tickets will be available for purchase on match day at the Merlo Field box office.

After a 2-0 loss to the Whitecaps in the opening match of the series Thursday in Burnaby, B.C., the Timbers return to Portland for their first home match since early September. The Timbers last home match was their regular-season home finale on Sept. 2; they ended the regular-season with four consecutive road games.

In an aggregate-goals series, the team that scores the most goals over the course of the series wins. The Timbers enter the decisive Game 2 of their first-round series with Vancouver down by two goals after Thursday’s loss, and will need to defeat the Whitecaps by three goals on Sunday to win the series or score at least two goals and keep the Whitecaps off the board in order to level the series and send it to overtime.

If at the end of Sunday’s match the aggregate score is tied, the series will head into overtime. Overtime is 30 minutes and will be played in its entirety over two, 15 minute periods; there is not golden goal in the postseason. If the two teams are still tied after overtime, the series will be decided by FIFA penalty kicks.

The Timbers finished the regular-season on a season-long, 10-match unbeaten streak and Thursday’s defeat marked the first loss by Portland since Aug. 4. Needing goals, the Timbers will look to USSF D-2 Pro League Golden Boot winner Ryan Pore, who scored a league-best 15 goals during the campaign, and rookie striker Bright Dike, who contributed 10 goals in 23 games in 2010.

On Sunday, Portland will also need to keep the Whitecaps from finding the back of the net and adding to their lead in the series. Backed by goalkeeper Steve Cronin, the Timbers backline finished the regular season ranked second in the league in fewest goals allowed (23). During the club’s recent unbeaten run, the Timbers recorded six shutouts and set a new modern-franchise record for consecutive minutes played without allowing a goal at 497.

The winner of the Portland-Vancouver series will advance to the semifinals and face the winner of the Rochester Rhinos-Puerto Rico Islanders series.

Sunday’s playoff match will be broadcast live on Sportsradio 95.5 The Game, with a live video webcast available online at www.portlandtimbers.com./live.