BURNABY, B.C. - In the opening game of the first round of the 2007 USL First Division playoffs, the Portland Timbers fell 1-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on a late second-half goal by forward Jason Jordan Friday night at Swangard Stadium. The Whitecaps take a 1-0 lead in the two-game, total-goal series that will wrap up in Portland on Sunday at PGE Park at 5 p.m.
Jordan's goal in the 76th minute broke a two-game stalemate between the two teams as the last two regular-season matches ended in a 0-0 draw. The late goal was just the second goal given up by the Timbers backline in four matches against the Whitecaps this season. Vancouver outshot the Timbers 8-4, but Timbers goalkeer Josh Wicks made two diving saves to keep the game close.
With a 1-0-2 record against the Whitecaps during regular season play, the Timbers suffered their first loss of the season to Vancouver. Portland is 0-2-0 against the Whitecaps in playoff matches in Vancouver and is 1-11-2 at Swangard Stadium in regular-season play.
The Northwest rivals played a physical and defensive first half. In the 13th minute, Vancouver defender Adrian Cann left the match with a cut on his forehead which would later require stitches. Cann collided with Portland forward Bryan Jordan on a challenge for a ball in the air. Both Jordan and midfielder Andrew Gregor were issued first-half yellow cards for hard tackles.
The Whitecaps turned up the pressure late in the first half. In the 33rd minute, Timbers midfielder Lawrence Olum cleared a loose ball from the top of the box before Vancouver forward Josh Hansen could get off a strike. Five minutes later, Vancouver forward Eduardo Sebrango blistered a 12-yard shot from the right side of the box through Portland defender Cameron Knowles. Sebrango's shot at the far post was parried back into play with a diving attempt Wicks.
Gregor took Portland's best shot in the first half during stoppage time. Off a throw in by defender Leonard Griffin, Gregor met up with a pass back by forward Chris Bagley and sent a right-footed shot at the far upper corner. Vancouver goalkeeper Matt Nelson snagged the ball out of the air to keep the scored locked at 0-0 heading into halftime.
The match continued to go back and fourth throughout the second half. The Timbers had a scoring chance in the 55th minute on a 32-yard free kick by Gregor, but his ball into the box was deflected by the four-man wall and out of play over the endline.
In the 63rd minute, Knowles was called for a foul to set up a 23-yard free kick for by Vancouver midfielder Alfredo Valente's who's shot off a touch by Martin Nash sailed high and wide.
The Whitecaps broke the stalemate in the 76th minute. Portland failed to clear the ball from danger which would set up a slippery run by Vancouver midfielder Tony Donatelli down the right side of the box. Donatelli's cross deflected off Portland defender Scot Thompson and trickled towards the near goalpost. Jordan came flying through the box and got a touch on the ball to earn credit for his second goal of the season.
In the final minutes of the match, Wicks kept the game within reach by recording his second diving save of the night. Second-half sub Jason McLaughlin rocketed a shot across the box at the left post but Wicks was able to knock the ball down and gain control of the loose ball.
The Timbers will host the final leg of the first-round, two-game series against Vancouver on Sunday at PGE Park at 5 p.m. Sunday's match will be featured live on Fox Soccer Channel. Playoff tickets, starting at $12, are available at the PGE Park box office, area Ticketmaster outlets, online at www.ticketmaster.com or by phone at (503) 224-4400.
Notes: The Timbers played nearly 10 minutes with a man advantage early in the first half before Vancouver midfielder Alfredo Valente entered the match for Cann ... Portland head coach Gavin Wilkinson was unable to attend the match in Vancouver due to his green card application process ... Timbers forward David Hague missed the trip to Vancouver due to family matters back home in England.
Friday's playoff results: Montreal Impact defeated the Puerto Rico Islanders 3-2 in Montreal; Seattle Sounders defeated the Carolina RailHawks 2-0 in Carolina; Atlanta defeated Rochester 2-1 in Atlanta ... The second match of each series will be played on Sunday.
POR: GK Wicks, D Griffin, D S. Thompson, D J. Thompson, D Knowles, M Poltl, M Higgins, M Gregor, M Olum, F Jordan, F Bagley (M. Taylor, 77)
VAN: GK Nelson, D Klein, D Cann (Valente, 22) (Lyall, 82), D Kindel, D Martin, M Nash, M Clarke, M Roberto (Alberts, 76) , M Donatelli, F Hansen (Jordan, 65) , F Sebrango (McLaughlin, 71)
VAN: Jordan (Donatelli), 76