U-23s Eric Miller Vancouver May 23 2013 II
David Blair/Portland Timbers

Timbers U-23s clinch playoff berth with draw at Whitecaps FC U-23

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Portland Timbers U-23s clinched a playoff berth in the Premier Development League’s Northwest Division on Friday night with a 1-1 draw on the road against Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 at UBC Thunderbird Stadium. 

The Timbers U-23s (6-3-3, 21pts) clinched a playoff berth for the fourth time in their five PDL seasons, and sit in second place in the division. The top three teams in the Northwest Division advance to the postseason; Whitecaps FC U-23 (5-4-3, 18pts) currently ranks third.

The Timbers U-23s battled back to earn a point on the road after Whitecaps FC U-23 struck first in the 22nd minute on a goal by midfielder Colton O'Neill. The lead was short-lived, however, as the Timbers U-23s pulled level two minutes later when forward Zack Foxhoven volleyed home the equalizer in the 25th minute to help Portland snap a string of back-to-back losses.

O’Neill was on the receiving end of a pass across the goal mouth from the left side by midfielder Cam Hundal, and O’Neill tucked the ball away from a tight angle to lift Whitecaps FC U-23 to a 1-0 lead.

A scramble in front of goal led to the equalizer by the Timbers U-23s shortly after. Midfielder Will Vitalis popped the ball out to Foxhoven, who drilled a volley off the bounce past the diving effort of Vancouver goalkeeper Marco Carducci for his team-leading fourth goal of the season and second in three games.

Both teams had quality scoring chances in the second half to try and take all three points. Whitecaps FC U-23 midfielder Bobby Jhutty rattled the crossbar with a free kick in the 49th minute, while Timbers U-23s midfielder Eric Miller, in his first match back from U.S. U-20 National Team duty, had a header tipped over the crossbar by Carducci on the hour mark.

Portland was awarded a penalty kick in the 81st minute, but midfielder Zach Barnes placed his attempt from the spot off the crossbar. As part of a late flurry by the Timbers U-23s, midfielder John McFarlin had a shot hit off the post in the 89th minute.

The Timbers U-23s wrap up a two-game road trip to British Columbia on Saturday against Victoria Highlanders FC at Royal Athletic Park at 7:30 p.m. (Pacific); it is Portland’s final road match of the regular-season.

Notes: Midfielder Eric Miller played in his first match with the Timbers U-23s since returning from the FIFA U-20 World Cup with the U.S. U-20 National Team in Turkey. His last appearance for the Timbers U-23s was May 23 against Whitecaps FC U-23 at JELD-WEN Field … With Friday’s result between the Timbers U-23s and Whitecaps U-23, Victoria clinched the PDL Northwest Division title … The Timbers U-23s finished the regular-season series against Whitecaps FC U-23 unbeaten at 1-0-1.