PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers grabbed control of the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot – and grabbed it with authority – after a 3-0 win Saturday afternoon over the Vancouver Whitecaps at a sunbaked but raucous Providence Park.
The Timbers’ Argentine wizard Diego Valeri opened the scoring with a brilliant, first half volley and then assisted on the first of two second half goals by Fanendo Adi to wrap up the big victory, Portland’s second consecutive 3-0 decision over their northernmost Cascadia rivals.
With the win, which also gave Portland the series victory after suffering a 4-3 loss in their first meeting back in June, the Timbers switch places with the Whitecaps in the Western Conference standings and now own a two-point lead for the West's fifth and final playoff spot with five games remaining for both teams.
Despite Portland’s dominance for most of the game, Vancouver controlled the early action and set the tone when Sebastian Fernandez got free in the middle of the field and fired just wide from just outside the area in the first minute.
That would prove to be Vancouver’s best chance of the game as Portland wrested more and more control as the match progressed and held the Whitecaps to just nine shots for the game.
The Timbers first found the back of the net through Valeri’s mastery in the 28th minute.
Off a quick restart, Valeri picked a perfect Jorge Villafana cross right out of the air directly in front of the goal just before it hit turf, sending his left-footed volley top shelf for his ninth goal of the season.
Valeri then unlocked Adi with his Timbers MLS-era record 14th assist for a 66th-minute goal, feeding the big Nigerian striker for a 1v1 with Vancouver ‘keeper David Ousted. Adi won the battle and sent his shot rolling just inside the left post.
Adi and Darlingon Nagbe teamed up on a Timbers break for the third and final goal on a finish between the Ousted’s legs.
Vancouver would test Donovan Ricketts late, but the Portland ‘keeper had no problem with Pedro Morales’ 83rd-minute shot from the top of the area. The shutout was Portland’s first since their 3-0 victory over Vancouver on Aug. 30 at BC Place; the Timbers allowed five goals in their last two MLS games prior to Saturday, both draws.
Portland return to action Tuesday for a CONCACAF Champions League home match against Alpha United before hitting the road for their next league match Saturday against Toronto FC.
Portland Timbers (9-8-12, 39pts) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8-8-13, 37pts)
Sept. 20, 2014 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 0 0 0
Portland Timbers 1 2 3
POR: Valeri (Villafaña), 28
POR: Adi (Valeri), 66
POR: Adi (Nagbe), 69
VAN: Laba (Caution), 16
VAN: Waston (Caution), 24
POR: Kah (Caution), 24
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Ricketts, D Powell (Harrington, 82), D Kah, D Ridgewell, D Villafaña, M Chara, M Valeri, M Johnson ©, F Nagbe, F Adi (Urruti, 72), F Wallace (Fernández, 87)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Weber, D Jewsbury, D Paparatto, M Zemanski
TOTAL SHOTS: 10 (Adi, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Adi, Valeri, 2); FOULS: 10 (Wallace, 3); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 1; SAVES: 4
VAN: GK Ousted, D Waston, D Harvey, D O’Brien, D Beitashour, M Laba, M Morales, M Rosales (Manneh), M Teibert, F Hurtado (Mattocks, 76), F Fernández (Mezquida, 76)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Tornaghi, D Adekugbe, D Sampson, M Ballouchy
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Fernández, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Four players tied, 1); FOULS: 16 (O’Brien, 4); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 3
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Assistant Referees: Peter Balciunas, Felisha Mariscal
4th Official: Juan Guzman
Time of Game: 1:51
Weather: Sunny, 88 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com