Whitecaps allow own goal, see 10-game unbeaten streak end in 1-0 loss to Portland

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VANCOUVER — A bad bounce resulted in a second-half own goal as the Vancouver Whitecaps lost 1-0 to the Portland Timbers Friday night, snapping their 10-game undefeated streak and preventing them from moving into a Major League Soccer playoff spot.

The game’s only goal came in the 66th minute after Timbers forward Sebastian Blanco sent a pass to the side of the goal. Felipe Mora controlled the ball and fired a shot across the front of the net that went into the goal off the foot of Vancouver defender Ranko Veselinovic.

“Sometimes in football one bounce doesn’t go your way,” said Vancouver goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. “Another day you have the luck on your side.

“There are games we’ll put two or three goals in with the chances we had tonight. It’s football. We have to carry on.”

The Whitecaps threatened in the 78th minute when forward Deiber Caicedo fired a rocket of a shot that got by Portland goalie Steve Clark, but defender Claudio Bravo cleared the ball off the line, bringing a groan from the crowd of 8,570 at BC Place Stadium.

Vancouver interim coach Vanni Sartini thought his team deserved a better fate.

“We had more chances than them,” said Sartini, who lost for the first time in three games since taking over after Marc Dos Santos was fired Aug. 27. “We at least deserved a tie.

“We knew that Portland is a good team, they can create some problems.”

The Whitecaps (7-8-8) needed the win to leapfrog into a playoff spot. Instead, Vancouver remains eighth in the Western Conference with 29 points, one less than Real Salt Lake who hold the final playoff position.

Besides seeing their MLS franchise record 10-game unbeaten streak end, the Whitecaps also failed in their attempt to win an MLS franchise record fifth consecutive game.

Portland (10-10-3) won their third consecutive game and moved into fifth place in the West with 33 points.

“We knew Vancouver had so many things they were looking forward to in this game,” said Portland coach Giovanni Savarese. “We knew we had to be very good defensively.

“I feel the guys did a great job to defend. It wasn’t easy.”

The game followed a familiar script for the Whitecaps. After being outplayed in the first half, Vancouver controlled much of the final 45 minutes, outshooting Portland 8-3.

“It was a tough game for us,” said forward Cristian Dajome. “We had our chances, but we really couldn’t finish tonight.
“We have to look at the errors we are making at the back. We have to go back to the intensity we have been showing in previous games.”

Vancouver has scored just six half-half goals in 23 games this season, something Santini said “is an issue.”

The Whitecaps often lack confidence and don’t show enough aggression in the first half, he said.

“We need to have more awareness we have a good team,” said Santini. “We don’t have to be scared.”

The game counted for the Cascadia Cup, a series between Vancouver, Portland and Seattle. It was the first Cascadia game played at BC Place since May 10, 2019.

The match was just five minutes old when Portland had its first scoring chance. Mora had an open net but sent the ball high. The Timbers threatened again in the 25th minute when forward Dairon Asprilla directed a header that forced Crepeau to make a diving save.

The Whitecaps had a chance in the 38th minute when Russell Teibert put a shot into the box that midfielder Ryan Gauld redirected but Clark was there to scoop up the ball.

The Whitecaps had a difficult start to the season. Due to COVID-19 restrictions they played their first eight "home games'' in Sandy, Utah, before returning to Vancouver on Aug. 21. Before the loss to Portland, they had just one loss in 13 games.

Crepeau said the team remains confident.

“In the last few games, we are harder to beat then in the past,” he said. “If we keep going like this we will be in the playoffs at the end of the year.”

NOTES: The Whitecaps last MLS loss was 4-0 against Real Salt Lake on July 7. …. Vancouver’s next game is next Sunday in Colorado. … The Whitecaps last won four consecutive MLS games between March 14 and April 4, 2015. …The Timbers were playing their fifth straight road game.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 10, 2021

Jim Morris, The Canadian Press

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