By Bruce Constantineau
League-leading scorer Ryan Pore ended the Vancouver Whitecaps undefeated season Thursday when he headed home a long cross late in the game to beat Vancouver keeper Jay Nolly and seal a 2-1 victory for the Portland Timbers at PGE Park in Portland.
It was the Portland midfielder's second goal of the game and came when his team was down to 10 men after Timbers defender Mamadou Danso was sent off in the 85th minute after receiving his second yellow card.
Pore - who leads all USSF D-2 scorers with six goals and one assist in four games - appeared to catch Caps defender Chris Williams by surprise on the winning marker when he outfought him to get his head on the cross from the right flank.
Whitecaps head coach Teitur Thordarson wasn't pleased with the goal but liked his team's overall performance and felt the Caps deserved a better result.
"I think it was a great game and we definitely didn't deserve to lose," he said in a telephone interview from Portland. "We had our chances but unfortunately we didn't score more than once."
The Caps had lots of chances in the entertaining match between the two Major League Soccer-bound clubs. The game began in freewheeling style and Vancouver almost struck early when unmarked Whitecaps defender Zurab Tsiskaridze headed a Martin Nash corner kick off the Timbers post in the second minute.
Pore opened the scoring for Portland five minutes later when he sent a curling 25-yard free kick over the Caps wall and past an outstretched Nolly for the first goal given up by Vancouver this year.
But Whitecaps defender Nelson Akwari evened the score in the 11th minute when he headed a Nash corner just inside the far post and past Timbers keeper Steve Cronin.
The Whitecaps dictated much of the first-half play but the back line that helped the team to three clean sheets in the first three games this season looked shaky at times in the first 45 minutes. The Timbers' defending looked equally suspect on several Caps corners.
The second half featured a lot of end-to-end play and Nolly looked outstanding in pushing aside a 20-yard strike from Pore that was labeled for the top corner in the 57th minute.
Caps midfielder Jonny Steele debuted for his new team in the second half and had an immediate impact, drawing a free kick when he was pulled down just outside the Portland box. Nash hit the outside of the Timbers post on the ensuing kick.
Cronin preserved the win late in the match with a terrific save off Caps midfielder Justin Moose, tipping a long strike just over the bar.
The loss brings the Whitecaps record to 2-1-1 this year while Portland stays undefeated and moves to 3-0-1.
SIDE KICKS: Caps midfielder Ricardo Sanchez, a USL-1 all-star with Minnesota last year, was a healthy scratch and did not travel to Portland . . . the Whitecaps have just one win in 12 games played in Portland since 2005.
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