Caps lose 3-1 to Timbers on Aggregate

Vancouver Whitecaps 0 Portland Timbers 3 Portland wins quarterfinal series 3-1 on aggregate Sunday, September 16, 2007 PGE Park, Portland, OR - Attendance: 8,522 Vancouver Whitecaps reign as USL First Division champions came to an end on Sunday after a 3-0 away defeat to Portland Timbers. Despite leading the two-game, total-goal series 1-0 after Friday’s first leg in Vancouver, goals by former Whitecaps player Justin Thompson, Timbers captain Andrew Gregor, and substitute Jaime Ambriz gave Portland a 3-1 aggregate victory at PGE Park. They now advance to the USL-1 playoff semifinals, while the Whitecaps must now look ahead to the 2008 season. Whitecaps head coach Bob Lilley made two changes to the side that won Friday’s first game. Geordie Lyall - who turned 31 on Saturday - came into the side to partner Steve Klein at centre back, as Adrian Cann did not make the trip after sustaining a nasty head injury in the first leg against the Timbers. In attack, Alen Marcina replaced Josh Hansen as Eddy Sebrango’s strike partner, with Hansen not dressed for Sunday’s game. Timbers head coach Gavin Wilkinson, meanwhile, named an unchanged side to the one that started the 1-0 defeat at Swangard Stadium in Vancouver.
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With Timber Jim and the Timbers Army out in full force on an overcast day at PGE Park, it was the Whitecaps that looked comfortable keeping possession of the ball on the hard playing surface in the early stages, as a crowd of 8,522 looked on. It was the visitors that had the first chance of the game on three minutes, as Tony Donatelli forced Portland goalkeeper Josh Wicks into a fine save from his free-kick strike after captain Jeff Clarke was fouled near the edge of the Timbers box. Portland were then forced into an unexpected change on seven minutes, as Ambriz had to replace Chris Bagley in the Timbers attack after he re-aggravated a previous abdominal injury. Ambriz then caused shouts from the Portland fans for a penalty after going down in the Vancouver box, but referee Jair Marrufo waved away the appeals on nine minutes. It was not until the quarter hour mark that the Timbers had their first real threat at goal, as Shaun Higgins volleyed Gregor’s cross over Matt Nelson’s crossbar. At the other end, Sebrango failed to make a decent headed connection to Martin Nash ’s corner from the left on 23 minutes. In need of a goal to get back into the series, Portland delighted their home faithful by taking the lead on 27 minutes from a Gregor corner on the right. His set-piece found Bryan Jordan at the far post, where his header hit the crossbar before Thompson knocked home the rebound to make it 1-0. The goal prompted a spell of Timbers pressure on the Whitecaps goal, with Gregor striking over the crossbar on 33 minutes. To their credit, the Whitecaps remained positive and responded on 40 minutes when a Donatelli header from Nash’s corner forced Wicks to make an important save. It was Portland that ended the half in the ascendancy, with the home side kept out from scoring a second goal after Nelson and defender Steve Kindel made a vital save from another Timbers substitute in Luke Kreamalmeyer following a scramble for the ball in the Whitecaps box. Donatelli had the final chance of the half in the three minutes of stoppage time when he struck a shot from the edge of Portland’s box over the crossbar, as the tie was left well poised for the second half. Lilley was forced to make a change at centre back for the game’s restart, as Diaz Kambere replaced Lyall after the Victoria, BC, native had re-injured his right ankle just before the break. With the Timbers Army adding to a great playoff atmosphere in The City of Roses, it was Nash that tried his luck from the edge of Portland’s box, but his volleyed effort deflected wide of Wicks’ goal for a corner on 47 minutes. The energy and urgency of the contest was evident from both teams, and Sebrango had a chance to test Wicks on 63 minutes, but his byline shot went straight into the arms of the former Whitecaps keeper. On 66 minutes, Jason McLaughlin replaced Marcina in attack before Kindel nearly scored with a close-range shot that hit the side-netting after the left fullback took a neat pass from Sebrango in the Portland box. The pivotal moment of the tie came on 70 minutes, as the Timbers took a vital lead when Gregor’s strike from near the Whitecaps box took an unfortunate bounce in front of the diving Nelson and flew into the net for 2-0. “The ball hit the perfect spot of the turf,” Nelson said of the second goal. “It hit the seam of the third-base baseball line where they put the turf down and it took a terrible bounce over my shoulder. I’m not making excuses, as I should be making the save, but the surface there made it difficult to save that one.” With his side 2-1 down in the series, Lilley cut short Kambere’s day by replacing the young defender with the attack-minded Alfredo Valente on 73 minutes and the midfielder soon forced Wicks into a comfortable save for a corner. Even the introduction of Friday’s goalscorer Jason Jordan for Sebrango could not sway the series, as Portland sealed their place in the semifinals with a decisive third goal on 82 minutes. Gregor’s free kick forward found Justin Thompson at the far post before his header struck the crossbar and found Ambriz in front of goal to knock the ball home. “It’s disappointing for all of us,” a downcast Klein said after what could be his final game as a professional soccer player. “I thought we came out to score goals and not sit back. We tried to win this game outright, but a couple of bounces didn’t go our way. On the whole, I thought we played well and kept going, so I’m proud of that.” Needing two goals, the Whitecaps pressed Portland late on, but were unable to find a way past the impressive Wicks. “The second goal made it very difficult for us,” Lilley told reporters. “It’s disappointing because I thought we played well. We didn’t come here and sit back, we started the game well and they got that first goal on a dangerous ball played into our box. We knew it would be difficult to deal with their set-pieces, as Portland like to crash bodies into the opponent’s box. To miss Adrian and then have Geordie get injured, we were getting thinner and thinner at the back, and on the day, they were better than us. The referee called a good game, but he allowed it to be a physical game and I think that played in their favour.” The Timbers, meanwhile, celebrated their passage into the next round of the USL-1 playoffs with their adoring fans, with Wilkinson expressing his delight at going through. “We tried to bring a different level to our game tonight,” the former New Zealand international told “On Friday, it was an unfortunate goal to give up, but Vancouver are difficult to beat in Vancouver. I still think they are a very good team, but we took our chances tonight and that’s just part of the game. We looking forward to the challenge, as it’s new territory for us.” Portland will now face Atlanta Silverbacks in the semifinals after Jason Smith’s side knocked out last season’s finalists Rochester Raging Rhinos, while USL-1 regular-season champions Seattle Sounders will play Puerto Rico Islanders in the other semifinal after they disposed of Carolina RailHawks and Montreal Impact respectively. Statistical Information Scoring Summary: 27' - Portland 1-0 - Justin Thompson (Cameron Knowles) Portland delighted their home faithful by taking the lead on 27 minutes from a Gregor corner on the right. His set-piece found Bryan Jordan at the far post, where his header hit the crossbar before Thompson knocked home the rebound to make it 1-0. 70' - Portland 2-0 - Andrew Gregor (Shaun Higgins) Gregor fires a shot from 23-yards out, takes a bad bounce into Vancouver's goal. Gregor's marker gives the Timbers a two goal lead and a 2-1 lead on aggregate goals in the two-game series 82' - Portland 3-0 - Jaime Ambriz (Justin Thompson) Gregor’s free kick forward found Justin Thompson at the far post before his header struck the crossbar and found Ambriz in front of goal to knock the ball home Final Match Stats: Shots: Vancouver - 13 - Portland - 15 Saves: Vancouver - 4 - Portland - 4 Fouls: Vancouver - 7 - Portland - 11 Offsides: Vancouver - 1 - Portland - 0 Corners: Vancouver - 10 - Portland - 7 Referee: Jair Marrufo Cautions: Vancouver – Jason Jordan 90' Portland – Shaun Higgins 72' Vancouver Whitecaps: 1.Matt Nelson; 3.Steve Klein, 8.Steve Kindel, 13.Geordie Lyall (28.Diaz Kambere 45', 9.Alfredo Valente 73'), 24.Lyle Martin; 2.Jeff Clarke, 7.Martin Nash, 14.Tony Donatelli, 17. Zé Roberto (20.Dave Morris 80'); 12.Eduardo Sebrango (26.Jason Jordan 75'), 11.Alen Marcina (15.Jason McLaughlin 65') Vancouver's subs not used: 30.Richard Goddard, 6.Jay Alberts Portland Timbers 23.Josh Wicks; 5.Justin Thompson, 6.Cameron Knowles, 12.Leonard Griffin, 17.Scot Thompson; 7.Shaun Higgins, 8.Tom Poltl, 13.Andrew Gregor, 15.Lawrence Olum (10.Luke Kreamalmeyer 42'); 26.Bryan Jordan (20.Matt Taylor 71'), 33.Chris Bagley (22.Jaime Ambriz 6') Portland's subs not used: 1.Bayard Elfvin, 4.Lee Morrison, 9.Kiki Lara, 25.Daivd Hague USL First Division Playoff Schedule Two-Leg, Aggregate Score Series 5-Rochester Rhinos v 4-Atlanta Silverbacks Friday @ Atlanta 2 : 1 Rochester Sunday @ Rochester 1 : 1 Atlanta Atlanta wins aggregate series 3:2 8-Carolina RailHawks v 1-Seattle Sounders Friday @ Carolina 0 : 2 Seattle Sunday @ Seattle 1 : 0 Carolina Seattle wins aggregate series 3:0 6-Puerto Rico Islanders v 3-Montreal Impact Friday @ Montreal 3 : 2 Puerto Rico Sunday @ Puerto Rico 3 : 0 Montreal Puerto Rico wins aggregate series 5:3 7-Vancouver Whitecaps v 2-Portland Timbers Friday @ Vancouver 1 : 0 Portland Sunday @ Portland 3 : 0 Vancouver Portland wins aggregate series 3:1