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OCTOBER 7, 2010|
Whitecaps score early in Burnaby, carry 2-0 lead to Portland for Sunday's second leg
The Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps, familiar foes through their NASL and USL days, quite appropriately ended up paired off for the 2010 playoffs, which began Thursday night in Burnaby, British Columbia. But an early Whitecaps goal by Gershon Koffie off a Timbers mistake set the tone, and a penalty kick converted by Vancouver's Martin Nash was the only scoring in a 2-0 win which sets the tone for a difficult comeback for the Timbers on Sunday at the University of Portland's Merlo Field.
Off the opening kickoff, the Timbers gave away a corner kick just seconds into the match. And they would pay for their defensive lapse off the ensuing corner kick, which made it through to Gershon Koffie, whose shot hit the crossbar, but rebounded down and over the line by a few yards, and right out of the gate, the Whitecaps had a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, the Whitecaps had another good chance when Philippe Davies had an open look near the corner of the box, but his shot was smothered by Timbers goalkeeper Steve Cronin.
In the 12h minute, a free kick by Vancouver's Davies was saved by Cronin, but after the rebound, a foul was called in the box on Portland's Kalif Alhassan, and the center referee pointed to the spot. Martin Nash took the penalty, and Cronin deflected the shot wide, but not quite wide enough as it hit off the post and ricoched in, and the Whitecaps lead was 2-0.
The Timbers would have their first good look in the 20th minute, when James Marcelin decided to take a chance from 30 yards out, which slipped a yard or two wide right. Three minutes later, the Timbers had a good free kick chance 25 yards out from goal, but Ryan Pore's curling shot was just wide right. Bright Dike made a good run through the Whitecaps defense to get an open look in the 35th minute, but the shot was well wide left.
Five minutes before the half, the Whitecaps would come within inches of a three goal lead when Cody Arnoux played a nice ball to Terry Dunfield, whose blast from 18 yards out hit off the right post and was cleared by the Timbers defense. There was a late appeal for a penalty kick for the Whitecaps that the referee waved off, and Vancouver would lead 2-0 at the half.
Three minutes into the second half, Nash would produce another good scoring chance for the home side when his curling shot from just outside the box was pushed past the post by Cronin. In the 53rd minute, the Timbers had a dangerous free kick from the top of the penalty circle, but Rodrigo Lopez's kick was just over the crossbar.
The Whitecaps nearly took advantage of Cronin being out of position in the 57th minute when Koffie surprised the Timbers goalkeeper with a shot from 45 yards out slipped only a yard wide left. In the 62nd minute, the Whitecaps nearly did the Timbers' work for them when a cross by Alhassan was headed towards goal by Whitecaps defender Willis Forko forced a last-second tip over the crossbar by goalkeeper Jay Nolly. One minute later, Portland's Dike fought off three defenders to get a close-in shot that was stopped by a kick save by Nolly.
In the 67th minute, the Timbers had another good chance when Pore made a run into the box, and Portland appealed for a penalty kick when he was knocked down in the box by a sliding tackle, but the center referee waved play on.
In the 71st minute, the Timbers had another good chance when Whitecaps defender Wes Knight fell down while a pass was headed for Pore, and the Timbers midfielder cut back and had his shot blocked wide by a Vancouver defender. Knight would have to leave the match for his injury.
In the 80th minute, the Whitecaps missed on an easy chance to open up a three goal lead when Davide Chiumiento played the ball to a wide open Dunfield, who had an open goal but his attempt to softly play the ball into the open net hit off the right post, and Cronin saved his rebound attempt.
In the 84th minute, the Timbers were unfortunate not to pull a goal back when after a Lopez free kick near the corner, the ball fell to the foot of Kevin Goldthwaite, whose blast from only a few yards out hit Nolly in the face to keep the ball out of the net.
In stoppage time, Vancouver's Chiumiento had a breakaway into the Timbers box and a one-on-one with Cronin, but blasted a shot wide right. It would be the last scoring chance and the Whitecaps would hold a 2-0 lead going into the second leg Sunday in Portland.
Both Portland's Steve Cronin and Vancouver's Jay Nolly recorded four saves on the night.