August 26th, 2012 by Kelly McLain
The Portland Timbers used a Darlington Nagbe goal in the first half and a Franck Songo’o strike in the second to top the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Saturday night at JELD-WEN Field. The playoffs may be out of reach for the Timbers, but the Cascadia Cup is well within their sights. Portland sit above Seattle and Vancouver on 7 points in the three-way battle of Pacific NW foes.
“I think the Cascadia Cup is something that we’ve got to focus on,” said interim manager Gavin Wilkinson. “It’s something that’s very important to us and it’s something that we will put a lot of effort into. The Cascadia Cup is extremely important to our fan base, it’s extremely important to the organization, and the players understand that.”
Nagbe tallied his 6th goal of the year (he’s now scored in three straight games—an MLS Timbers first) in the 41st minute courtesy of some slick passing from Bright Dike, Eric Alexander and captain Jack Jewsbury. The Timbers should have taken the much-deserved 1-0 lead into the locker room, but a questionable call from referee David Gantar gave Vancouver a corner just before intermission. Portland was unable to clear despite multiple opportunities and Kenny Miller eventually equalized for the visitors in first half stoppage time.
It didn’t take the Timbers long to get the lead back once play resumed, however. A Joe Cannon gaffe in the 55th minute allowed Franck Songo’o to record his first MLS goal on a curling free kick from 25 yards out.
Donovan Ricketts had 6 saves in his home debut after coming over from Montreal in a trade for Troy Perkins almost three weeks ago. Ricketts had a couple of noteworthy stops, but perhaps the save of the night came from defender Stephen Smith when he headed a ball off the line in 74th minute. “It was just a reaction thing,” Smith recalled after the game. “I turned around and the goalkeeper wasn’t on his line. I don’t know what happened before that, I just saw he wasn’t on his line, had to get into position to cover for him, and I was fortunate enough I was in the right position.”
Portland (6-13-6, 24 pts.) remain last in the Western Conference. Next up, a home-and-away series with Colorado. The Rapids come to the Rose City on Friday before the return leg the following Wednesday in Denver.