Portland Timbers extend their magic at BC Place in dynamic win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC

They challenge FC Dallas in the first leg at Providence Park on November 22 (7:30 pm ET, FS1 and FOX Deportes in USA; TSN2 in Canada).

VANCOUVER, BC – On Sunday night in the second leg of the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs Western Conference Semifinal, BC Place in downtown Vancouver was packed with near 28,000 fans. The Vancouver Whitecaps FC crowd, clad in white, were loud and ready for a memorable evening. The national anthems were sung and the home team let off fireworks in celebration.

They were the last fireworks the Whitecaps would enjoy all evening.

The Portland Timbers bossed the ‘Caps in a 2-0 win Sunday night and advanced 2-0 on aggregate to the Western Conference Finals later this month against FC Dallas (Nov. 22, 4:30pm PT, FS1). It was yet another game where Portland performed well in Vancouver: Portland is 4-1-2 all time in BC Place. Moreover, in a match that Vancouver was forced to chase after giving up a costly away goal, Portland held them to only two shots on goal in the game—five total across both legs—in earning back-to-back clean sheets.

When Timbers forward Fanendo Adi drifted back above the six-yard box to take a perfectly placed ball from midfielder Diego Valeri before rifling it top shelf for the team’s first goal in the 31st minute, Portland were able to control flow for the rest of the match.

“That [play] was just something we practice at training. When I saw Diego on the ball, I knew he was going to cut it back,” said Adi. “The ball came and I hit it well.”

The game opened at a fierce pace with end-to-end action from both sides. Though Vancouver forward Kekutah Manneh caused some danger for Portland with runs into the defensive third up until his injury substitution in the 26th minute, Portland was on the make from the go with Timbers head coach Caleb Porter’s plan to attack well in motion from the start.

“We went for the first goal, and we got it. It was something we worked on, in terms of getting in that left channel. It was a great goal,” said Porter. “Then that meant now that we could manage the game with the ball, which we did second half.”

The game marked the continuation of a historic run between the two teams with Portland having played Vancouver in 12 of its 36 all-time postseason matches since 1975. The Timbers are 5-5-2 against the Whitecaps in the postseason and have outscored Vancouver, 13-11.

Sunday’s latest chapter came in a modern day stretch that has Portland unbeaten in their last six games (regular season and playoffs) which also includes four straight road wins.

Though the Timbers made an injury substitution of their own in the 67th minute when stalwart left back Jorge Villafaña came out for Norberto Paparatto, they didn’t let up in attack and controlled 54 percent of the possession for the game. In fact, in between the 50th and the 55th minute, Portland had 94.9 percent possession.

At that point, as the saying goes, they were passing for fun.

The final dagger to the ‘Caps came in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time. With Vancouver throwing bodies forward, Timbers midfielder Diego Chara plucked a ball upfield and broke forward with Adi at his side. The two combined for a give-and-go, with Chara adding the finish. Even goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, back from illness for the match, sprinted the length of the field to celebrate with the mob of players congratulating Chara.

While the haze of the pregame fireworks still lingered throughout the stadium, it was now the Timbers Army who roared while the Vancouver crowd fell silent. Portland players massed in the corner of the field after the game to dance Tetris-style with their fans singing in delight.

It was a moment that defender Liam Ridgewell relished though he knows work still remains with FC Dallas and the Western Conference Finals on the horizon.

“It was fantastic,” said Ridgewell. “The goal at the end certainly put the nail in the coffin. Everyone celebrating together was fantastic. That’s what we’ve been about over the last two and half months. Riding the wave, everyone together. We’re looking to do that next game.”

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