By JOSE M. ROMERO
PORTLAND, Ore. – John Spencer refused to look at Saturday night’s 1-1 draw between his Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps as a disappointing result.
Instead the Timbers coach labeled the match “some of the best football we’ve played all year.”
But make no mistake, Spencer was disappointed in at least one person or group of people – the officials. Like his players, he couldn’t imagine how Portland was not awarded a PK in the 65th minute when midfielder Kalif Alhassan went down in the box, the victim of what looked to be a tackle without going for the ball.
Referee Jorge Gonzalez elected not to blow his whistle.
The Timbers’ Kris Boyd scored about two minutes later, but Portland failed to seal the deal after the Whitecaps subbed in forwards Eric Hassli and Darren Mattocks in the 72ndand 83rd minutes, and Mattocks scored the tying goal in the 84th minute.
The Timbers (3-5-4) have three draws and a win in their last four matches, a sign of improvement in a team that lost four of its first six games this season. The Whitecaps picked a up a key single point, having had to go to Toronto for the Canadian championship second leg, which they lost on Wednesday.
Portland outshot the Whitecaps 14-6 for the match, but Vancouver played a much better second half. John Thorrington was one of the top performers for Vancouver, which has two points in two Cascadia matches against Seattle and Portland, both draws.
The start of the second half of the match was delayed about 20 minutes while a downpour with thunder and lightning passed over Jeld-Wen Field near downtown Portland. Players were given a short warmup and play resumed for the second half at 8:35 p.m. PT.
The Timbers looked poised to take the lead early in the second half. They peppered goalkeeper Joe Cannon, and one attack paid off when Jack Jewsbury lofted a half-cross, half-shot that Cannon tipped downward. Boyd, in search of his first goal since April 14, knocked in the rebound, and all except the good-sized contingent of Whitecaps fans in the sellout crowd of 20,438 went crazy.
But the Whitecaps (5-3-4) equalized, energized by their forward subs. Vancouver’s depth of options at the attacking positions really showed.
Hassli assisted on Mattocks’ first career MLS goal, a 15-yard shot with no defenders between him and Troy Perkins in the Portland net.
The Timbers’ Eric Brunner and the Whitecaps’ Sebastien Le Toux collided early in the match, and Brunner did not play in the second half due to concussion-like symptoms.
Here are the match highlights:
What did you think of the match? Feel like Portland was robbed of a win? Impressed with Mattocks delivering the late equalizer?
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