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  • 1 Sep 2014

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Timbers wind up in another draw

The Portland Timbers were unable to finish the 2014 preseason on a high note Saturday night.

The Timbers went up 1-0 on a fluky goal by midfielder Will Johnson in the third minute.

Portland held on to the lead until the 79th minute, when the Vancouver Whitecaps were awarded a penalty and converted for a 1-1 draw.

“It was tough to give up a late goal on a PK,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. “But if you can’t win, it’s better not to lose.”

After finishing the preseason 2-2-2, the Timbers will turn their attention to the start of the MLS regular season. Portland opens at home on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union.

“You want to be in the best position you can be to start the season,” Porter said. “The guys are ready to start playing for points. We’re more healthy now than we were at the start of preseason.

"Hopefully we’re just scratching the surface. There’s some things we need to clean up, but this group is ready.”

It was another bitterly cold night at Providence Park, with the temperature 36 degrees. And the atmosphere was far closer to a regular-season match than the Timbers' previous two Rose City Invitational contests. After not much cheering and chanting during the previous two matches, the announced crowd of 13,799 spent the game singing the way it typically would during the regular season.

The Timbers also cranked the intensity up a notch. Portland started what will likely be its starting 11 and played them for most of the match.

The exception was midfielder Diego Valeri, who is still getting back to full fitness after undergoing surgery for a sports hernia during the offseason. Valeri was replaced by Kalif Alhassan in the 62nd minute.

Portland got on the board early on a goal that never should have happened.

After a Vancouver foul, Johnson lined up for a free kick on the left side, 28 yards from goal. Johnson sent a low ball that got past the Whitecaps' wall.

Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted was in position to make the save. He dove and got his hands and body on the ball. Somehow, though, the ball slipped out of his grasp and crossed the line, giving Portland a 1-0 lead.

The Whitecaps evened the score in the 79th minute.

Vancouver pushed the ball up the pitch and into the 18-yard box. With the ball near the end line, Timbers defender Jack Jewsbury went to make a tackle on a Vancouver attacker. Jewsbury clipped the Vancouver player, along with the ball, and was whistled for the foul.

“We got a little spread out there,” Jewsbury said. “They came at us 2 versus 1 at the end of the box. I got one-on-one on the outside. I thought it was 50-50. I might have gotten a little piece of him. I’ve got to do better than that in that situation.”

Whitecaps striker Sebastian Fernandez lined up for the penalty kick. He sent it low and to left. Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts guessed correctly, but just missed making the save.

Other than Johnson’s goal, the Timbers and the Whitecaps seemed evenly matched through the first half. Portland was able to control the ball for large periods of time and create dangerous opportunities. Vancouver did not control the ball as much as Portland, but when the Whitecaps did have the ball, they were able to move it into the final third and create their own dangerous chances.

The Timbers finished the half with five shots, two on goal. The Whitecaps had six shots in the half, but zero shots on frame.

The match continued to be more or less even in the second half. The pace of both sides slowed a little, and both the Timbers and the Whitecaps created fewer scoring opportunities than in the first half.

The Timbers finished the match with 15 shots and five balls on goal. Vancouver had 12 shots, but put only one shot no target.

The Timbers looked as though they were headed for a victory until Jewsbury’s foul in the box led to Fernandez’s penalty kick. It was the second time in the last three matches that the Timbers have given up a PK, the first coming against the San Jose Earthquakes last Sunday.

“You don’t usually get PKs called at home on you twice,” Porter said, laughing a little.