MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 3-0 Vancouver Whitecaps

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One game, 100 words (or less): A strong start for the visiting Whitecaps faded into a performance that mirrored last month’s failure. After seeing a sublime Diego Valeri volley put its hosts ahead near the half-hour mark, Vancouver gave up a second half brace to Fanendo Adi, allowing the Nigerian’s seventh and eighth goals of the season to put the match away. In what was supposed to be a heated derby between teams fighting for the West’s final playoff spot, Vancouver dropped another 3-0 result.


Portland: Valeri 28′, Adi 66′, 69′
Vancouver: None.

Three moments that mattered:

28′ – More Valeri magic – For two straight seasons, the Timbers’ best player has stepped up when his team needed it most: At the end of the season. Last year, it led to MVP talk, while this season, Diego Valeri may carry his team back into the playoffs.

Today’s opening goal was the latest part of that surge. Running into space behind striker Fanendo Adi, onto a cross from Jorge Villafana, Valeri made contact with the ball just before it returned to Providence Park’s turf, hitting his 14-yard volley under David Ousted’s cross-bar and into the Vancouver net.

After nearly half-an-hour with Vancouver the more dangerous side, Portland had the lead – the only one they’d need.

66′ – The next big chance – Vancouver never resumed their early match control, but for more than half-an-hour after Valeri’s opener, Vancouver was on even footing –  one moment away from equalizing. Just past the hour, however, Valeri caught Matias Laba on the ball and, after dribbling into the Whitecaps’ half, sent Fanendo Adi in alone on goal. As Ousted came off his line, Adi nearly lost possession with a heavy touch, but a last second toe poke sent the ball under the oncoming keeper and into the Vancouver goal.

69′- … set, match – After bursting onto the scene earlier this season with strong performances against Chivas USA and Real Salt Lake, Adi had quiet enough for fans  to question the value of their new Designated Player. With his second goal off the day, Adi likely changed the tone of that conversation, his second sliding under Oustead after Darlington Nagbe set him up in front of the left post.


Portland: Ricketts; Powell (Harrington 82′), Kah, Ridgewell, Villafana; Chara, Johnson, Valeri; Nagbe, Adi (Urruti 72′), Wallace (Fernandez 87′)
Vancouver: Ousted, Beitashour, O’Brien, Waston, Harvey; Laba, Teibert; Rosales (Manneh 65′), Morales, Fernandez (Mezquida 76′); Hurtado (Mattocks 76′)

Three lessons going forward:

1. The importance of Valeri – Last year Ryan Johnson was scoring goals, Darlington Nagbe was getting onto the scoresheet, while Rodney Wallace and Will Johnson had career years. This season, not so much, which makes Diego Valeri’s performance even more important. As good as the Argentine was last season, he’s been just as productive this year. Only now, he’s had to carry more of the load.

2. Vancouver makes Portland’s defense look good – The Timbers will be happy with a rare clean sheet, but there’s a devil in these details. Portland’s four shutouts this season have come against two clubs: Chivas USA and Vancouver. Caleb Porter’s defense may be improving, but we’ll need to see proof against a better attack.

3. Table no longer on Whitecaps side – If the Whitecaps’ spring success hadn’t kept them in the West’s top five, they’d be in crisis mode. Now, after giving Portland six points over the last three weeks, the standings don’t help. Not only are the Whitecaps’ a bad team, but they’re one that’s run out of time to figure things out. The pressure’s now on Carl Robinson.

Where this leaves them: Through 29 games, Portland has 39 points, two more than Vancouver. With today’s win, the Timbers also own the teams’ first three tiebreakers: Wins; goal difference; goals for.

Watch Live: New York Red Bulls vs. Seattle Sounders (Lineups)

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MLS has bill this one as a star-laden affair, for obvious reasons. Thierry Henry. Clint Dempsey. Tim Cahill. Obafemi Martins. Four of the league’s biggest names will be on hand when the Sounders visit Red Bull Arena this evening, though thanks to short weeks for both teams, three of those stars begin tonight’s game on the bench. Tonight, depth will be tested as the New York welcomes Seattle to New Jersey.

Coverage begins after the day’s first game, Vancouver’s visit to Portland (at roughly 7:30 p.m. ET). Like that Cascadia Derby, you can watch New York and Seattle via NBCSN or online, with full coverage available on NBC Sports Live Extra.

[ WATCH: Timbers host Whitecaps on Live Extra ]

Seattle enters tonight’s game having claimed the season’s first trophy, persevering through extra time mid-week to claim a 3-1 win over Philadelphia in the U.S Open Cup final. Back in MLS play, the Sounders will resume their pursuit for the season’s second honor, holding a three-point lead (and a game in hand) in the Supporters’ Shield race. With the LA Galaxy still within striking distance, the Sounders need a result in Harrison to guarantee they’ll finish the weekend alone on top.

Last year’s Supporters’ Shield winners, the Red Bulls, have different, more modest goals in mind. Currently fourth in the Eastern Conference, Mike Petke’s team is fighting to return to the postseason, with Columbus and Philadelphia only one point back. Failure to take advantage of Seattle’s weakened lineup (one without Dempsey or Martins) could leave New York in sixth place by night’s end.

As with any Red Bull game, the focal point will be Thierry Henry, who has had one of his most influential seasons since moving to Major League Soccer. While nine goals and 12 assists speak to some of that influence, the 21 goals scored by journeyman Bradley Wright-Phillips are better examples of the continued impact the 37-year-old can have on a game.

If Henry’s given time to exert that influence tonight, New York can get a much-needed boost in its quest to return to the playoffs. Else, Seattle will strengthen its place atop the league, increasing the chance the Sounders will claim their first Supporters’ Shield.


New York: Robles; Duvall, Olave, Sekagya, Miller; Sam, McCarty, Alexander; Oyongo; Henry, Wright-Phillips

Seattle: Frei; Anibaba, Marshall, Traore, Remick; Neagle, Rose, Alonso, Pappa; Cooper, Barrett


Diego Valeri’s volley against Vancouver is near-perfection (video)

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If he put it into one of the corners, this would be a perfectly executed goal, but it seems unfair to nit-pick anything about this Diego Valeri strike.

Twenty-eight minutes into today’s derby against Vancouver, Valeri runs onto Jorge Villafana’s cross in stride, meets the ball just before it finds the ground, and blasts his shot under David Ousted’s cross-bar. After nearly half-an-hour of Whitecaps’ control, one moment of brilliance from Portland’s best put the home side in front.

With some goals it’s the power. Others it’s the distance. With this, it’s the grace. Valeri makes everything about this technique look easy, even though we almost never see this shot end up in the top of the goal. But just as easily as he ran onto the cross, Valeri steered away from goal, calmly celebrating as if a highlight reel goal was the possible outcome.

At intermission at Providence Park, the Timbers have a 1-0 lead, with the game available on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra.

Post-match: Redknapp lauds QPR character after draw with Stoke City

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At some point, Queens Park Rangers will have to get three points out of games like today’s if they’re going to stay up, but as a new defense settles in to a team that’s reacquainting itself with life in the Premier League, QPR manager Harry Redknapp found some silver linings after today’s 2-2 draw against visiting Stoke City.

“It was difficult. I thought we showed great character to keep going,” Redknapp explained after today’s match at Loftus Road.

QPR went down twice, once on each side of halftime, before responses from Steven Caulker and Niko Kranjcar, the latter coming for a free kick buried two minutes before time.

The result gave the Hoops four points from five rounds.


“It’s a vital point,” Redknapp said. “Every point is vital for us in this division. When you’re 2-1 down, it’s a great point.”

Matched up against the man he replaced on QPR’s sidelines, Redknapp may have expected his team’s second victory of the season. Instead, he was left lauding the performance of Mark Hughes’ Potters.

“They’re not an easy team to go behind to,” Redknapp conceded.  “They’re very solid. You can see why they haven’t gotten beat away from home.”

Redknapp’s full post-match comments can be seen above.

Watch Live: Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (Lineups)

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The fight for fifth in the West will take place in Cascadia, with today’s meeting between Portland and Vancouver primed to give one rival an edge on the conference’s final playoff spot. With a one-point lead on their northwest adversaries, the Whitecaps enter today’s game in line for a postseason return, but Portland’s 3-0 win on Aug. 30 in Vancouver suggests the home side will have the advantage in the teams’ final meeting of the season.

Coverage from Providence Park starts on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, with New York and Seattle rounding out our MLS doubleheader tonight at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.

[ WATCH: Timbers host Whitecaps on Live Extra ]

Three weeks ago, Portland temporarily wrestled fifth away from the struggling Whitecaps, with goals from Alvas Powell, Maxi Urruti, and Rodney Wallace making amends for the June victory Vancouver earned in Oregon. Though the Timbers have since given fifth back to their rivals, a repeat of last months’ result will put Caleb Porter’s team in position for a second straight postseason berth.

With only six matches left in the season (and a six-pointer in front of them), now’s the time for Vancouver to change course. Since defeating Seattle 1-0 at home in July, the Whitecaps are 2-3-6, with their only wins coming at home against Sporting Kansas City and San Jose. Having since acquired Mauro Rosales from Chivas USA, Vancouver has changed its look, featuring the former Sounder as a focal point last week against Dallas. The extent to which Carl Robinson can fit him next to Pedro Morales may determine the Whitecaps’ playoff future.

For the Timbers, so much comes down to the play of playmaking star Diego Valeri, but in Darlington Nagbe and Rodney Wallace, the Timbers have threats across the middle of the park, often leading to Fanendo Adi and Urruti’s names on the scoresheet. With the team’s leaky defense, those talents are often left trying to outscore the opposition, but against a Whitecaps side Portland shutout in Vancouver, the defense will be looking to post its fourth clean sheet of the season


Portland: Ricketts; Powell, Kah, Ridgewell, Villafana; Chara, Johnson, Valeri; Nagbe, Adi, Wallace

Vancouver: Oustead; Beitashour, O’Brien, Waston, Harvey; Rosales, Laba, Morales, Teibert; Fernandez, Hurtado