Finally! Timbers get a post-Spencer victory

Portland handles Vancouver 2-1 in Cascadia Cup match-up
Aug. 25, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,
Portland players celebrate Darlington Nagbe's first-half goal Saturday night.
Photo by Cliff Pfenning,

The clouds of discontent that have covered the Portland Timbers franchise for the past six weeks finally cleared away Saturday night at the most opportune time and the team scored a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps before a sold-out crowd at Jeld-Wen Field.

Darlington Nagbe scored his third goal in three games and Franck Songo'o scored his first goal in an MLS game to snap an eight-game winless streak for Portland.

The victory is the first for the Timbers under interim coach Gavin Wilkinson, who added the role to his position as General Manager when the team fired coach John Spencer, July 9. The Timbers lost their next four games by a combined 12-3, including a 5-0 disaster at Dallas, July 21. But, recently, the team has become energized by a series of line-up adjustments that have included regualr time for forward Bright Dike, who replaced designated player Kris Boyd Saturday.

"It's a lot better than losing," Wilkinson said afterward. "We've been playing hard and have worked for this, so it's good to see we got the result we've been looking for."

Portland improved to 6-13-6, 24 points, with all of its wins coming on the home pitch. The team suits up again on Friday for a home game against Colorado, which sits one spot ahead in the Western Conference standings.

Saturday's win was even more important as it put the Timbers in the driver's seat within the Cascadia Cup. Portland is 2-0-1, seven points, with three games remaining in the fan-sponsored battle among Northwest rivals. The Timbers have three games remaining in the Cup, including a Sept. 15 home game with Seattle.

Nagbe's first-half goal continued a streak of positive results for the second-year player. His tally off assists from Jack Jewsbury and Eric Alexander in the 41st minute gave him six on the season, one behind Boyd.

After Vancouver tied the game in first-half extra time, Songo'o fired in a free kick at 55 minutes for the decisive goal.

Portland dominated much of the game, controlling possession for 53 percent of the 90 mintues and winning 57 percent of duels for the ball.

Vancouver dropped to 10-10-7, and remained at 37 points, which keeps it in the fifth and final playoff spot within the West.

The teams meet for the third and final time of the season in Vancouver, B.C., Oct. 20.