VANCOUVER -- The Portland Timbers took advantage of several Vancouver Whitecaps defensive blunders for a 3-0 Major League Soccer victory Saturday night which moved them into the final playoff spot in the tight Western Conference.
Alvas Powell, Maximiliano Urruti and Rodney Wallace all scored second half goals for the Timbers. The win leaped-frogged Portland over Vancouver into fifth spot.
It was an embarrassing home loss for a Whitecaps team struggling to reach the playoffs. Vancouver has just two wins in their last 11 games (2-4-5). During that span the Whitecaps have managed just eight goals and has been scoreless five times, including four times in the last five games.
The win gives Portland 34 points, one more than the Whitecaps, from an 8-8-10 record. Vancouver slips to sixth place with 33 points (7-6-12).
A Whitecaps defensive breakdown allowed Powell to give Portland the lead in the 51st minute off a pretty pass from Diego Valeri. The Argentine midfielder threaded a ball into the box where an unmarked Powell headed it past the outstretched hands of Whitecaps' goalkeeper David Ousted.
It was Powell's first goal of the season while Valeri picked up his team-leading ninth assist.
Urruti, a second-half substitute, delivered the dagger in the 75th minute. The big forward had all the time in the world to take a pass from Michael Harrington and blast a shot that hit the crossbar and fell into the net behind Ousted. The Whitecaps goalkeeper scrambled to his feet and began yelling at his defence.
Wallace made it 3-0 in the 79th minute after slipping behind the Whitecaps' defence and converting a pass from Darlington Nagbe.
The close Western Conference playoff battle helped produce a great atmosphere at BC Place Stadium for the match between the Cascadia rivals. Among the noisy, sellout crowd of 21,000 was a contingent of 500 Portland fans who made their presence known by chanting and waving flags.
The teams were scoreless after the first half.
Vancouver controlled much of the play, moving the ball with authority. A solid Timbers defence forced the Whitecaps to take their shots from the perimeter which allowed Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to track the ball.
One of the Whitecaps best scoring chances came in the fifth minute. Newcomer Mauro Rosales sent a pretty crossing pass into the box which charging midfielder Pedro Morales headed over the crossbar.
Darren Mattocks, a second-half substitute, came close to tying the match in the 66th minute. Midfielder Russell Teibert feathered a pass behind the Portland defence. An open Mattocks had trouble controlling the ball then fired a shot that Ricketts stopped.
Both Rosales, obtained in a trade from Chivas USA, and Costa Rican centre back Kendall Watson, an international transfer, made their home debuts for the Whitecaps.
NOTES: The Whitecaps play in Portland Sept. 20.
à Marie Hui, the Burnaby, B.C. native who sings the national anthems at Whitecaps games, has been booked to sing the anthems at the Seattle Seahawks' Sept. 21 NFL game against Denver. à Vancouver played without centre back Johnny Leveron, who was given a red card in a 2-0 loss to L.A. last weekend.