PORTLAND, Ore. - Jordan Harvey headed in a second-half equalizing goal and the Vancouver Whitecaps managed a 1-1 draw against the Portland Timbers Saturday night at JELD-WEN Field.
In addition to Cascadia Cup implications — Vancouver remains on top with 5 points through 4 games — the derby match also had an impact on the MLS' Western Conference standings. With 12 games to play in the regular season, the Whitecaps remain in the fifth and final playoff spot on 33 points — just one point clear of FC Dallas.
The derby match saw a fairly bland first half, punctuated primarily by questionable tackles and yellow cards. A total of 6 were handed out by referee Radu Petrescu.
"It's Portland, it's a rivalry, and I think it was always going to be that way," said Matt Watson, who replaced an injured Brad Rusin in the 18th minute. "There are always going to be a few challenges that are going to be a little bit heavy, but I think that's part of the game."
The second period played itself out in much more appealing fashion with the two squads combining for 14 shots, resulting in a goal for each.
Portland (8-3-11) struck first in the 49th minute when forward Ryan Johnson headed in a Diego Valeri cross. The Timbers took the ball off Daigo Kobayashi deep in their own end and quickly penetrated down field where Valeri was given too much time and space to pick out his target in the box.
"We lost a runner in the box, which was disappointing," said Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie. "We were a little open on the counter attack."
The home side pressed for another goal, but Vancouver (9-7-6) held their ground and eventually found the equalizer in the 69th minute when Harvey got on the end of a Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo corner.
"(Rodney) Wallace was kind of all over me the whole game during set pieces," Harvey said. "I just tried to stay back so he couldn't get ahold of me and then darted near post and Camilo sent in a perfect ball. I just tried to get my head on it."
The goal marked the first time the Whitecaps have scored from a corner since Jay DeMerit accomplished the feat in March 2012.
Rennie made four changes to the side that dropped a 1-0 result to Philadelphia last week, including the debut of recently signed Danish goalkeeper David Ousted and a second start for 18-year-old Kekuta Manneh. Carlyle Mitchell filled in at centre back as Brad Rusin was pushed forward to a holding midfield position, and Kobayashi was reinserted into the starting lineup for the first time in a month.
The come-from-behind result puts an end to a two-game losing streak for the Caps, and according to Rennie, injects some added confidence into the squad.
"I know that we've got a lot of character," Rennie said. "Tonight we were missing seven players that would normally start so we were very depleted, but our players didn't use that as an excuse. They dug in and they played well.
"I think we're very confident. We're just a few points off first place and we're playing well. We've got games in hand over some of the teams above us, and I think confidence is high."