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Whitecaps corner a 1-1 tie with Timbers

The Cascadia Cup is a fan-created competition. The key word in that sentence is not fan, though. The key word is competition. Whenever the Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders face one another, more than three points are on the line.

Saturday night’s match between the Timbers and the Whitecaps did not fail to live up to the billing as one of the most intense derbies in MLS. The announced sellout crowd of 20,674 was loud, the match was rough (five yellow cards) and the style was fast-paced and exciting.

When the dust had settled, the Timbers and Whitecaps had fought to a 1-1 draw.

After a scoreless first half, Portland went up 1-0 on a Ryan Johnson header in the 49th minute. Vancouver found the equalizer, though, when defender Jordan Harvey sent in a header of his own in the 70th minute.

“Between two very good teams, this is how the games are: it’s a tight, it’s a battle, it’s chippy,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. "We’re disappointed in the draw. With this group of guys, we expect to win every game, and when we don’t win, we’re not pleased.

"From a mentality standpoint, an energy standpoint, it was one of our best games of the year.”

The Timbers (0-3-0, 3 points) are still third in the Cascadia Cup standings. Vancouver (1-2-2, 5 points) moved into first place. Seattle (1-1-1, 4 points) is second.

The Timbers have three matches left in Cascadia Cup play. Portland is at the Sounders on Aug. 25 and at home versus Seattle on Oct. 13. The Timbers play the Whitecaps on the road Oct. 6. The Sounders and the Whitecaps will play one more time, in Seattle on Oct. 9.

Portland (8-3-11, 35 points) is third in the tight MLS Western Conference.

“I’m more concerned about making the playoffs,” midfielder Will Johnson said. “The Cascadia Cup is a nice bonus if we can get the points. We’re not mathematically out of it, and until we are, our goal is to win it.”

Saturday's match between Portland and Vancouver (9-7-6, 33 points) began with very physical play. Within the first 17 minutes, the referee handed out three yellow cards -- two to the Whitecaps, one to the Timbers — and Whitecaps midfielder Brad Rusin was taken off on a stretcher after earning the third yellow card when he made a challenge for a ball against Diego Valeri.

A lapse in defense by the Whitecaps in the 49th minute put the Timbers ahead.

Valeri dribbled down the right side and sent a soft pass into the box. It reached Ryan Johnson, who was unmarked, at the penalty dot. Johnson's header slipped just inside the left post.

Johnson, normally a starter, had subbed for Frederic Piquionne, who was injured in the 40th minute. The goal was Johnson’s seventh of the season.

“It was a good ball from Valeri,” Johnson said. “I timed my run and made sure I got good contact on it. It was a good finish.”

Vancouver evened the score on a phenomenal corner kick and a somewhat less than textbook header.

Vancouver striker Camilo da Silva Sanvezzo took the corner kick from the left side. He sent a perfect ball into the 6-yard box. Harvey hit the ball with the back of his head and redirected it inside the left post.

“If we make the play in the corner, it’s a 1-0 win,” Porter lamented.

Portland finished with .579 percent of the possession and outshot the Whitecaps 13-10.

Portland will play its next MLS match Aug. 17 at home against FC Dallas.

On Wednesday, the Timbers will play at Real Salt Lake in the semifinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Porter said his players will be ready physically and emotionally.

“We’ve got a big game on Wednesday with an Open Cup opportunity,” he said. “This group is going to be up for it, just like they were tonight. The guys will be fine (physically). We’ll pick our lineup and game plan not based on how they are physically, because they’re fine, they’re fit. These guys will be fine by Wednesday. We’ll pick our best team and come up with a plan to win the game, plain and simple.”