By MIKE DONOVAN
After 75 minutes of soccer, a Darlington Nagbe strike was the only difference between the Timbers and Whitecaps.
But then, the teams combined for a cardiac final 15 minutes that saw a three-goals-in-three-minute sequence, world-class saves by Donovan Ricketts, and an incredible overhead-volley goal by Camilo Sanvezzo. In the end, the teams finished at 2-2 Sunday night at BC Place in a result that inched Portland one step closer to the postseason and might have pushed the Whitecaps out.
Camilo’s second goal was of the world-class variety and gave the Canadian side a tie for the lead, less than a minute after Will Johnson had put the Timbers up 2-1. On the right side of the penalty area, Camilo took a Lee Young-Pyo pass and delivered a perfect flying kick into the back of the Timbers net. Ricketts was left helpless as the ball blew past him.
The Jamaican international goalkeeper however saved a point for the Timbers when his outstretched right arm was able to deny a Kekuta Manneh volley that almost gave the Caps the full three points and a lifeline in their fight to stay in playoff contention. The diving save, which was Ricketts’ sixth save of the match, capped a whirlwind final 15 minutes.
When Nagbe unleashed a 25-yard blast and gave the Timbers a 1-0 lead near the end of the first half, it appeared Portland might leave Canada in a first-place tie at the top of the Western Conference standings. But the Timbers head home two points behind league-leading RSL and one point in back of Cascadia rival, Seattle Sounders, who the club will meet next Sunday at Jeld-Wen Field.
Nagbe’s goal was destined for greatness, until Camilo delivered his own classy effort. Camilo also netted the Whitecaps first tally when his free kick took a deflection off Rodney Wallace and found its way past Ricketts. The two goals give the Brazilian 18 on the season, just one shy of Marco Di Vaio’s league-leading 19.
Will Johnson’s goal, which came just 64 seconds after Camilo’s first, was the Canadian’s eighth of the season and gives Portland four players with eight goals in 2013. The Timbers are just the second team in MLS history to turn that feat joining the 2012 San Jose Earthquakes.
With three matches remaining, Vancouver currently sits six points behind the Colorado Rapids and the LA Galaxy, who are tied for fourth-place. Vancouver takes on the Sounders Wednesday in Seattle followed by a home-and-home with the Rapids to finish the season.