Loss to Timbers extinguishes Whitecaps’ playoff hopes

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Vancouver Whitecaps have been eliminated from the playoffs after suffering a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

With Major League Soccer’s berths being determined based on points per game this season, the ‘Caps (8-13-0) needed at least a tie against Portland (11-5-5) to keep their post-season dreams hopes alive.

This is the third year in a row that the Whitecaps have missed the playoffs.

Yimmi Chara scored the lone goal on Sunday with an assist from Jorge Villafana.

Portland’s Steve Clark stopped two on-target shots for his fifth clean sheet of the season, and Evan Bush made one save for Vancouver.

The two sides battled through a scoreless first half before the Timbers finally broke the stalemate in the 61st minute.

Villafana got the ball to Chara just outside of the six-yard box and the Colombian midfielder’s shot sailed past Bush before he could get down to make the stop.

The first half saw a defensive battle between the two sides, with Portland controlling 57 per cent of the possession. The Timbers outshot the Whitecaps 6-to-5, but only one was one target.

Cavallini had Vancouver’s first chance of the night, firing a long shot just wide of Portland’s net in the 11th minute.

Portland responded three minutes later, when Pablo Bonilla sent a cross to Larrys Mabiala. The French defender launched a right-footed shot from the centre of the box, forcing Bush to make a big save.

Another solid opportunity for the ‘Caps came in the 41st minute when striker Lucas Cavallini sent a cross to Cristian Dajome at the top of the penalty box. The Colombian forward wound up to fire the ball, but saw his shot blocked by Eryk Williamson.

Fredy Montero nearly put Vancouver ahead with a header in the 45th minute. The ball hung in the air before it was swept off the goal line by Diego Chara.

Vancouver amped up the offensive power to close out the game, swapping more defensive minded players like Jake Nerwinski for forward Theo Bair after the Timbers’ goal.

Cavallini got a big opportunity directly in front of the Portland net in the 80th minute but Clark scooped up the shot, despite traffic in front of the net.

Though the officials tacked on six minutes of injury time, the Whitecaps couldn’t finish their chances.

The Whitecaps will close out their season on Nov. 8 when they host the L.A. Galaxy in Portland.

NOTES: Jaroslaw Neizgoda was taken off on a stretcher in end-of-game injury time following a midfield collision. ? Vancouver midfielder Michael Baldisimo will miss the final game of the season after taking a yellow card in the 88th minute Sunday. ? Villafana played his 100th regular-season MLS game for the Timbers.

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