BY MIKE DONOVAN
Down to ten men and down a goal on the road, it looked as if the Timbers record unbeaten streak might come to end. But Jose Adolfo Valencia made sure it didn’t.
Valencia’s goal six minutes from the end, earned Portland (4-1-7, 19 points) a 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps Saturday at BC Place. The tie runs Portland’s unbeaten run to ten straight and denied Vancouver (3-4-4, 13 points) their first win against a Cascadia opponent since joining the MLS in 2011.
The game-tying goal came on a outstanding individual effort by Valencia. The 21-year-old Colombian controlled a long-ball from Will Johnson, calmly maneuvered around two Whitecap defenders, then slotted home a soft left-footed shot past Brad Knighton.
Making just his fourth appearance for the club, Valencia knotted his first goal since arriving from Colombia’s Independiente Santa Fe prior to the 2012 season. He missed all of last season due to injury and hadn’t played in 2013 since March 16 after being past on the depth chart by Frederic Piquionne.
Just three minutes before Valencia’s goal, Timbers defender Futty Danso was given a red card for fouling Camilo Da Silva Sanvezzo outside the penalty area. At that point, it looked as if Vancouver might be able to get past the Timbers for the first time in MLS.
A world-class free kick by Camilo gave the Whitecaps the lead midway through the first half. Camilo was all over the field for the Caps, delivering a goal and an assist while being a constant nuisance to Timbers defenders. Camilo not only earned the foul that sent off Danso, but also the one that set up his free kick goal.
The rivalry game featured 31 foul calls to just 8 shots on goal and also saw Will Johnson slot home a penalty kick after Andy O’Brien deflected a Johnson shot with his hand. After not being awarded a penalty kick for all of 2012, Johnson has now taken and scored two this year for the club.
Minutes after the penalty kick, Gershon Koffie, who was a constant presence for the Caps and led the game with 11 recoveries, scored the go-ahead goal when his right-footed curler left Donovan Ricketts flat-footed. However, Koffie’s goal did not stand up, due to Valencia’s heroics.
Brad Knighton, who was making his first start of the season in goal for Vancouver, had little action for the majority of the match, but did provide a nice save on a Rodney Wallace first-half header. However, there was little the former USL-era Timber could do to keep out the two Portland goals.
The draw leaves the Timbers as the only unbeaten team on the road in MLS in 2013 and the club will hit the road again next Saturday to take on DC United. Vancouver will get 10 days off, before hosting the Montreal Impact in the second leg of the Canadian Championship on May 29.