By Jason Keller, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER – The Whitecaps will have a long time to think about where their offence went after being eliminated in the MLS Western Conference semifinal.
Fanendo Adi scored in the 31st minute as the Portland Timbers advanced with a 2-0 victory over Vancouver at BC Place on Sunday.
The Whitecaps failed to score a single goal in the two-game semifinal with their Cascadia Cup rivals. The first game was a scoreless draw at Providence Park last Sunday.
Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson said the reason his team lost was simple â€” if you can’t put the ball in the net, your chances aren’t good.
“When it’s not your day, it’s not your day, and today it wasn’t our day,” said Robinson. “When you don’t score a goal over two legs, unless you’re lucky and go to penalties and win, you’re not going to win a game of football. It’s what happens.
“And not just tonight, but for a number of games this year. That’s something I’ll have to go back to with my staff in the off-season and try and bring in some more goals. Because it cost us, especially tonight, and that’s something you’ve got to take on the chin.”
The atmosphere in BC Place was electric with 27,837 fans cheering on the Whitecaps in their first ever MLS home playoff game. Vancouver’s Kekuta Manneh came out on fire with two glorious chances to put the home side on the board first.
But instead of Manneh scoring, he suffered an ankle injury after a collision with Portland defender Nat Borchers at 20 minutes. He returned soon after, but was forced to exit for good in obvious pain and was replaced by Mauro Rosales.
That changed the complexion of the game and Portland scored soon after. It stunned the crowd and put immense pressure on Vancouver, which then needed two home goals to counter the Timbers’ away-goal.
“We let them score, it made our situation tougher,” said Rosales. “It was a crucial game for us and this kind of game you have to step up.”
The first goal of the series started with a Portland throw in. Timbers midfielder Diego Valeri controlled the ball in the Whitecaps box before finding Adi, who blasted a left-footed shot into the top corner.
“When I saw Diego (Valeri) on the ball, I knew he was going to cut it back,” said Adi. “I just stayed in position. The ball came and I hit it well.”
Portland settled into a possession style soon after and carried it into the second half.
Midfielder Darren Mattocks came into the game in the 62nd minute to give the Whitecaps a spark. But Portland continued to stymy Vancouver with the ball seemingly on a rope for the defensive-minded Timbers.
As early as 80 minutes, some ‘Caps fans began heading for the exits as Portland put on a clinic on how to close out a game.
Portland officially put the game away in stoppage time with a goal by Diego Chara.
“We’re disappointed in ourselves,” said Whitecaps defender Tim Parker. “We had a lot of talent in this room this year. And we know we could have gone a lot farther.”
The Timbers will next take on FC Dallas in the Conference Final. Dallas defeated the Seattle Sounders 2-1 on penalties in the other semifinal earlier Sunday.
“I think we managed both legs really well,” said Portland head coach Caleb Porter. “We didn’t give up the away goal which led into this game. We knew they would want to come out, and yet we wanted to be aggressive as well.”