Timbers edge Whitecaps, 1-0

Portland gains valuable points in chase for playoffs

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photoPortland Timbers' Kenny Cooper, left, heads the ball away from Vancouver Whitecaps' Alain Rochat during the first half Sunday.

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Kenny Cooper scored in the 25th minute and the Portland Timbers beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 1-0 in the first MLS game played at the newly refurbished BC Place Stadium.

The Timbers (11-13-7) took advantage of a Whitecaps mistake to score the only goal they would need as defender Alain Rochat turned the ball over at midfield. Midfielder Diego Chara fed Cooper a perfect ball and the big forward hammered a shot from the top of the box over the outstretched fingers of Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

The Whitecaps (4-16-10) pressed for the tying goal in second half but the Portland defense was equal to the challenge.

Vancouver striker Eric Hassli missed a scoring chance on a header in the final moments, and then pounded the turf with his fist.

Among the sold-out crowd of 21,000 celebrating the return to BC Place was a large contingent of Timbers fans. Dressed in green, they sang and waved flags throughout the match.

The Whitecaps supporters did their best to drown out the visitors by pounding drums and chanting constantly.

Included in the renovations is a retractable roof that opened moments before kickoff. A huge video board hanging in the center showed the action in HD so sharp it looked like you were watching at home on your own TV.

The game was played on a modern Polytan synthetic surface, considered one of the best for soccer. Throughout the building there are 800 Wi-Fi points and 1,150 digital screens, wider seats, improved acoustics and enhanced concession and bathroom facilities.

The CFL’s B.C. Lions played the first game in the renovated stadium Friday.

Beaming Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi looked around the stadium with pride.

“I’m absolutely satisfied,” Lenarduzzi said. “There are a lot of things we assumed would be good but we could never tell until we were in here. It’s everything I expected it to be.”

The Whitecaps failed to score on a couple of golden first-half chances.

Shea Salinas blasted a hard shot that just missed the left corner of the net in the 22nd minute.

A little later, midfielder Peter Vagenas sent a pass to Camilo, who sent a hard shot that Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins handled.

The game was physical game and Chara was issued a yellow card in the first half for a hard tackle on Camilo. Hassli, meanwhile, was given a yellow card for bowling over a Portland player in the second half.

TIMBERS 1, WHITECAPS 0

Portland 1 0—1

Vancouver 0 0—0

First half—1, Portland, Cooper 7 (Chara), 25th minute.

Second half—None.

Goalies—Portland, Troy Perkins; Vancouver, Joe Cannon.

Yellow Cards—Chara, Portland, 42nd; Hassli, Vancouver, 53rd; Chabala, Portland, 63rd; Marcelin, Portland, 66th.

Referee—Mark Geiger. Assistant Referees—Craig Lowry. Peter Manikowski. 4th Official—David Gantar.

Lineups

Portland—Troy Perkins, Mike Chabala, Mamadou Danso, Eric Brunner, Sal Zizzo, Darlington Nagbe, Lovel Palmer, James Marcelin, Diego Chara, Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike, 85th), Jorge Perlaza (Eric Alexander, 66th).

Vancouver—Joe Cannon, Alain Rochat, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey, Davide Chiumiento (Mustapha Jarju, 68th), Shea Salinas (Long Tan, 80th), Gershon Koffie, Jeb Brovsky, Peter Vagenas (John Thorrington, 57th), Eric Hassli, Camilo.