PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Jorge Perlaza had a goal and an assist, and the Portland Timbers beat the Cascadia Cup rival Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Saturday night in the first match this season between the Major League Soccer expansion teams.
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak for the Timbers (8-12-5), who are holding onto playoff hopes in their first season. The Whitecaps (3-13-9), in the basement of the Western Conference standings, have lost three of their last four games.
The match was the latest showdown in the fan-created Cascadia Cup rivalry between the Timbers, the Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders, which came about in 2004 when all three Pacific Northwest teams competed in a lower division.
Diego Chara scored his first MLS goal in the second minute of the match, taking a feed from fellow Columbian and good friend Perlaza and squeezing between two defenders before blasting the ball past Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon.
"It was very emotional," Chara said through a translator. "I'm very happy and hopefully I'll get a lot more."
Perlaza scored his sixth goal of the season in the 33rd minute from close range.
The Whitecaps avoided their second straight shutout when midfielder Camilo scored in the 88th minute. It was his eighth goal of the season.
"I think we did well to keep them at bay for so long," Timbers coach John Spencer said.
Portland had dropped two straight, both on the road, including a 3-1 loss at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night.
The Whitecaps have yet to win on the road this season.
"At least we got one (goal) in the end to give our fans something to cheer about and go home with," Cannon said.
The Timbers were hurt late in the match when Futty Danso was taken from the field by stretcher with a hamstring injury. He did not appear to have been touched by another player when he went down.
The original Cascadia Cup was introduced when the Timbers, Whitecaps and Sounders were part of the United Soccer Leagues First Division. Fans pooled their money to buy a 2-foot tall trophy, which went to the team that finishes with the best record in head-to-head matches among the trio, based on a points system.
The Timbers have claimed the trophy for the past two seasons in the competition with the Whitecaps, after the Sounders were pulled out of the mix by their jump to MLS. Now that Vancouver and Portland have joined the league this season, the cup again is again being contested by the three teams.
The return game between the Timbers and Whitecaps will be the debut of the renovated BC Place Stadium in Vancouver in early October.
The Sounders beat the Timbers 3-2 on July 2, and both Portland and Vancouver have played to ties with Seattle.
Temperatures were in the 90s in Portland on Saturday, the warmest of the summer so far. Groundskeepers tending the turf at Jeld-Wen Field sprayed the Timbers Army supporters section to help keep fans cool.
The Timbers Army, known for spectacular fan displays known as tifos, waved hundreds of large City of Portland flags following the national anthem.
Saturday's match was attended by 18, 627 fans for the Timbers' 13th consecutive sellout.
Vancouver coach Tom Soehn was impressed.
"It's a fantastic advertisement for MLS and when they (the Timbers) come up they're going to get more of the same," he said.