PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)Felipe Mora scored in the opening minutes and the Timbers held off the Whitecaps 1-0 on Sunday night in Vancouver’s first ”home” match in Portland.
Travel restrictions forced Major League Soccer’s Canadian teams to find temporary homes in the United States for the remainder of the season. So the Whitecaps will play six more of their remaining nine games at Portland’s Providence Park.
Whitecaps signage, including ads for the team’s sponsors, circled the field Sunday. The team is training at the University of Portland while isolating at a hotel.
”We are pro football players so we have to adapt to any situation,” Portland defender Larrys Mabiala said about playing an away match at home. ”Of course it’s very weird for us. But crazy things are happening around the world today.”
The Whitecaps (5-9-0) were coming off a 6-0 loss to LAFC on Wednesday night. It was the team’s fifth match in 15 days.
The Timbers (7-4-3) are unbeaten in four straight, including a 1-0 victory over rival Seattle on Wednesday night. Portland, which won the MLS is Back tournament in Florida this past summer, was challenging the defending MLS Cup champions Sounders for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Mora scored on a header off a free kick from Eryk Williamson to give the Timbers the early lead. It was Mora’s fourth goal of the season.
”I felt like it could be better defended by all of us,” Vancouver coach Marc Dos Santos said about the set piece ”Unfortunately for us it went in.”
The Whitecaps came out of the break with more resolve. Lucas Cavallini came close with a diving header in the 52nd minute but his timing was just slightly off and the attempt went just wide.
”There are chances that sometimes you regret missing. But it is what it is,” Cavallini said. ”There’s no time to feel sorry and feel bad and put our heads down. Especially myself, I have to be better and stay positive.”
Vancouver was hurt in the second half when defender Cristian Gutierrez injured his right ankle and had to be helped off the field.
Portland switched up its lineup for the match, with regular starters Diego Valeri and Jeremy Ebobisse available on the bench. Valeri replaced Williamson at the half, and Ebobisse subbed in with about 14 minutes to go.
Valeri had a clear shot in stoppage time but Vancouver goalkeeper Bryan Meredith pushed it aside.
Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark got his second straight shutout.
”It allows you to build confidence,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said about the clean sheet. ”It allows you to feel like you’re building in the right direction.”
Among the other Canadian teams, Toronto is playing home matches at Pratt & Whitney Stadium in East Hartford, Connecticut. The Reds beat the Columbus Crew 3-1 on Sunday night in their first home game south of the border.
The Montreal Impact are playing home games at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey.
Although the Timbers and the Whitecaps are Cascadia rivals, the match did not count toward the Cascadia Cup, the supporter-created trophy for the winner of the three-way rivalry with the Seattle Sounders each season.
Supporters of the three teams decided the Cascadia Cup would not be awarded this season because fans are not at the games.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports