Portland, OR – It took almost two months, but the Portland Timbers have finally claimed their sixth win of the 2012 Major League Soccer season.
Portland had not won a league game since July 3, going 0-6-2 over that stretch.
But the Rose City club claimed a 2-1 derby win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Jeld-Wen Field on Saturday to snap its eight-game winless drought and climb right back into the race for the Cascadia Cup.
Darlington Nagbe and Kenny Miller traded goals inside the final four minutes of the first half, but it was Franck Songo'o's brilliant free kick in the 55th minute that proved to be the difference as it helped Portland (6-13-6) improve to 24 points on the season.
Vancouver (10-10-7) has lost three league matches in a row, putting its potential playoff berth at stake - the 'Caps sit just five points ahead of FC Dallas for the final postseason slot.
Portland nearly grabbed the lead in the 27th minute, but Bright Dike's headed effort was denied by the woodwork.
Nagbe helped ease the lingering pain of that near-goal, opening the scoring just before halftime. The 22-year-old collected a pass from Jack Jewsbury, drifted inside and showed great composure to fire a shot past Joe Cannon.
The 'Caps were able to pull one back before halftime as the Timbers failed to clear their lines following a corner kick. Jay DeMerit pumped the ball back into the box as Miller beat the offside trap to slot the equalizer past Donovan Ricketts.
But Portland clawed its way back, restoring its one-goal lead within the first 10 minutes of the second half thanks to Songo'o's inch-perfect free kick.
Vancouver pushed for equalizer, but its task was made more difficult in the 84th minute when referee David Gantar issued striker Darren Mattocks a straight red card for leading with his elbow when challenging for header.
Ultimately, playing down a man in a tough Jeld-Wen environment proved to be too much for Vancouver as the visiting 'Caps were held to yet another defeat.