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PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers could not maintain their blistering run of form at home, dropping their first points at Providence Park since May in a hard-fought 1-1 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night.

In a chippy and physical match between Cascadian rivals, wrapped up with a red cards after the final whistle, it was a pair of Argentinians who were the difference makers in front of goal.

The Timbers opened the scoring in the 34th minute when Diego Chara turned over Matias Laba in the Vancouver half, knocking the ball forward to Timbers’ leading scorer Fanendo Adi. The big man turned and drove toward the Whitecaps goal before sliding a ball out wide for Diego Valeri’s run into the right side of the box.

It looked like Valeri had put too much on his first touch, but with a lunging swipe, he beat David Ousted at the near post.

The Whitecaps fought back in the second half, however, pulling even in the 58th minute as Kekuta Manneh controlled the ball outside the Timbers’ penalty box. It was not the young Gambian who would score, however, as Laba took the ball off Manneh’s foot and ripped a swerving shot that curled just between the fingertips of Timbers’ keeper Adam Kwarasey and the far post, putting the Whitecaps back on level footing.

The Whitecaps could have had the lead in the early going were it not for some goal-line heroics from center back Nat Borchers. 

Vancouver seemed certain to net the opener in the 27th minute as Manneh, scorer of three goals in the Whitecaps’ previous five games, found himself one on one with Timbers’ keeper Adam Kwarasey. With a slick bit of dribbling, Manneh flew around the keeper and slotted the ball towards the empty net, but Borchers slid in to clear it off the line.

It wouldn’t be a Cascadia derby without some last-second excitement, in this case provided by Harvey and Johnson. After a series of hard tackles from both sides, Harvey went in hard on Valeri as he lost control of the ball, drawing a red card from referee Juan Guzman with no hesitation.

It was not over there, however, as Johnson received marching orders of his own while mixed up in a scrum at the center of the pitch after the final whistle had blown.

The Timbers return to the road next Saturday to face Western Conference leaders FC Dallas at Toyota Stadium, while the Whitecaps are home at BC Place the following day to welcome the San Jose Earthquakes.  

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