Cooper's goal lifts Timbers past Whitecaps
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) 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.
``It was a huge win,'' Cooper said. ``It feels good to get three points against them.''
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.
It wasn't the way the Whitecaps wanted to christen their new home. The enthusiasm that bubbled before the match turned flat by the end.
``You went away frustrated and disappointed,'' Vancouver interim coach Tom Soehn said. ``I didn't think we had the best energy in the first half. That's hard to explain when you look at this venue and the excitement. We gave away a bad goal. There is no looking back. Teams punish you for mistakes.''
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.