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Aug 26, 2012

Timbers end 8-match winless streak

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Franck Songo'o scored the go-ahead goal and the Portland Timbers snapped an eight-match Major League Soccer winless streak with a 2-1 victory over Pacific Northwest rival Vancouver on Saturday night.

Songo'o's goal, his first with the Timbers, came on a free kick in the 55th minute that beat Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon.

Portland had not won since a 2-1 victory over San Jose on July 3. The Timbers also lost on penalty kicks to English Premier League side Aston Villa in a friendly on July 24.

"We're all happy now because it's been a long, long, long time since we've had a win," Songo'o said.

The Timbers were 0-6-2 in MLS play going into the sold-out Cascadia Cup match against the Whitecaps.

The Cascadia Cup is the annual head-to-head competition between Major League Soccer's three northwest teams: the Timbers, Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders. Vancouver has yet to win a Cascadia match since joining MLS last season.

The Whitecaps (10-10-7) are fighting for a playoff spot but they've dropped three straight, including a 2-0 loss to the Sounders last weekend. Vancouver has lost five straight on the road.

Vancouver's last visit to Portland was a 1-1 draw on May 26, a match that was marked by a delay when a severe thunderstorm rolled through the city.

The Timbers (6-13-6) are in last place in the league's Western Conference and fired coach John Spencer back on July 9. General manager Gavin Wilkinson took over as the team's coach for the rest of the season, but some fans have called for his dismissal, too. One held a large sign at Jeld-Wen Field that said simply "GW OUT."

The Cascadia victory may silence the critics for the time being.

Darlington Nagbe ran past Vancouver defender Lee Young-pyo and scored from outside the box in the 41st minute to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead. But Vancouver's Kenny Miller beat Portland goalkeeper Donvan Ricketts to even it just before the half.

Nagbe became the first Timbers player to score in three straight MLS matches.

Songo'o, a native of Cameroon playing in his first MLS season, scored on the free kick from about 25 yards out to put Portland ahead in the second half. Defender Steven Smith saved the lead in the 74th minute when he headed the ball out of the mouth of the goal.

"At halftime you could see a lot of the guys were frustrated from giving up that goal," Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury said. "We went back out there and we felt we could win it."

Portland was without midfielder Diego Chara, who was suspended for a game because of too many yellow cards. He was replaced in the starting lineup by Eric Alexander.

The Whitecaps saw the return of captain Jay DeMerit, who sustained a concussion in Vancouver's win over Real Salt Lake on Aug. 11. Midfielder Barry Robson also returned after a one-game suspension for behavior toward an assistant referee in a loss to Dallas two weekends ago.

Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie said he was disappointed to have given Vancouver's travelling fans two straight weekends with losses.

"That wasn't anywhere near the standard we'd expect from anybody," he said.

Vancouver reserve Darren Mattocks was given a red card and ejected from Saturday's match after an elbow to Portland defender David Horst's face in the 84th minute.

"He's a young player, but he's got to learn from that," Rennie said. "That's something that could hold him back."

The original Cascadia Cup was introduced in 2004 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.

Seattle claimed the Cascadia Cup for the first time at the MLS level by winning at both Portland and Vancouver last season and coming away with draws at home against each side.

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