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Oct 20, 2012

Whitecaps back into final playoff spot

Portland's Jack Jewsbury wins ESPN UK's vote for goal of the week in the MLS.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Jack Jewsbury scored in the 39th minute and the Portland Timbers beat Vancouver 1-0 on Sunday, winning the Cascadia Cup competition and forcing the Whitecaps to wait a few hours to secure a playoff spot.

Portland finished 3-1-2 against its Pacific Northwest rivals to take the fan-created Cascadia Cup. Seattle was 2-1-3, and Vancouver 0-3-3.

The Whitecaps (11-13-9) got into the playoffs when Seattle beat Dallas on Sunday night, becoming the first Canadian team to advance to the MLS postseason.

The Timbers (8-16-9) won for the first time on the road this season and ended a six-game losing streak before a disappointed sellout crowd of 21,000 at B.C. Place Stadium.

"It's tremendous for the fans," Portland general manager and interim coach Gavin Wilkinson said. "They thoroughly deserve it, everything aside it's something that they thoroughly deserved. It's been a long season for them and it's been a long season for the organization, and while this doesn't remove some of the things that have happened over the course of the season, it's a positive and it's something we can take into next season.

Steven Smith started the scoring play from the left flank, sending a rolling cross to Franck Songo'o near the top of the 18-yard box. Songo'o tapped the ball back to Jewsbury and he quickly fired his shot home.

"I hit it well. The ball went forward I just trailed the play and Franck got the ball, laid one back to me, I let it go and I was fortunate to find the back of the net," Jewsbury said.

The Whitecaps controlled much of the play thereafter, but could not get the equalizer.

"That's frustrating because we think the team is just where we want it to be and then we put together a performance like that. We let a lot of people down today," Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie said. "We had a big chance to move ourselves into the playoffs and move the club forward because there's so much interest right now. We didn't really take advantage of it."

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.

But the roots of the rivalry between the teams actually date to 1975, when all three cities played in the North American Soccer League.

Seattle claimed the Cascadia Cup last season, which was the first year for the Timbers and the Whitecaps in MLS.

In July, the Timbers dismissed coach John Spencer, replacing him with GM Gavin Wilkinson for the rest of the year. The team recently announced it has hired University of Akron coach Caleb Porter as its head coach for the 2013 season.

"There were multiple reasons we wanted to come in here and get the win tonight, we didn't want to go down in history as one of the teams in MLS that hadn't gotten a road win all year so we accomplished that," Jewsbury said. "But first and foremost we wanted to win the Cascadia Cup -- that means a lot not only for us but for our fans and the organization and to get that here in front of our fans that travelled to watch the game means a lot."

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