PORTLAND, Ore. — David Ousted had six saves and the Vancouver Whitecaps held off the charging Portland Timbers for a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their Western Conference semifinal series Sunday.
Ousted, who led Major League Soccer with 13 shutouts during the regular season, deflected Diego Valeri's dangerous free kick in the 71st minute to help preserve the tie. The two-legged, aggregate-goal series moves to Vancouver's BC Place next Sunday.
The Timbers were without starting goal keeper Adam Kwarasey, who sat because of a flu-like illness. He was replaced by Jake Gleeson, who played with the Timbers' reserve team, the USL's Timbers 2.
Gleeson, who hadn't played in an MLS game since 2011, had three saves.
Kwarasey was the hero in a knockout match Thursday night, when the Timbers won 7-6 in a penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City.
Kwarasey nailed his penalty kick before stopping Kansas City Jon Kempin's effort in the 11th round of the shootout, the longest in MLS Cup history.
Portland also was without Diego Chara, who also missed the match against Kansas City because of an unspecified leg injury.
With a marathon match and some key starters — Diego Valeri and Liam Ridgewell — sitting on yellow cards, the Timbers appeared at the onset to be at a disadvantage to the Whitecaps, who got a knockout round bye after finishing second in the Western Conference (16-13-5).
For most of the season, Vancouver was the best team in the Western Conference before fading over the final eight weeks. Vancouver had just one win in its final six matches. If there is optimism for the Whitecaps it comes from their response in the regular-season finale, a 3-0 win over Houston that ensured them the No. 2 seed.
The Whitecaps had one of the best chances in the first half, with Octavio Rivero's shot from atop the box in the 39th minute. Gleeson went right for the save.
The Timbers upped the pressure in the second half, but ultimately couldn't get past Ousted. Alvas Powell's cross cased some scrambling in front of the Whitecaps' goal in the 54th minute. With Ousted stumbling, Kendall Watson cleared the ball out.
Valeri curled a Portland free kick around the wall but Ousted leapt to deflect it wide. Maxi Urruti's shot in the 89th minute ricocheted off the right post.
Going into the match, Portland led the MLS series (both teams started play in 2011) 6-2-6. But the rivalry between the two Cascadia Cup rivals dates to 1975, when both played in the NASL.
Sunday's match was the first time the two teams had met in the MLS season, but 11th time in the post-season overall.
The Cascadia Cup is the annual supporters' award that goes to the points winner of the matches between the Timbers, Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders.
Anne M. Peterson, The Associated Press