The Portland Timbers knew they were going to have a desperate team on their hands and that the game might become a a track meet. The first half was anything but the track meet it could have been but there was signs that it might turn into one.
From the first whistle you could tell both teams were trying to score the first goal but not overextend themselves to the point where the other team could take advantage. Even with both teams playing cautiously the game was a back and forth affair that had the potential to become a wild affair. The Vancouver Whitecaps utilized Darren Mattocks and his speed after gaining possession of the ball while Portland slowly moved the ball up the feel probing for weak spots in the Whitecaps' defense.
Portland's approach consisted of switching the ball from Michael Harrington to Jack Jewsbury while slowly moving up the field. Defensively they tried to squeeze Vancouver high up the field but at times the high pressure was bypassed when Daigo Kobayashi was able to find pockets of space between the backline and the two center midfielders. Both teams created chances but most of the shots were either deflected, blocked or not on target. The best chances of the half usually came off of corners for Vancouver and despite Portland's penchant for giving up set piece goals the defended them well with well and were able to clear the ball. Portland's best chances came when they transitioned quickly after winning the ball back from Vancouver and not when they slowed down to possess the ball.
When Portland did transition quickly it was usually because Darlington Nagbe was in attack mode. He would receive the ball and turn to attack Vancouver's defense but when he did not the attack seemed stagnant and easy to defend. Nagbe's attack mode caused Vancouver to be cautious of him and at times they gave him space so he would not beat them on the dribble and this came back to bite them int he 41st minute.
After a turnover forced by the constant pressure Maximiliano Urrruti continues Will Johnson found Darlington Nagbe 25 yards from goal and no one stepping up to pressure him. With no pressure he was able to tee up his shot and get a great strike on the ball which found it's way into the upper corner of the goal.
The second half was a completely different affair with Vancouver showing the desperation one expected to see from a team needing a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Vancouver was gunning for the equalizer and Portland's defense was under constant pressure as Vancouver started to commit numbers forward. Caleb Porter must have sensed the game was transitioning to a track meet and so he inserted Diego Valeri to help possess the ball and kill the game off or to hit the killer pass in transition to get the second goal.
With 15 minutes the game reached a breaking point. Needing a goal Vancouver earned a free kick about 35 yards from goal Camilo Sanvezzo took the free kick and his shot bounced off of Rodney Wallace's head. The deflection caused Donovan Ricketts to be wrong footed and not able to dive and save the ball. Portland was undeterred as they took the kick off and attacked down the right side of the field through Nagbe. Nagbe's cutback at the end line opened up passing lanes and he was able to find Will Johnson crashing the box and his shot hit the far post's side netting.
One minute later Vancouver repaid the favor. Mattocks played a cross all the way through the box and the bouncing ball was played back in the air towards Camilo. Camilo then scissor kicked the ball in the air for a goal of the year candidate.
The scoreline would have been much different without the Donovan Ricketts show. He made multiple saves including an amazing double save and a great diving save on a long range volley.
- Portland's offense really lacks bite without Valeri
- Ricketts is a beast when he is on his game
- Portland cannot win the Cascadia Cup, they needed to win both of their remaining games.
- I am not sure what the referee saw but I thought there was a red cardable offense and possibly a second yellow on Camilo.