The Portland Timbers put in a comprehensive performance today against the Vancouver Whitecaps as the two teams met at Providence Park for the second time this year. The Whitecaps may have entered the match in possession of the 5th place spot in MLS's Western Conference, but the Timbers held the playoff berth when 90' were up thanks to a 3-0 driven by yet another masterful performance from Diego Valeri.
The match's early going saw the Timbers and Whitecaps taking turns burning up and down the sun-drenched pitch, but as the heat began to force play to slow, the Timbers took control of the match. An uncharacteristically, in 2014 at least, solid defensive showing from Pa Modou Kah and Liam Ridgewell in the centerback spots gave the Timbers a solid foundation on which to build and they held long spells of possession in the attacking half as the defense quickly cleaned up any of the occasional Vancouver forays down the pitch.
In the 28', the Timbers' domination finally paid off. Coming off a Vancouver turnover, the Timbers got the ball out wide to Jorge Villafana on the left wing. With a look to the center of the pitch Villafana picked out Diego Valeri making a run into the center of the Vancouver box.
With the defenders drawn off to either side of Valeri, Villafana was able to pick out the Maestro with a pinpoint pass, dropping the ball directly onto Valeri's left foot with a curling cross. As the ball fell to him, Valeri took it on the volley with his first touch, hitting a laser volley that gave David Ousted no chance as it flew over the Vancouver keeper's head and into the roof of the net, putting the Timbers up 1-0.
Where they might have started to stutter earlier in the season, the Timbers went right on dominating the match following the opening strike. Even into the second half the Timbers saw no drop off in their play.
It was in the second half that the Timbers would grow their lead, striking twice in four minutes. Valeri was again at the center of the Timbers' second goal, nipping forward and stealing the ball off the foot of a Whitecaps defender in the 66'.
Pushing quickly forward, Valeri looked up and found only Fanendo Adi and defender Kendall Waston with him. Drawing Waston in, Valeri played a simple ball forward for Adi to run onto, going one on one with Ousted. With the Whitecaps keeper rushing out to close him down, all Adi needed was a toe poke to put the ball past Ousted and into the back of the net.
Three minutes later, in the 69', it was Darlington Nagbe who turned provider for Adi. Getting the ball just outside the Vancouver box, Nagbe looked like he had room to shoot, but instead slipped the ball into space for Adi. Once again it was Adi one on one with Ousted and once again Adi was able to slip the ball past the keeper, this time firing a shot through Ousted's legs for the final goal of the match.