The Portland Timbers faced off against the Vancouver Whitecaps tonight and came up short, losing 2-0 to the Caps in their second match of the 2016 Simple Invitational. The Timbers fielded a team entirely comprised of bench and T2 players, and came up against a Vancouver side that had the majority of the Whitecaps' first choice starting XI on the pitch by the end of the match.
The difference in the team's lineups would tell as the game went on, with Vancouver the team better able to capitalize on their opponent's mistakes.
While the Timbers' defense had looked like the team's strong point through most of the first half, the Whitecaps were still able to find a crack in the team's armor, opening the scoring in the 39th minute of the match. With Kekuta Manneh pushing harder and harder down the Timbers right flank, the Whitecaps found themselves with an opportunity to expose the Timbers off a corner kick.
Pedro Morales, the Whitecaps' set piece specialist, curled the corner across the top of the box, finding Blas Perez fading away from the goal at the far post. With his man failing to follow him, Perez found himself with the ball at his feet and space in which to operate, lining up a simple shot at the near post that was just outside the reach of Jake Gleeson, hitting the back of the net and giving the Whitecaps the 1-0 lead.
Things did not improve for the Timbers as the game went on. Already down a goal, the second string side struggled to put together any cohesive attacking sequences, notching thirteen shots over the course of the match, but putting only three on goal. The Timbers' passing struggles extended to the defensive end as well and were the root cause of the Whitecaps' second goal.
In the 72nd minute, an errant pass out of the Timbers back line was picked off by Whitecaps designated player Octavio Rivero. Rivero drove at the Timbers back line of the, cutting inside from the Timbers' left flank and dribbling across the top of the box, before hitting a low, hard shot that swerved just inside the far post around Gleeson's outstretched fingertips.
Now down by two, the Timbers pressed hard to get back in the match, but could not break down the same stout Vancouver defense that caused MLS first teams such trouble last year. Eventually, despite a series of half-chances for the Timbers, referee Ricardo Salazar blew his whistle, signaling the end of the match.
The Timbers have one game left in the Simple Invitational, Saturday's late match against the Chicago Fire.