The Portland Timbers have won the Western Conference and the Cascadia Cup after beating their northern rivals, the Vancouver Whitecaps, 2-1 in the final match of the 2017 regular season. Despite falling behind in the first half, the Timbers were pulled even by Liam Ridgewell and given the game-winner by Darren Mattocks.
The match started off with predictably physical play from both sides. With the Whitecaps looking to pack it in and hit on the break and the Timbers comfortable in possession, neither team had much success creating chances in the early going.
The deadlock was broken in the 29th minute, however, when the Whitecaps found forward Yordy Reyna rushing forward in space. As Reyna turned toward the Timbers’ back line, he was taken down by David Guzman, giving the visitors a long-range free kick in the Timbers half. With the big men brought forward, Reyna curled the restart into the Timbers’ box where Vancouver Captain Kendall Waston had shaken free of Larrys Mabiala and risen up to meet the ball. Waston took the free header with power and placement, sending the ball back across the face of goal and beating Jeff Attinella at the back post to put the Whitecaps up 1-0.
The Timbers were quick to answer, however, with a quick goal of their own just three minutes later. After taking down a long corner kick that arched over the Whitecaps box, Darlington Nagbe took a touch toward the center of the pitch before hitting a curling shot on goal that forced Vancouver keeper Stefan Marinovic into a diving save that pushed the ball wide of goal. As the ball skipped away, however, Liam Ridgewell was in the right place at the right time to stick out a boot and knock the rebound home to tie the game at one apiece.
Once both sides were on the board, the chances began to come, with the best favoring the Timbers. Although the home side would come close several more times to close out the first half, the sides went into the locker rooms still at 1-1.
The even scoreline would not last long after play resumed as the Timbers took a 2-1 lead in the 48th minute. As Sebastian Blanco carried the ball across the top of the Whitecaps box on the dribble, he fought his way around a pair of defenders before sending a through ball into the path of Vytas Andriuskevicius. One on one with the keeper, Vytas cut the ball back, finding Darren Mattocks in the box for a strong, first-time finish that hit the gap between a pair of Vancouver defenders and splashed into the back of the net to put the Timbers in front.
Now ahead, the Timbers began to take a more defensive shape, locking things down and daring the Whitecaps to come at them as they looked to grind the match out.
Chances came for both sides as the match wore on. The Timbers came close on the break in the 83rd minute as Blanco and Alvas Powell combined on the right before Blanco slipped a shot just wide of the far post. The Whitecaps had their moments as well, mixing it up on every corner and free kick.
The Timbers will be back in action for the Western Conference Semifinals and will face the lowest seed of the teams that survive the knockout rounds.