The Portland Timbers were short handed due to injuries and suspension coming into today’s match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, but they overwhelmed the visitors early before grinding out a 2-1 win.
The Timbers held the ball for much of the match, keeping the Whitecaps pinned back in their own end and working the ball from flank to flank. The high press of former Whitecap Darren Mattocks, given the start in the absence of suspended Fanendo Adi, and Dairon Asprilla, in for injured Sebastian Blanco, gave the Whitecaps’ back line fits.
It was during one of the Timbers’ long periods of possession that the opener came. In the 18th minute David Guzman was able to get the ball to the feet of Darlington Nagbe in the center of the pitch. With a series of defenders stepping to him, Nagbe dribbled his way around them before slamming a shot over the dive of David Ousted, off the underside of bar, and into the goal to make the scoreline 1-0.
The Timbers would notch their second late in the first half, this time scoring on the break in the 40th minute. As Diego Chara was taken down by a reckless tackle from Andrew Jacobson in the center circle, the Timbers broke down the pitch as the referee signaled advantage. It was Nagbe who collected the ball and drove forward before sending the ball out wide to Valeri on the right. With a moment to lift his head, the Maestro picked out the run of Mattocks to the near post and picked out his low cross accordingly. With the ball skipping to him and a defender on his hip, Mattocks poked the ball past Ousted and into the back of the net to extend the Timbers’ lead.
The Whitecaps would work their way back into the match in the 59th minute as Cristian Bolanos went at Alvas Powell deep on the Timbers’ right. Bolanos was able to dribble past Powell but was taken down as Powell recovered and lunged for the ball, giving referee Chris Penso no choice but to point to the spot. Former Sounder Fredy Montero stepped up to the spot and his initial attempt was saved by Jeff Attinella only to see the rebound bounce into his path where he was able to put it away just before the arrival of Liam Ridgewell.
The Whitecaps would push forward for the remainder of the match, creating a number of chances, but failing to take advantage as the Timbers fought to hold onto their lead until the final whistle blew.
The Timbers are on the road for their next two matches and will be back in action next Saturday against FC Dallas.