Things looked dire for the Portland Timbers’ coming into tonight’s match, but a strong team effort and big performances at both ends of the pitch from Jake Gleeson and Jeremy Ebobisse saw the team run out the 2-1 winners over the Vancouver Whitecaps, snapping their winless skid and giving the teams some breathing room above the dreaded red line.
The Timbers struck first, opening the scoring in the 14th minute. After a Timbers corner kick into the Vancouver was headed away the ball fell to Sebastian Blanco at the top of the box. The diminutive Argentine faked the shot from distance before sending the ball out wide to Dairon Asprilla on the right. Asprilla touched the ball toward the end line, then sent a low, diagonal ball into the Whitecaps’ box, picking out the foot of rookie striker Jeremy Ebobisse who turned the ball home with a lunching deflection.
With the Timbers now up a goal, the home side began to push hard for the equalizer and in the 39th minute they almost had it. Sending a long ball over the top for the run of Fredy Montero, the Whitecaps were able to connect with their designated player forward and, as Jake Gleeson rushed out off his line, Montero was able to toe-poke the ball up and over the Timbers’ keeper. The Timbers’ center back were quick to arrive, however, and as Montero’s ball bounced toward the goal-line it was Lawrence Olum who arrived just in time to boot the chance away.
The lead would not survive the half, however, as the Whitecaps continued to create chances in the final minute of regulation. Moments after a big save from Jake Gleeson on a point-blank Tony Tchani header, the Whitecaps sent in a curling corner kick that found the run of Tim Parker at the near post. Parker flicked the ball on, sending it across the face of goal and finding the foot of Andrew Jacobson at the back post where the Vancouver midfielder was able to easily bundle it home to tie things up at 1-1.
Although the late Vancouver goal looked like it could deflate the Timbers, instead the team came roaring out of the gate in the second half, retaking the lead in just the 49th minute. After a clutch tackle from Zarek Valentin deep in the Timbers’ end, the Timbers’ right back hit a quick ball down the pitch that found its way to Blanco on the break. Driving at the Vancouver back line, Blanco got a fortunately deflected pass to the feet of Ebobisse in the Whitecaps’ box. As Blanco continued his run, Ebo flicked the ball on into the path Blanco, allowing the winger to take a touch and rip off a low shot at the far post, beating the dive of David Ousted and giving the Timbers the 2-1 lead.
The Whitecaps nearly pulled one back in the 79th minute as they looked to break the Timbers down. After a Timbers clearance was blocked from escape by the arm of Alphonso Davies, the ball fell to substitute Brek Shea just outside the keeper’s box. With room to line up one up, Shea hit a hard shot on the volley only for Gleeson to make a strong, two-handed save, preserving the Timbers’ lead.
Vancouver would continue to push forward, but with the Timbers locking down their end the match ended 2-1, breaking the Timbers’ winless streak and propelling the team back into 4th place in the Western Conference.
The Timbers are back in action next Saturday, heading to Texas to take on the Houston Dynamo.