|Darren Mattocks gets the Timbers second goal of the day.|
Adi was given the night off due to a one game suspension by the MLS Disciplinary Committee, who issued the verdict due to violent contact against Sporting KC defender Ike Opara in the 26th minute. Considering the contact that went between the sides all match, I was more than surprised that the committee chose to discipline Adi, but I'm not the one in charge either so Timbers Coach Caleb Porter would have to adjust his tactics. Adi, however, wasn't the only change in the starting eleven as Porter elevated Vytas and Liam Ridgewell into the starting backline as both have fully recovered from their lingering injuries, but Porter started Lawrence Olum alongside Ridgewell with Alvas Powell flanked out right instead of Roy Miller, who has been the defensive stalwart for the Timbers so far this year. Jake Gleeson was suffering with a hip flexor injury, so Jeff Attinella would get his first start for Portland in goal with Kendall McIntosh his backup, marking the first time that Kendall has made the gameday 18. Darren Mattocks would be the direct replacement for Adi as the lone forward, but Porter changed up the attack by starting Dairon Asprilla at one of the wings with Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe the other midfielder attackers in front of David Guzman and Diego Chara. Asprilla was replacing Sebastian Blanco, who was suffering with an abdominal injury that limited his minutes, so Porter's bench had a lot of new names alongside Miller. Blanco and McIntosh, as Chance Myers, Jack Barmby, Amobi Okugo, Marco Farfan were sub options if needed.
|Vytas and Liam Ridgewell were back for Portland.|
Portland had started slow in their previous home efforts, but Valeri put pressure on Ousted in the 2nd minute off a free kick just outside the Vancouver box that forced the Caps keeper to push it away at the last minute. The Timbers would break open the scoring in the 18th minute after consecutive blocked shots for Nagbe and Valeri, but the Valeri shot rebounded out to Guzman, who dropped a pass to Nagbe on the left flank. Nagbe moved quickly towards the right with Waston in tow, but Darlington was able to create enough space to turn and shoot from right into the left corner of goal past Ousted for his second goal of 2017 to put the Timbers up 1 to 0. Valeri had a quality shot blocked in the 25th minute, but the Timbers were able to add a second in the 40th minute off a counter attack. With the Caps taking a free kick just outside the goal, the Timbers defense cleared the restart out to Guzman, who sent Nagbe out on the break to the right. Nagbe found Valeri on the right channel, and Valeri put a cross towards the right post for Mattocks, who easily converted the effort although Ousted made it exceptionally difficult with some sprawling defense. One of the best parts of this play was the fact that Jacobson had destroyed Chara with a tackle right before the break, but Center Official Chris Penso gave the Timbers advantage and allowed the play to continue instead of stopping the break.
|Chris Penso said this wasn't a foul. He's wrong about that.|
The Timbers had to feel confident after the solid first half, but they had to feel frustrated in the 50th minute when Asprilla put a cross into Mattocks while he was running in the Whitecaps box. Waston elbowed him to the turf from behind by extending his arm, but Penso waived off calling anything as various Timbers players protested the lack of a call. The frustration boiled over 10 minutes later when Bolanos and Powell were jostling on the left portion of the Timbers box, and Bolanos earned a penalty from Powell off a light bump and some creative falling down. Penso wasted no time pointing to the spot to the protests of the Timbers and the home crowd, and in a bit of poetic justice, it was the former Sounder that stepped up to take the penalty. Attinella was impressive by guessing left and blocking the Montero penalty, but the deflection bounced right back to Montero before a Timbers defender could mark him, and Montero chipped it into goal to bring the score to 2 to 1. Over the next 5 minutes, there were several fouls on Valeri and Chara that only generated lectures from Penso to the Caps players, but it was apparent that Vancouver decided their path to leveling the score was to target the Timbers' Diegos.
|Diego Valeri had lots of company and was fouled. A lot.|
Overall, I was pleased with Nagbe's contributions to the offense as I feel he has started to take his game to the next level, and Guzman was solid in patrolling the middle. As I mentioned, Ridgewell helped solidify the defensive line in terms of organization, and his diagonal passes did provide some useful outlets to spring out the offense. With Blanco's availability limited, I was hoping to see the Timbers try and use Asprilla and Nagbe out wide to try and stretch the pitch, but Asprilla wasn't able to get out wide enough to make a difference and Nagbe spent more time patrolling the middle and finding room to work there. While I am sad to see Gleeson unavailable for the match, I was actually very impressed with how well Attinella played on the afternoon, as he showed a great composure and presence that was appreciated. My original thoughts were that this match would be a wide open battle, but in the end, it gravitated to what Cascadia Cup matches between these sides usually end up as - physical, chippy, back and forth affairs with limited scoring chances and plenty of feisty play. Honestly, would you want Cascadia Cup matches any other way?