They played a solid match, capitalized on their scoring chances, and for a while, it looked like the Vancouver Whitecaps would win their first ever Cascadia Cup match. However, even with a late second half lead, the Whitecaps would draw with the Portland Timbers 2-2 at BC Place.
The Whitecaps, though they did play well, seemed to be relying on a few players that brought their 'A' game, while there clearly were members of the starting lineup that didn't. In terms of players of the night, Camilo, Nigel Re-Coker and Gershon Koffie spring to mind, while Brad Rusin, Erik Hurtado and Alain Rochat fall into the 'needs improvement' category.
Speaking of the lineup, Martin Rennie continued his personnel juggling, rolling out the same formation with a few new faces. Brad Knighton got his second straight start in net, though this was his first league start of the season. YP Lee took his usual spot, while Andy O'Brien and Brad Rusin set up shop in the center back positions. Rusin got the start primarily because Johnny Leveron missed the match with a suspension. Jordan Harvey took over at left back, giving Alain Rochat a rest.
The Whitecaps got their chances early, with Gershon Koffie getting a couple of whacks at the ball before sending a rising shot over top of the Timber net at 10'. The Timbers responded 4 minutes later with a nice buildup that forced Knighton to make a goal line save, before Brad Rusin cleared the ball from a dangerous position.
The 'Caps would bring the BC Place crowd to their feet, courtesy Camilo. The young brazilian earned a free kick, then blasted a curling shot into the top right corner of Donovan Ricketts' net, making the score 1-0. It was a beautiful striker and an easy candidate for goal of the week. The goal was Camilo's third, tops on the squad. Plus, according to the Whitecaps twitter account, it was the first goal for the Whitecaps at home against the Timbers, and the first time the Whitecaps had ever taken a lead against their Cascadia Cup rivals.
Brad Knighton kept the energy in the building with a brilliant save at 30'. Rodney Wallace managed to get a close header on Knighton, who snatched the ball out of mid-air with a great reaction stop.
That would be all of the action in the first half, though it should be mentioned that both sides were going down like crazy. It made for choppy action and a real lack of fluidity for the match.
The Timbers came out swinging in the final 45, knotting the match up at 52'. Following an Andy O'Brien handball in the box, Will Johnson converted a cheeky penalty, before taunting the raucous crowd in his celebration. The 'Caps woud strike back two minutes later, with Camilo doing great work in the box fighting off several defenders, before sliding the ball to Koffie. Koffie curled a perfect shot in to give the 'Caps the lead, freezing the all word goaltender Ricketts.
At 60', Nigel Reo-Coker received a questionable yellow, meaning he will miss the next 'Caps league match, already putting a pretty big hole in the lineup, so we all Hope Daigo Kobayashi is feeling better next week.
At 81' minutes, it looked like the Whitecaps would be gifted with a win, after defender Mamadou Danso was given a red and ejected from the match following a challenge on Reo-Coker. It would reduce the Timbers to 10 men, but they still found a way to come back.
Three minutes later, Jose Valencia made the 'Caps look silly, first beating Brad Rusin on a long ball, then fooling Andy O'Brien on a cutback in the box, before sliding the ball home. A beautiful goal, but some poor defence by the Vancouver Whitecaps.
That would be it for the action, as the two squads finished the match in a draw, at 2-2.
As I mentioned before, I thought a few members of the 'Caps had off nights, most notably Brad Knighton. I don't like to pick on guys, but I think it's safe to say that centerback position is Johnny Leveron's to lose. Alain Rochat came on as a late substitute, and he was beaten on a few balls and couldn't get anything going up field, even though the Timbers were down a man. Lastly, Erik Hurtado had plenty of playing time tonight, not a lot of chances. If we're really going to give rookies starting spots (and I think they should be substitutes), then let's given Kektua Manneh a shot, shall we?
I'm not going to harp on this, but giving up a late goal, at home, and up a man is completely unacceptable. However, this club has now put forth three straight quality efforts against three very good clubs. There are positives here, but this match certainly should have been a win.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Camilo. Scored on the free kick, assisted on the second goal, and was involved in the play all night.