I think it was the rendition of "My House" sung loudly and proudly by the Portland Timbers supporters at BC Place last night that really broke me. There have been very few times where I have left a home Whitecaps match with such a mix of anger, frustration and concern.
The Vancouver Whitecaps played one of the worst home matches that I can remember at the worst possible time. In all fairness, the Whitecaps did play encouraging, high tempo football with exciting combinations and link-up play that gave the impression that the boys in Blue and White were up to the occasion. Unfortunately, that period of the game lasted all of about ten minutes. The first ten minutes of the game, to be exact. After that good start the team got lost in a limbo of unimaginative play combined with costly defensive lapses that allowed the Portland Timbers to embarrass the Whitecaps at home and leapfrog them in the Western conference standings, gaining sole possession of the fifth and last playoff spot.
Carl Robinson made four changes to the lineup that started last weekend against the LA Galaxy. Johnny Leveron, Darren Mattocks, Sebastian Fernandez and Mehdi Ballouchy made way for Kendall Waston and Mauro Rosales to make their home debuts and first start with the Whitecaps. We also saw the return of Matias Laba and Erick Hurtado to the starting XI.
The Portland Timbers scored three second half goals. The first one, scored by Portland right back Alvas Powell came only six minutes into the second half reaffirming a trend of giving up goals right before or right after the halftime whistle. While the Whitecaps had a couple of chances through freshly substituted Darren Mattocks and man of the match Mauro Rosales, the truth is a second Portland goal felt more likely than an equalizer.
Eventually that second Portland goal, which felt inevitable, did come at the 75th minute via Maximilano Urruti four minutes before Rodney Wallace put the last nail in the Whitecaps coffin.
Trying to pinpoint what went wrong last night is a difficult task and I would need a much longer word limit but, in a nutshell, I saw a lack of intensity and passion to match a derby match, a group of young players who have difficulty controlling the ball (that makes it difficult to, you know, do everything else), defensive lapses and lack of imagination in creating goal scoring opportunities.
The Whitecaps are now out of a playoff spot (albeit by one point) but are now just three points ahead of seventh place Colorado Rapids, they have won two out of the last thirteen games, they are scoreless in four out of the five matches and they are heading into the last nine games with serious doubts about their ability to become a playoff team.