The Vancouver Whitecaps staged a second half comeback to top the Portland Timbers on Saturday, scoring twice in the final 45 minutes to top their Cascadia rivals in front of a sell-out crowd at BC Place. Masato Kudo and Christian Bolanos scored for Vancouver, who improve to 4-5-2 this season.
After fielding some depth players against New York, the Whitecaps made six changes to their starting eleven against Portland. Jordan Smith, Sam Adekugbe and Pa Modou Kah returned to the bench in favor of Fraser Aird, Jordan Harvey and Kendall Waston.
Octavio Rivero sat in favor of Masato Kudo, the suspended Kekuta Manneh was replaced by Cristian Techera, and Captain Pedro Morales took over for Andrew Jacobson. Matias Laba took his regular spot in the defensive midfield, while the rest of the midfielded was rounded out by Christian Bolanos, and Nicolas Mezquida.
The Whitecaps had the jump in the early going of the match, with Mezquida getting the first good chance of the match six minutes in. Mezquida's shot from a few steps outside the box was handled nicely by TImbers Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.
Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) May 7, 2016
Pedro Morales had a long shot of his own stopped a few moments later, and Masato Kudo followed that up by nearly breaking away on a long bomb, however he was bodied off the ball by a Timbers defender.
In the 19th minute, Kudo nearly put the Whitecaps on top with an absolutely glorious chance. Kudo stole the ball away then found himself with plenty of space in front of Gleeson. His shot was a disappointing one though, and the 25 year old New Zealander was able to stop it to keep the score level.
Playing in front of their home crowd, the Whitecaps showed plenty of jump in the first half. In the 25th minute, Fraser Aird caught everybody off guard by launching a good looking shot that just missed the target.
The most effective Timbers forward in the first half was actually former Whitecap Darren Mattocks, who clearly seemed motivated to score against his former club. He had plenty of pace in the first half, but in typical Mattocks fashion he had trouble finishing his chances. He had a nice shot in the 15th minute, taking a chance from almost the goal line which forced a save from David Ousted. Otherwise, the 22 year old was pretty quiet on the afternoon, harassed endlessly by Aird.
The Whitecaps played aggressively in the first half, and it nearly bit them, as Pedro Morales and Kendall Waston both found themselves with early yellow cards. To say Whitecap players were upset with the officiating is a bit of an understatement.
Pa Modou Kah getting very animated on the bench with the fourth official. Lot of mouthing off. Was told to sit down. #VANvPOR— AFTN (@aftncanada) May 7, 2016
Despite the Whitecaps carrying the play for most of the half, it was the Timbers that broke through first. In the 35th minute, Darlington Nagbe came in on David Ousted and played a nice ball that a charging Nat Borchers was able to knock home.
Nat Borchers opens the scoring in Vancouver. It's 1-0 to the Timbers. pic.twitter.com/geWdD262NJ— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) May 7, 2016
Gleeson robbed the Whitecaps of the equalizer in the 39th minute, as he was able to get his hand on a Nicolas Mezquida shot that looked destined for the back of the net. The Whitecaps nearly scored on a corner a few moments later, but they still couldn't nab that elusive first goal.
Jake Gleeson continues his pretty good week. PRETTY good. pic.twitter.com/Mi1uss1dFC— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) May 7, 2016
Despite a very good half of football, the Whitecaps found themselves down by one heading into the half.
In the second half Carl Robinson made no changes to his starting 11, obviously happy enough with what he saw in the first 45. The Timbers had the early jump though, with Fernando Adi getting a nice shot off just seconds in, however it was corralled by Ousted.
The Whitecaps responded with a Christian Bolanos blast a few seconds later, but it was handled nicely by Gleeson.
Bolanos had another glorious opportunity a few minutes later, as he ran into a shot from just outside the box that went just wide of the cage. The 'Caps kept pushing though, and in the 60th minute Masato Kudo tied it all up. As the TSN announcers sung the praises of Jake Gleeson, Kudo took a deflected pass deep in the box, then placed his shot past Gleeson for his first MLS goal.
Blas Perez came on for Nicolas Mezquida in the 63rd minute, an interesting choice considering Mezquida had been a spark plug for the entire contest. Perez made the move look pretty damn good, distracting Gleeson while a long Bolanos shot (it was more of a pass) snuck through Gleeson's knees for an absolutely awful goal. It was surprising considering the keepers stellar play to that point. The goal was the third in three matches for Bolanos, and came in the 66th minute.
Octavio Rivero came in at the 78th minute, taking off Kudo. He and Blas Perez nearly combined on a goal late in the match as Rivero played a nice ball to Rivero deep in the box. Gleeson was able to get his hand on the ensuing shot though, and robbed Perez of the insurance marker.
The Whitecaps looked like they were headed for disaster in the 87th minute, as they were able to break in with three men while the 'Caps scrambled to get back. Before Diego Valeri could get a shot off though, Pedro Morales was able to break it up with a nice defensive play, knocking the ball straight to David Ousted. The Captain earned a well deserved pat on the back from Ousted on that one.
The Whitecaps made another substitution in the 90th minute, taking Techera off for Erik Hurtado. Hurtado had a great chance in the added time, taking a Rivero pass to go one on one with Gleeson. However, the keeper won the battle.
Still, the Whitecaps would walk away with the 2-1 victory, and three important points. The 'Caps next host the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.