It was a case of the same old, same old story for Vancouver Whitecaps against Portland Timbers on Sunday. Another understrength side headed to BC Place and another disappointing home game would be the conclusion for the ‘Caps as they dropped a 2-1 result to a depleted Portland side missing a number of regulars due to injury, suspension, and international duty, travelling north with a squad of 16 players, including two USL call-ups.
Andrew Jacobson would be the lone ‘Caps scorer, sandwiched between the opening goal by rookie Jeremy Ebobisse and the winner at the start of the second half by Sebastian Blanco.
It would be the shorthanded Timbers who got the critical first goal of the game in the 14th minute when Dairon Asprilla sent the ball into the box, which was redirected by the outstretched leg of a wide open Ebobisse eight yards out, caused by four ‘Caps trying to close down Blanco on the edge of the box.
The Whitecaps had their chances for the remainder of the half with the best ones coming in the final ten minutes.
Fredy Montero beat Jake Gleeson to an over the top ball in the box, but couldn’t poke it enough to get it over the line before the danger was cleared by a Timbers defender. Then as the ‘Caps pushed for the leveller, Gleeson pulled off a great save to keep out a Tony Tchani header.
But the Caps equalised from the resultant corner, which was sent in by Christian Bolanos, headed goalwards by Tim Parker and put over the line from a yard out by Jacobson.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) July 23, 2017
You felt the goal would now spur the ‘Caps on to a dominant second half performance and the victory, but that started just as poorly for the ‘Caps as the first, with Blanco finishing a neat back heel pass from Ebobisse to give the visitors their second lead of the match. And it was a lead they weren’t to give up.
The remainder of the match saw the Whitecaps get enough quality opportunities to tie the match but Gleeson preserved the three points with a couple of big saves, the best coming off a point blank shot from substitute Brek Shea.
In the end Vancouver’s performance was nowhere near enough, with the Whitecaps dropping another home match and their second loss of the season to their Cascadian rivals.
The surrendering of three points sees Portland leapfrog over Vancouver into fourth place in the standings, ahead by three points but with the ‘Caps having three games in hand. Vancouver will now say goodbye to BC Place for a month as they head onto the road for three straight games with the first coming against FC Dallas next weekend. It’s a tough trip ahead and one they now face in make-up mode.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 2 Portland Timbers
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jake Nerwinski, Andrew Jacobson, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Tony Tchani (Alphonso Davies 64), Cristian Techera, Nicolas Mezquida (Yordy Reyna 60), Christian Bolanos; Fredy Montero (Brek Shea 74) [Subs Not Used: Spencer Richey, Marcel de Jong, Russell Teibert, Bernie Ibini]
PORTLAND: Jake Gleeson; Zalek Valentin, Lawrence Olum, Larrys Mabiala, Roy Miller; Diego Chara, Ben Zamanski, Dairon Asprilla (Harold Hanson 89), Diego Valeri, Sebastian Blanco; Jeremy Ebobisse (Jack Barmby 78) [Subs Not Used: Jeff Attinela, Rannico Clarke, Augustine Williams]
Thoughts on the match:
“Disappointed, obviously losing a rivalry game. I think first half we played very well, exceptionally well. We got the equalizer just before halftime. I don’t think it was probably a fair reflection of the first half, I thought we were the better team. Second half, it was always going to come down to a mistake, a wonder goal, or something like that, and when you give a good team like Portland the lead five or ten minutes into the second half, it’s very difficult. You’ve got to give them credit, so I will give them a lot of credit today because they managed to hang on. Their keeper came up with one or two big saves as well. But it hurts.”
On the two goals conceded:
“Listen, very poor. I think two very poor goals. That’s the thing as a coach, you play on Wednesday and we do every little duty correctly, individually and collectively, then we play three or four days later and it seems it’s not your day. I had a feeling like that as the game went on that it might not be our day. As I said, you can’t give good teams leads, or goals, and we did unfortunately.”
What was said to Caleb Porter after the game?:
“I just said congratulations to him. That was it.”
Did Porter take offence at something Robbo said?
“Maybe. Maybe. Maybe you should ask him. I know their staff very well. All great guys, so, no.”
On trying to find a tying goal:
“We had to make adjustments because we were chasing the game and we wanted a goal. We went to midfield player and we put Yordy [Reyna] and Alphonso [Davies] in the central areas. I thought when they got the goal, they sat in. They’ve got a big back four with Roy [Miller] and Zarek [Valentin], who arguably are centre backs as well. So we wanted to put a presence up there, so it was what do we do? Do we put Bernie [Ibini] on, do we put Brek [Shea] on? We put Brek on and Brek run the channels, which was great, and he also could have scored. So it was the right thing to do at the right time to try and get a bit of impetus, but as I said, it wasn’t our day.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It’s always a bad thing to drop three points at home. We’re very disappointed. We’ve just kind of got to bounce back after this. We go away for three weeks, hopefully we can get some points on the road to make up for that loss.”
On the two conceded goals:
“I think both of them [the goals] were pretty bad. You don’t want to give up a goal on a restart – off the corner. The second one was just a bit unfortunate. Took a bad touch right to the other team, he played a good ball and it
was a good finish. But still unfortunate.”
On the match being different if ‘Caps scored first:
“It’s always a good thing to go up 1-0. But I thought getting that goal in stoppage time in the first half was huge. We had the momentum going into the second half, but we couldn’t finish that off.”
On if the team took Portland lightly:
“I don’t think so. I really don’t. We were talking about that, making sure we weren’t going to do
that and I think they came out with a lot of heart. These games, they’re always going to. It just didn’t fall our way this time. We had a lot of chances. I think their goalie came up huge three or four times. You know, goal line saves, so it just wasn’t our day.”
On what the ‘Caps need to work on:
“I think we just can’t give up soft goals. That’s what it was. Two soft goals and they punished us for it. We only had one goal. We had a lot of chances, but we just couldn’t finish.”
On his confidence:
“I’m still fighting to get on that field every day in training. Sheanon [Williams] is a great player and he’s a good person to look up to too. He’s been helping me out. It’s still a fight every day to get on the field. So I’m not comfortable in my spot at all and that’s what Robbo wants. He wants me to fight and to bring out the best in each other.”
Thoughts on the match:
“I think frustrating is a good word for it. We weren’t good enough, simple as that today. I thought we lacked composure on the ball in the final third. I thought we lacked what got us the win on Wednesday, that defensive side of the ball, but there’s nothing more to do now than get back onto it.”
On if the team took Portland lightly:
“I hope not. I surely didn’t. I think Portland deserve respect no matter who they come with. They’ve got good players. Anytime you put a Valeri, Blanco, or Chara out there you can’t take anybody lightly and hopefully nobody did.”
On the build up to both goals:
“What we did well on Wednesday of being defensively sound and marking people, we didn’t do tonight, and when you leave these guys with those kind of opportunities and make mistakes like that defensively you can’t expect to win.”
On the first few minutes of the second half:
“We weren’t good enough. I think we lacked energy tonight. We lacked that little bit of spark, which I don’t understand, especially in the Cascadia Cup. It’s frustrating, especially in front of our fans, not to perform better in a period where I think we’ve played well.”
On the performance:
“This was one of those moments that remind you as a coach of why you roll up your sleeves and go to war every single day. There have been a lot of bullets flying everywhere, and we brought that on ourselves, but some of it has been just really unlucky with the some of the injuries and the adversity that we’ve had. I said to the guys all week and I reminded them before the game that when it’s easy, it’s easy to do things right, and it’s easy to go out and be confident and play well. It’s not easy when results aren’t going your way, it’s not easy when you have a thin roster, it’s not easy when you’re playing different roles than you’ve played. But the true professionals, the guys with character – which I know I have a locker room full of them, which is why I picked them – I knew that I would see the best out of them, I’d see their best character. I felt we were deserved winners, I felt our mentality was excellent for the 90 minutes. We started well and scored the goal, and we responded well after giving up the goal. You can see we had great belief all game long, which isn’t easy with a group of guys that haven’t played together. From that standpoint, mentality wise, excellent. I thought organizationally, we were spot on. I thought defensively, we really played well, team defending. And I thought in the attack, we were the team that was looking always to be dangerous and running at their back four, even late. I thought we had the better mentality, I thought we were the better team on both sides of the ball, and I thought we were deserved winners today.”
On Jeremy Ebobisse:
“It’s exciting. We want young players coming through here, and we thought he had a lot of talent when we drafted him. We’ve seen a lot of flashes from him in training. Even though this moment he’s kind of third behind two very good strikers in [Fanendo] Adi and [Darren] Mattocks, we had a lot of confidence in him. We crafted somewhat of an attacking plan around him, where we were looking to play behind a bit more, and he set up the second goal and scored the first goal. So he showed a lot of promise, and that’s exciting for him and for the club moving forward to know we have a young kind of horse in the stable that is going to continue to get better. He showed a lot of confidence today.”
On what this does for the team’s confidence:
“Well it’s big. Anytime you haven’t gotten results – and we’ve gotten some draws that were good draws, so you can’t forget that even though it’s a winless streak, and you’ve got to remind yourself that we’ve had some good results even though we weren’t getting three points. But it breaks down to cycle, because you don’t want that cycle to continue. The more it builds, the more pressure comes and it makes it more and more difficult. But for our guys to come on the road and play as well as they did, with the guys that we had – seven, eight starters out, different
guys in, really no training chemistry – for them to do that, it says a lot about the character of the team.”
What was said between him and Carl Robinson at the end of the match:
“That’s been Carl and I. Obviously we shook a hand, and there was a comment, and I didn’t care for it.”
On Timbers struggles:
“We’ve been tested a lot. We literally had to – I’m sure everyone saw we had to call up young guys cause we didn’t have enough guys that were healthy. You know that’s a credit to Harold [Hanson] coming on, a guy who’s just turned 18. He couldn’t even drive past 11 three weeks ago and he’s come on to help us secure three points. And you know, massive to all the guys who step up in these positions, and you know it’s a credit to the coaching staff for putting that together, but ultimately as players we need to take care of business. You know, we didn’t last week, but we did tonight and we’re going to enjoy it, but know that Houston’s a good team and especially they’re good at home. You can check out their record. So we’ve got to bring it in a week’s time – actually less than a week.”
On team confidence after the win:
“It’s everything. Obviously we know that we can do that. It’s just a matter of putting in consistent performances and obviously we had to look ourselves in the eye last week. It was not good enough. Even with eight, 10 men, regardless of the referee, it wasn’t good enough. You know, we had a long hard look at ourselves in the mirror and we held each other accountable. It’s great for the confidence but again, one win isn’t enough. We need to do it consistently and we need get one next week. And we need to string these together cause the playoffs are coming quicker than everyone realizes.”
On maintaining belief in getting a result despite negative press:
“I think we have a really tight locker room. It’s one of the tightest I’ve been in. You know, guys have each other’s backs on and off the field. We genuinely care about each other. When you can have honest conversations in the locker room about what needs to be better, that pushes the team forward. A lot of the time, I’ve seen in the past some players won’t necessarily make their opinions public and they won’t hold players accountable when they should be and I think this locker room has that. We did have such a terrible game last week. It was awful. And to come back and respond the way we did is a testament to the team and the coaching staff that put us in a good spot. But ultimately what’s this result if we don’t get a win in Houston. Tough place to play. Everyone knows the heat and the humidity. But at the end of the day if we put in a similar performance like I said earlier this week, it’s going to be tough to get points against this team.”
On adversity of missing players:
“It was a very important game to win because Vancouver is a direct rival for a playoff position and because we were just coming off a very tough loss. We knew that the important players had to step up and assume a greater responsibility and we were able to pull off a result like this one that for the confidence means a lot.”
On chemistry between Ebobisse and Blanco on the second goal:
“I got a bit of luck because the ball bounced off the other player but after that he was able to get a good position and thankfully he was able to find the back of the net. The match Jeremy played makes me very happy because he’s a kid who has been working very hard and it’s very important for us to have him at 100 per cent health because we need him.”