(Photo Credit: @TimbersFC/Twitter)
Vancouver Whitecaps’ eight match MLS unbeaten run came to an abrupt end in lower Cascadia on Saturday evening as a derby day double from Evander led Portland Timbers to a 3-1 victory at Providence Park.
The Timbers got off to a fast start with a goal from Franck Boli just 77 seconds in and there was no looking back for the home side after that. Evander struck in the 18th and 54th minutes to bring Portland a relatively comfortable three points and while Vancouver showed flashes and flurries they only had a 24th minute own goal from Zac McGraw to show for their efforts on the night.
Vanni Sartini made seven changes to his team from the side that started their midweek Canadian Championship victory at York United. The hope was for some fresh legs to bring the best out of the ‘Caps in some hot and humid conditions in Oregon but they didn’t have time to even settle before the Timbers had the lead.
Claudio Bravo played the ball forward to a wide open Boli, who had time to make room for the shot and drilled the ball past Yohei Takaoka for the opener with just over a minute on the clock.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) May 14, 2023
The ‘Caps almost responded immediately with a flashing header from Pedro Vite, who connected well with a Sergio Cordova cross but his effort was straight at Alijaz Ivacic in the Timbers goal.
Ivacic was called into action again in the 14th minute to keep out an Alessandro Schopf shot and four minutes later they doubled their advantage after a beautiful passing move by the home side.
The Vancouver defence were like statues as Portland played some lovely short passes over the Whitecaps head, ending when Evander volleyed home from close range. A great team goal but absolutely woeful defending from the ‘Caps.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) May 14, 2023
It was starting to look like it was going to be a long night for Vancouver but they suddenly found themselves right back in it in the 24th minute.
Ryan Gauld played a lovely low curling ball for Julian Gressel to run on to and as he played the ball into the box looking for Cordova at the back post MacGraw acrobatically put the ball into his own net and from nothing it was back to being a one goal game.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) May 14, 2023
That goal sparked Vancouver into life and both Gauld and Cordova had chances that went wide, but the Timbers finished the half the strongest when Santiago Moreno’s long range effort was turned away by a diving Takaoka with two minutes of the half remaining.
Sartini made a change at the half, bringing on Simon Becher for Cordova to try and add a youthful spark to his team’s attack, and they came back out on the front foot with Luis Martins trying a long range shot that was saved by Ivacic.
The Timbers restored their two goal advantage in 54th minute and it was a second on the night for Evander and the goal of the game.
Yimmi Chara played the ball inside to the Brazilian who then turned on a dime to get past Andres Cubas before firing low past Takaoka from 20 yards out.
Another one for Evander! 😤
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 14, 2023
Beautiful movement from the Timbers DP and a goal that sank Whitecaps hopes of getting back into this one, as the home side comfortably saw out the rest of the match.
The Whitecaps almost got a second own goal on the evening when Diego Chara’s header had Ivacic scrambling to turn it around his left hand post with 10 minutes to go.
Dairon Asprilla nearly made it four for Portland in stoppage time but his header was straight at Takaoka and that was to be the last real action of the match.
A disappointing, and somewhat toothless, defeat for the Whitecaps, who definitely looked a little out of sorts. It would be easy to say that the exertions of a tough May with cross continent travel and games coming thick and fast have started to catch up with them, but they just didn’t feel like they were at the races in Portland.
A blip hopefully and they finish the evening still in the playoff places in an increasingly tightening Western Conference, but with two more tough games coming up over the next week, at Dallas on Wednesday before returning home to host Seattle, there’s no rest in sight for them and they need to refind their spark very quickly or by this time next week they will find themselves below the playoff line and looking up.
FINAL SCORE: Portland Timbers 3 – 1 Vancouver Whitecaps
2’ – POR – Franck Boli (Claudio Bravo)
18’ – POR – Evander (Juan Mosquera, Santiago Moreno)
24’ – VAN – Zac McGraw (own goal)
54’ – POR – Evander (Yimmi Chará, Claudio Bravo)
Possession: POR 46% – VAN 54%
Shots: POR 13 – VAN 8
Shots on Goal: POR 7 – VAN 4
Saves: POR 5 – VAN 4
Fouls: POR 14 – VAN 11
Offsides: POR 1 – VAN 3
Corners: POR 4 – VAN 7
PORTLAND: Aljaž Ivačič; Juan Mosquera (Eric Miller 84’), Dario Zuparic, Zac McGraw, Claudio Bravo; Diego Chará, Cristhian Paredes; Santiago Moreno (Marvin Loría 84’), Evander (Larrys Mabiala 90’+2’). Yimmi Chará (Dairon Asprilla 64’); Franck Boli (Jaroslaw Niezgoda 64’)
[Substitutes not used: David Bingham, Sebastián Blanco, Noel Caliskan, Nathan Fogaça]
VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown (Ryan Raposo 83’), Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon, Luís Martins (Déiber Caicedo 76’); Julian Gressel, Andrés Cubas (Sebastian Berhalter 83’), Alessandro Schöpf (Ali Ahmed 64’); Pedro Vite; Sergio Córdova (Simon Becher ‘), Ryan Gauld [Substitutes not used: Thomas Hasal, Mathías Laborda, Karifa Yao, Russell Teibert]
On the match:
“I think we deserved to lose, so really fair and square. I think that the Timbers came on the game readier than us, if you ask me why I don’t know. Of course we can say ‘Ok we had to fly back, we are a little tired.’ But then at the end, actually we did 70 minutes after the first horrible 20 minutes I would say, where we’re kind of okay. I think we were a little bit too rushed into everything. Our strength is the possession, being patience with our defence, going left to right and then finding the space. We wanted every time to play the ball inside. And at the first attempt and helping them actually, their defence winning the ball. We had actually a good spell in the second part of the first half where we were calm we played more wide with the fullback, we had more crosses, and in fact the goal came from there. Unfortunately the 3-1, yeah, we could have done much better defensively to be honest, in the second and the third goal, to be honest, yes, the first one we actually gave the ball to them and that can happen. So yeah, hopefully, all these mistakes arrived together and we can reset and go for Dallas and do a better performance.”
On getting back into the rhythm with the schedule:
“We want to get back immediately and try to score points. You know, every game is very important here. We know that every game is tight and it’s going to be extremely hard because they play at home so they rest, they don’t travel, and we will have to really analyze very well Monday, Tuesday at training and try to be better, try to be much better.”
On the match:
“I mean, tough to go down early. Obviously one minute in, down 1-0 we’re on the road especially that’s not really what you want. I thought we were a little bit flat in the beginning, maybe where you can tell they came out a little bit with more energy than us which I don’t really know why, at the moment, so short after the game. I think we grew into the game, obviously, even going down 2-0, we didn’t stop, we continued to play. We knew there was a long time to play still. We get one back and you’re certainly in the game at halftime. We felt like ‘okay, if we maybe don’t concede a third one that we were maybe going to knick one and get out of here with a point, be able to be dangerous like we were in the first half even at times to maybe score. But today for some reason, we didn’t have the quality. I think our touch let us down sometimes and we couldn’t get on the end of things in the final third and it was just one of those nights where it didn’t really go our way and we’ve got to analyze that and then see where where things went wrong and hopefully change that obviously with a quick turnaround for Wednesday.”
On Sergio Córdova’s first start since his injury:
“I don’t think we’ve seen the real Sergio yet. I think this is like you said, his first 45 minutes in a while and he hasn’t really trained with us. I don’t know if he was supposed to start. I think we kind of got shifted into that a little bit with Brian [White] being out. Sergio can add something to our front group, that is a little bit different, I think and that obviously, another weapon that we’ll have. I think today, maybe he plays a little bit longer or he’s training a little bit longer, maybe he gets at the end of one and maybe can finish one. But those are the little things I think that will come over time and we’ve got to give him a little bit of time. I know he’s obviously been in here without really a preseason and middle of the season and it was a difficult situation, then got hurt and now he’s kind of just really getting going. So we’ve got to give him a little bit more time, but, you know, again, I think he brings a lot of quality up there that we can certainly use when he’s going to be up there and one hundred percent.”