Report and Reaction: 10-man Whitecaps press self destruct button in derby loss to Timbers

Report and Reaction: 10-man Whitecaps press self destruct button in derby loss to Timbers

Portland Timbers extended their unbeaten run to six matches as a 10-man Vancouver Whitecaps hit the self destruct button at Providence Park, going down to a 2-0 defeat and playing most of the second half a man down.

First half goals from Jonathan Rodriguez and Felipe Mora had put the Whitecaps in a deep hole, both coming from defensive misplays. Alessandro Schopf’s sending off eight minutes into the second half made their plight even worse, and although the 10 men managed not to concede any more goals, they also never looked likely to get themselves back into the match and it was a comfortable derby day win for the home side.

Vancouver fell to back-to-back defeats since returning from the international break. Worrying enough, but more so is their descent down the Western Conference standings, where they now sit in ninth position, just hanging on above the playoff line.

After last week’s narrow loss in New England, Vanni Sartini went with some big changes, five in total in his 3-5-2 line-up. White and Damir Kreilach both dropped to the bench with Mathias Laborda slotting into an unfamiliar defensive midfielder role in front of the back three.

Vancouver started lively and had their first chance of the game eight minutes in when Sebastian Berhalter sent a lovely cross in from the right, which Giuseppe Bovalina flashed wide after letting it bounce up awkwardly off the turf.

The ‘Caps were having some early success on that right side with Berhalter and he whipped another good cross into the Timbers box two minutes later, which Fafa Picault met with a diving header, but another unfavourable bounce up couldn’t see him direct his effort on target.

Portland had their best chance so far in the 23rd minute when Mora played a short pass inside to Evander on the edge of the ‘Caps six-yard box, but Javain Brown nipped in with a huge block to avert the danger.

Spurred on by that, the home side forced a couple of saves from Yohei Takaoka at his near post in the subsequent minutes.

Unfortunately for Brown, his good challenge from moments earlier was negated when the Jamaican had an air swipe at a diagonal cross in from Evander and the ball fell perfectly to Rodriguez, who calmly nipped in on goal and tucked it past Takaoka into the far corner.

It had been a quick counter from the Timbers, who went from just inside their own box to the back of the Whitecaps’ net in just four passes.

The Whitecaps were enjoying some good possession and continuing to cause problems for the Timbers up the right wing, but without the telling crosses in to create real goalscoring opportunities.

Takaoka had to be called into action again in the 37th minute, when he punched away a Santiago Moreno effort from just over 20 yards out.

Vancouver responded with a long range effort of their own from Alessandro Schopf, but he didn’t have the power needed to test James Pantemis.

Portland doubled their lead two minutes before the break. Capitalizing on a poor giveaway from Picault, Moreno threaded the ball through perfectly for Mora to run on to. The Chilean took a touch to make room for himself to blast the ball past Takaoka into the bottom left corner and the Timbers were in total command of this Cascadian derby.

The ‘Caps managed to hang on to half time, despite some strong pressure from the home side, and got a chance to regroup and reorganize. That reorganization saw a double sub from Sartini to start the second half with White and Ryan Raposo coming on.

Any boost the Whitecaps hoped to get from the new legs soon came crashing to a halt when Schopf got a second yellow for a stupid pullback in the 53rd minute and the ‘Caps now found themselves two goals down and a man down.

While not wanting to just play for damage limitation, the Whitecaps were struggling to get much attack going, while the Timbers were moving the ball around with ease, utilizing the extra space they now had.

Portland came close to making it three on the hour mark after some quick movement saw Juan Mosquera set up Moreno, but Takaoka came up with the save.

Vancouver’s night went from back to worse when half time sub White had to be replaced after taking an elbow to the side of the head with just under 20 minutes to go. White was down on the turf for a while and left the field bleeding, heading straight to the dressing room after consulting the medical staff on the sideline.

Replaced by Kreilach, the Whitecaps did look more attack minded in the last 15 minutes of the match, without really putting the Timbers defence or Pantemis under too much pressure.

Portland had also been removed as much of an attacking threat and the match fizzled out, leaving the Timbers with three big points that saw them leapfrog over the Whitecaps to sixth in the standings, as Vancouver fell to ninth and looking over their shoulder at the chasing playoff pack.

Vancouver finish the weekend level on points with Seattle, who sit in 10th. With a tough home game coming up, while now missing arguably their best midfield four, followed by a grueling four-game road stretch in league and cup action, the Whitecaps don’t have their troubles to seek. They are simply not looking on a par with the sides in and around them in the table and with no reinforcements able to come in for a few weeks yet, we could be looking at a stretch of matches that could define the team’s season and their manager’s future.

FINAL SCORE: Portland Timbers 2 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps

ATT: 22,471

26’ – POR – Jonathan Rodríguez (Evander, Felipe Mora)
43’ – POR – Felipe Mora (Santiago Moreno)

Possession: POR 57.8% – VAN 42.2%
Shots: POR 13 – VAN 7
Shots on Goal: POR 7 – VAN 1
Saves: POR 1 – VAN 5
Fouls: POR 11 – VAN 11
Offsides: POR 1 – VAN 4
Corners: POR 1 – VAN 4

34’ – VAN – Alessandro Schöpf
39’ – VAN – Tristan Blackmon
52’ – VAN – Alessandro Schöpf
60’ – VAN – Sebastian Berhalter

52’ – VAN – Alessandro Schöpf

PORTLAND: James Pantemis; Juan Mosquera, Zac McGraw, Dario Župarić, Claudio Bravo; Diego Chará, David Ayala (Cristhian Paredes 64’); Santiago Moreno (Dairon Asprilla 87’), Evander (Eryk Williamson 87’), Jonathan Rodríguez (Nathan Fogaça 87’); Felipe Mora (Antony 77’) [Substitutes not used: Trey Muse, Eric Miller, Larrys Mabiala]

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Javain Brown (Luís Martins 64’), Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon; Mathías Laborda (Levonte Johnson 77’); Sebastian Berhalter, Pedro Vite, Alessandro Schöpf, Giuseppe Bovalina (Ryan Raposo 46′); Fafa Picault (Brian White 46′) (Damir Kreilach 73’), Ryan Gauld [Substitutes not used: Joe Bendik, Isaac Boehmer, Ralph Priso, Bjørn Inge Utvik]




On his team’s performance in the first half:

“I think that we started very well. We were winning the ball high, we were playing the game that you want to play, being very aggressive on the wide side and trying to attack them in behind. We had several chances, those two [early] chances, we were doing well. We had, unfortunately, an easy ball that to clear, unfortunately, Javain [Brown] made a mistake, but that can happen, and we concede the goal and then I didn’t like the next 10 minutes. From the first goal to the end of the first half, I actually really didn’t like it because we kind of became flat. Even though we played well at the beginning, we started to be very, very, I would say even scared. The wide players weren’t pressing that much, the number eights weren’t pressing that much, it was easy for them to get the ball. We were defending well in our final third, but then we weren’t doing anything.”

On takeaway from the match:

“The most important thing is trying to be more confident in ourselves. That’s the word, that’s the big word because after the first goal, the tactical transformation of the team that became a team that was all behind and no one was trying to press, it was something that we need to improve on for sure.”


On the positives from the second half performance:

“I think that, when you look at the effort in the second half, I think it was there from every single guy. Even with ten men, I think we stuck together as a group. You want to win the game, so it can be frustrating but everyone stuck together and that’s a good sign. I know we’re a good group of guys and we’ll be ok.”



Opening thoughts on the match…

“The second half felt really long and a little bit labored. I said something to [the players] that I’m super super happy with the way that they played everything, but there was a 20-minute period in the first half when I just sat down and just thought ‘this is really good football. This is exactly what I want to see from a Portland Timbers team.’ High press, high aggression, taking the ball, keeping possession of the ball, dynamic in every movement. But that was just the 20 minutes. There was a 15-minute period that started the game and [Vancouver] broke. They had some chances, they counter attacked — which we knew they would. Then there’s the second half where I felt we just turned into a little bit — natural down to 10 men — of individuality, didn’t stick to the game plan. So I always think after wins, I’m looking for perfection. I know I’m not going to get perfection, but if we get just below that, we’re still gonna get excellence. I think that’s the way that we’ve got to keep pushing this group of players. We’re just gonna keep pushing them and I’m happy we took a little leap in the table. Next week we’ve got Minnesota, who are having a fantastic season and I feel as if the team are just beginning to believe. I felt the crowd believe tonight. There’s a good feeling which we want to keep going and there’s a long way to go.”

On if tonight was a convincing, dominant win…

“I think it probably was dominant, but I think the score line wasn’t dominated. If it had been three, four [goals ahead] it would have been dominant and that’s my disappointment. I said to Evander that it’s a game where you probably missed an opportunity to score. Jonathan [Rodríguez] to score two goals. You know, these are games where you’ve got to be really ruthless. That’s what the best teams do. You look at maybe the best team in the Western Conference for the last two or three years, LAFC would have won that by four today. That’s the next step for this team and not just get careless in possession. What we’re learning and they’re beginning to understand me and I’m beginning to understand them and we’re coming together even closer. It was a comfortable victory against a good team and it’s a nice feeling.”

On the importance of the Cascadia rivalry and getting three points against Vancouver…

“I think aside from the MLS three points, I think the Cascadia three points are massive. We’ve not turned up in the previous two [matches] probably. Maybe for 20 minutes up in Vancouver, we did, but against Seattle at home we didn’t turn up and we let the fans down. I know the importance of this game to the supporters. You can see at the end they were celebrating. They really, really love this Cascadia [rivalry]. They tell me that it’s more important than winning MLS. You know what I mean? And I think it’s a really good discussion to have. But I think tonight was a victory for them.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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