In a season which has had its share of disappointments as the Whitecaps failed to show up and were beaten soundly by the Portland Timbers 2-1, a scoreline which flattered the visitors. Like most of the games this season the Whitecaps were disorganized at the back and failed to show creativity moving forward. The Timbers were helped by two first half goals by Colombians Jorge Perlaza and Diego Chara while the Caps were able to salvage a late score by Camilo.
The game couldn’t have started out worse for the Whitecaps as they were caught flat and Portland’s young designated player Chara volleyed a shot past Cannon within the first five minutes. The Timbers continued to press and collect quality chances while the Whitecaps whipped in crosses that were easily cleared out of the box. Portland doubled their lead off a corner as Perlaza caught a couple of Vancouver defenders looking at the ball in the box and deposited in the back of the net. Another great run by the two Colombians almost gave the Timbers a three goal lead into the half but the two goal lead would stand into halftime.
The Whitecaps started with decent possession of the ball but almost fell three down as Kalif Alhassan had his try on goal hit the woodwork. With Mustapha Jarju entering the match the Whitecaps pushed forward for that first goal but all of their chances were either weak attempts or just wide of the goal. Vancouver finally broke through in the 88th minute as Camilo was sent into the box, made a great turn, and clinically finished to the far post to pull within one. Unfortunately there was little desperation shown by the Whitecaps to find the equalizer as they failed to generate a quality chance in the remaining five minutes.
For the first meeting between the two long-time rivals in MLS, there were far too many passengers in the starting eleven. In fact Jason DeVos of the broadcast team noted that if the players were unable to get up for a derby match then those players should question whether they should be playing soccer. Not showing up for for an important match like this one shows a lack of commitment to the club and supporters and display a lack of pride in their game.
It was again the backline that caused the majority of the problems as Boxall was not quick enough to close on Chara and Brovsky was a spectator on the second goal. The blame on the play of the backline ultimately must fall on the two veterans Jay DeMerit and Joe Cannon as they failed to keep the backline, consisting of two rookies, organized for the majority of the match. While there was more than enough reason to sit Leathers after his performance the previous week, there must be questions asked if it was wise to start two rookie defenders in an important derby match.
It was another frustrating match going forward for the Whitecaps, blanked for the second straight game, as the midfielders once again failed to create and service the ball into the final third. It improved slightly when designated player Mustapha Jarju entered the game but the lack of service clearly frustrated Hassli who left straight for the locker room after being substituted late in the game. The only goal by the Whitecaps was another great individual effort by Camilo who created his own chance after receiving a pass into the box.
The Timbers still need to visit Vancouver but after the first head to head matchup it is clear that Portland have built a side that displays more grit, skill and work ethic. There are just so many lessons that can be learned from these losses before the fingers are pointed to the person who is delivering the message. The Whitecaps have another week to go back to the drawing board as they return to Empire next week to host the Houston Dynamo.