Whitecaps Escape Portland With 3 Points

Another day, another Cascadia classic! My heart rate still hasn’t completely returned to normal after Sunday nights 90 minutes of end to end action between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers.

The most frustrating thing about being a loyal fan of the Whitecaps is that almost every week we have a Goal of the Year candidate scored against us. Sunday’s game in Portland was no different as Portland’s Maximiliano Urruti opened the scoring in the 3rd minute with a jaw dropping strike.

Credit to Vancouver’s young team for they did not lose heart. They continued to press the Timbers with their blistering speed which gave Portland a headache all night long. In the 16th minute Erik Hurtado was brought down in the box by Kah and Pedro Morales brought his team level from the spot.

Shortly after, speed earned the Whitecaps their second penalty of the game for a foul on Fernandez which I thought was very soft. If anything the spot kick should have been given for the foul on Manneh seconds before which referee Ken Stott didn’t call. Morales punished the Timbers from the spot again and Vancouver suddenly found itself in front.

Portland pushed hard and were nearly rewarded a PK of their own but upon close examination of the play I’m very confident in saying that Valeri’s boot got caught in the turf and Matias Laba won the ball cleanly.

Pedro Morales continued to show why he is one of, if not the best midfielder in MLS. He nearly got a hat-trick but sprayed his shot wide. At the end of the first half Morales sent in a low hard pass into the box and Erik Hurtado latched onto it. His shot was saved by Donovan Ricketts but the rebound hit Hurtado and ended it up in the net.

Early in the second half Morales sent a cross field pass to the boot of a streaking Jordan Harvey who slotted the ball past a diving Ricketts to give the visitors a 4-1 lead. After this Vancouver defended too deep in their half and the Timbers made the game interesting by scoring two more goals. The last few minutes of the game made my hair grey but Vancouver’s defence withheld the onslaught to emerge with a 4-3 victory.

After three seasons of being a terrible road team the Whitecaps have now won two on the road this year. The Whitecaps are finally playing on the road the way they play at home and it is paying off. In their first three seasons in MLS, the Whitecaps would park the bus and waste time by booting the ball up the pitch.

It took Carl Robinson a few months to work that out of their system but I am noticing a steady improvement. This is excellent because to succeed in MLS you need to be able to collect points on the road. It’s the difference between the men and the boys when comparing MLS teams.

The Good:
Pedro Morales, I honestly can’t say enough good things about this guy. Carl Robinson has signed the best ever DP in Whitecaps history. Crosses that land at the feet of their target. Tricky one-two combinations on the wing and deadly from the penalty spot. Morales drew hate from Timbers fans all game long as he repeatedly drew fouls. Whether you believe they were earned or not is irrelevant. His experience in La Liga means he knows when to draw contact and when to pass. The one thing I want to see more from him is his willingness to shoot from the top of the box.

The Ugly:
Whitecaps winger Sebastian Fernandez disgraced himself as he appeared to fake being hit in the face by Kah. Fernandez is talented but he needs to stop these kinds of antics. I expect him to be fined for this play. After the game, Timbers owner Merritt Paulson reportedly got into an argument with referees as they left the pitch. No doubt the MLS will look into this as well. Welcome to Cascadia!