What we learned vs. Portland Timbers

The 'Caps are becoming road warriors, says Carl Valentine

TWO ONE - David Ousted save

Photo Credit: 
USA Today Sports Images

Our ‘Caps picked up their first-ever win over Portland Timbers in Major League Soccer on Sunday night in an absolutely thrilling Cascadia derby.

After going down early, the ‘Caps responded with four straight goals before the Timbers stormed back in the final minutes and made a game out of it. But in the end, Whitecaps FC held on for a 4-3 road win.

So, what did we learn?

Road warriors

Highlights: Portland Timbers 3-4 Vancouver Whitecaps FC

A 2W-1L-3D record on the road, including back-to-back wins, would make you think you’re looking at one of the top teams in MLS. And you might just be.

Our performances on the road have gradually improved this season. We started with a pair of scrappy performances against Chivas USA and New England. At the time, Carl Robinson and his technical staff preached patience. Establishing a winning mentality on the road would take time, they said.

Now, we’re seeing the results of that process.

In our loss against LA Galaxy and draw with Real Salt Lake, we saw glimpses of what the ‘Caps could do away from home. Then came a great performance in Columbus and a repeat performance Sunday night in Portland – one of the toughest places to play in MLS. Heading into Sunday’s match, the Timbers hadn’t lost a game at home in 22 regular season matches.

The way the ‘Caps are playing on the road has to have us all excited about how good this team can be. Robinson has said that he wants his team to play the same way on the road as they do at home and they certainly have done that in the last two games.

Robinson’s side took 23 shots against Portland and 11 of them were on target, which speaks volumes to how the team approached this match. After a slow start, you have to be impressed with how the boys responded to score four straight goals.

The fourth goal, in particular, was impressive to me because it would have been easy for Whitecaps FC to sit back in the second half after taking a 3-1 lead. Of course, the Timbers stormed back and you have to give them credit for that. There’s a reason why they hadn’t lost at home in over a year.

Yes, I would say we are becoming road warriors.

Coming up big

Ousted adjusts mid-dive to save the deflected shot

It’s rare to single out a goalkeeper – in a positive manner, that is – in a game that saw him concede three goals. But when you look back early in the match with the ‘Caps already down 1-0, Ousted stepped up and made a key save on Will Johnson.

And as our boys were clinging to a lead late in the game, the Dane came up with a few more fantastic saves to preserve the win for his team. 

As we all know, Robinson wants his team to play an exciting, attacking style while still winning games. As he said last week, getting the balance right is the tricky party – as we saw again against the Timbers.

While they find that balance, they’re going to need some more games like this from Mr. Ousted.

Rivalry renewed

Carl Robinson speaks to reporters after the match

The Cascadia rivalry has been renewed in MLS. It seems the more these teams play, the more heated the rivalry becomes – just how it should be.

The rivalry took a giant step on Sunday night in the latest Cascadia derby between Portland and Vancouver. There was a lot of heat on and off the field, as the players battled all night with some hefty challenges that neither team liked. But to their credit, neither side backed down. 

Off the field, it looked like Robinson and his counterpart Caleb Porter exchanged a few pleasantries as well, though both coaches downplayed the encounter after the match.

This is typical of rivalry games. Emotions are heightened with rival fans in the stands cheering their team on. As the ‘Caps alluded to after the match, they wanted to give their traveling fans bragging rights and something to cheer about. 

And how exciting have the Cascadia games been this year? There were eight goals scored in Portland and Seattle’s encounter, and now a seven-goal thriller on Sunday night.

There’s nothing like a Cascadia derby – I can’t wait for the next one.

It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets ($220), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.