Vancouver Whitecaps FC took their bow in the preseason Cascadia Summit on Saturday, and supporters of the Blue and White will have taken positives from their team's performance in Tukwila, Washington.
It was a motivated Portland Timbers side that the 'Caps faced at Starfire Sports Stadium, with John Spencer's outfit still buzzing from Friday's impressive 2-0 win over Summit hosts Seattle Sounders FC.
The first quarter of an hour made for unsettling viewing, especially after the Timbers' Ryan Pore had given Portland an early lead. Yet, slowly but surely, Whitecaps FC grew into this latest Pacific Northwest derby contest and created enough chances to have their own players on the scoresheet. Instead, it was Portland's unlucky David Horst that found his own net for Vancouver's only goal of the game.
Only the width of a post kept the 'Caps from scoring again on Saturday, with Atiba Harris going ever so close to capping a solid performance when he hit the woodwork in the first half. "I thought we were a bit flat in the first few minutes of the game, but we gained control of the match and created some chances," the striker said to reporters. "We did some good things today that I hope we can take into Sunday's match with Seattle."
And while the 'Caps created chances, they also limited Portland to a handful of opportunities after their early goal. Leading that defensive rearguard for Teitur Thordarson's side was a very experienced back four of Jonathan Leathers, Greg Janicki, Jay DeMerit, and Alain Rochat. A further boost was the performance of substitute goalkeeper Joe Cannon, who made a couple of key stops after replacing Jay Nolly in the second half. "For the most part, I thought we kept things pretty tight at the back," said Janicki. "Jay (DeMerit) and I are starting to form a good partnership together. Hopefully, this will help form the basis of a solid defensive backline this season."
As is custom with Cascadia derby games, the Timbers match was a competitive contest, with both teams relishing the added edge that comes with a regional rivalry. "Today's game was fun to play, even though it was a bit heated at times," admitted Janicki.
Whitecaps FC return to action on Sunday afternoon when they face Sounders FC in Cascadia Summit finale.