VANCOUVER, BC – On another scorching evening in Portland, Whitecaps FC 2 (6W-9L-5D) battled valiantly but came up short in a 4-2 defeat to Timbers 2 (7W-9L-2D) at Merlo Field.
Wearing the captain’s armband, Robert Earnshaw opened the scoring in the eighth minute, scoring on a penalty kick after he was clipped in the box by Steven Evans. It was the Welshman’s third goal against Cascadia competition this season, including his first USL goal against Sounders FC 2 in April and his lone MLS tally against Portland Timbers in a dramatic 2-1 win at BC Place in March.
But the home side would respond. Timbers 2 leading scorer Kharlton Belmar tied the match at 1-1 in the 18th minute, flying in to head home a cross from Argentine Santiago Biglieri.
Timbers 2 then took the lead in the 29th minute. Fatawu Safiu was at it again against WFC2 after scoring a cracker last weekend at Thunderbird Stadium. This time the Ghanaian cut in from the left and blasted a low strike into the far corner to put T2 up 2-1.
The ‘Caps were intent on finding an equalizer and had a pair of close calls before the end of the half. Earnshaw again found the back of the net, finishing a Marco Bustos corner that was headed towards net by substitute Craig Nitti, who had replaced an injured Chris Serban on the back line. But the flag was up for offside.
Moments later, Kianz Froese bullied his way through a trio of Timbers 2 defenders before unleashing a curling strike that just missed the far post. Despite having momentum on their side, the boys in white went into the break down a goal.
The ‘Caps continued where they left off to start the second half. On 48 minutes, a free kick whipped in by Deybi Flores was headed off the post by Nitti. Hurtado got to the rebound first, but his follow-up shot was stopped by T2 goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.
Momentum swung back the way of the home team on 52 minutes. A swerving strike from T2 captain Blair Gavin struck the crossbar, which was followed by a Biglieri rebound on target that was cleared off the line by Flores. Timbers 2 would not be denied though as George Fochive finally struck a third attempt for T2 into the back of the net for a 3-1 lead.
Gavin again tried his luck in the 70th minute, but this time Paulo Tornaghi came up with a big diving save.
Three minutes later the ‘Caps were back on the attack. After Ben McKendry was taken down no more than an inch outside the box, Froese stepped up to take the free kick and placed it over the wall towards the top corner. Unfortunately for the visitors the effort was snagged by a leaping Gleeson.
Active all night, Froese would not be denied a goal. On 78 minutes, substitute Victor Blasco did well to whip in a great cross to the far side of the box. Froese got on the end of it, took a touch, and struck a beautifully placed shot into the opposite corner to cut the deficit to 3-2 with 12 minutes to go.
WFC2 pressed to level the match in the following minutes. First Blasco dribbled through the box and forced a save from Gleeson. Seconds later, McKendry found Billy Schuler in the box, only to see his toe poke bounce agonizingly wide.
Wave after wave of WFC2 attacks were finally countered the other way by T2 in the 87th minute. Belmar broke down the right flank and created a three on one, cutting into the middle of the box before Gavin had the final touch to make it 4-2.
The final whistle put an end to an entertaining affair, leaving WFC2 a point short of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference for the time being.
WFC2 are back at home this coming Friday, July 24 in the first of a home and home series against Tulsa Roughnecks FC. For more ticket information, visit whitecapsfc2.com.
8’ – VAN – Robert Earnshaw (penalty kick)
18’ – POR – Kharlton Belmar (Santiago Biglieri)
29’ – POR – Fatawu Safiu
52’ – POR – George Fochive (Santiago Biglieri)
78’ – VAN – Kianz Froese (Victor Blasco)
87’ – POR – Blair Gavin (Kharlton Belmar)
Shots: Portland 16 – Vancouver 22
Saves: Portland 5 – Vancouver 4
Fouls: Portland 7 – Vancouver 10
Corners: Portland 0 – Vancouver 2
49’ – VAN – Will Seymore
60’ – VAN – Kianz Froese
72’ – POR – Andy Thoma
83’ – VAN – Tyler Rosenlund
Jake Gleeson; 28.Andy Thoma, 20.Taylor Peay, 85.Steven Evans, 15.Jeanderson; 40.Tim Payne, 26.George Fochive, 52.Blair Gavin ©, 73.Santiago Biglieri (84.Seth Caspile 63’), 30.Kharlton Belmar, 49.Fatawu Safiu (38.Matt Rose 88’)
Substitutes not used
29.Justin Luthy; 27.Nick Besler, 35.Anthony Manning, 47.Rennico Clarke, 85.Steven Evans, 97.Terrell Lowe
Whitecaps FC 2
70.Paulo Tornaghi; 55.Chris Serban (54.Craig Nitti 41’) (25.Andre Lewis 85’), 58.Will Seymore, 18.Diego Rodriguez, 27.Ethen Sampson; 30.Ben McKendry, 20.Deybi Flores (45.Tyler Rosenlund 64’); 32.Marco Bustos, 88.Robert Earnshaw © (48.Victor Blasco 64’), 38.Kianz Froese; 19.Erik Hurtado (51.Billy Schuler 64’)
Substitutes not used
24.Marco Carducci; 50.Sahil Sandhu