Our boys came away with a hard-earned point Saturday against Portland in what was a physical game. After suffering an early second-half goal, Vancouver Whitecaps FC battled back to claim a 1-1 draw.
So what did we learn?
Passing the test
Highlights: Timbers 1 - 1 Whitecaps FC
In the last couple of games, the ‘Caps have shown they can compete as one of Major League Soccer’s top teams. I know a loss and a draw aren’t exactly glamorous results, but if you look at the performances it’s not hard to see Martin Rennie’s boys competing for the number one position overall.
Against Philadelphia, we played with 10 men for more than 80 minutes and dominated the game. The way we played should have got us three points. This weekend’s game against the Timbers was another test that we passed with flying colors.
Portland came out to try and overrun the ‘Caps players and started the game playing very physical. Our boys stood up to them and took control of the first half, limiting them to a couple long-range shots. We were disciplined and looked well in control except for one lapse on a counter attack that they capitalized on.
This was like a playoff game and we looked like a team full of confidence on the road. Keep in mind we lost Brad Rusin early in the match and were already without a number of starters. If you look at our form at home, our growing confidence on the road, and key players like Jay DeMerit and Andy O’Brien getting closer to a return, why wouldn’t you think we can be number at the season’s end? I know I do.
Sights and sounds from Portland
On my first trip back to Portland since my playing days, I was excited to experience the atmosphere at JELD-WEN Field. Vancouver fans spoiled that for me and I was glad they did.
As I stood there with the many ‘Caps fans in the corner of the stadium, I could not hear anything but our signing and chanting. They never shut up once. A couple of times, I tried to listen to the Portland fans and get an idea of what everybody was talking about, but there was no chance as it was drowned out by our own passionate supporters. As a showing of gratitude for helping to create a better atmosphere in the stadium, some Portland fans even bought their counterparts from Vancouver beers after the game.
Personally, I had a brilliant time signing and chanting with our fans. They have to be congratulated on another fabulous night cheering our boys on.
The full package
Ousted stops a curving Rodney Wallace shot
Some players, like DeMerit, O’Brien, Kenny Miller and Nigel Reo-Coker, just have a presence on the field. It’s hard to explain, but that’s how I felt when David Ousted took his position between the posts.
The way he handles himself and the way he plays fills you with a lot of confidence and I’m sure his teammates feel the same way. The switch must have been tough on Brad Knighton and I’m glad Ousted was brought in when Knighton is still playing well.
But the fact is Ousted was brought in for a reason. It’s not hard to see why the club was so high on him as he looks the full package.