PORTLAND, OR – Newcomer Blas Pérez scored his first goal in a Vancouver Whitecaps FC uniform and Octavio Rivero opened his account for the preseason in an entertaining 2-0 win over Portland Timbers on Wednesday night at Providence Park.
Perez opened the scoring in the 38th minute and Rivero added insurance on a 72nd-minute counter-attack to help the ‘Caps claim their fourth win in five preseason matches. Training camp invitee Paolo Tornaghi and WFC2 goalkeeper Spencer Richey combined for the clean sheet.
The 'Caps are now 4W-1L-0D in the preseason, with one final test to go before First Kick.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made nine changes after Sunday’s Simple Invitational opener – the only two players who started again were Pedro Morales and Kekuta Manneh.
Both teams fielded younger sides for this one.
Notably for Vancouver, Tornaghi got the nod in goal as a camp invitee, newly-signed 15-year-old WFC2 forward Alphonso Davies started on the right wing, and midfielder Kianz Froese partnered with a lively Morales in a 4-2-3-1 formation – and put in a strong, 90-minute shift.
Centre back Pa-Modou Kah also made his first appearance of the preseason.
After a little bit of a slow start, the 'Caps played some attractive stuff in the first half, including a few flicks from Marco Bustos, some decisive one-touch passing, and a couple pinpoint Morales long balls.
And one player who was very involved was Pérez.
The Panamanian linked up well with his teammates as a lone striker and was rewarded in the 38th minute with the game’s opening goal. After Manneh won a corner, Jordan Harvey flicked on Morales' ball to Pérez at the back post and the 6-foot-1 striker finished first time with his left foot before celebrating with his patented bull horns in honour of his late father.
Vancouver nearly doubled their lead in the 44th minute.
In the build-up, Harvey did well to guide one of Morales' many long balls to Manneh, who got in behind before Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson rushed off his line to make a chest save.
At the other end of the pitch, Tornaghi wasn’t really tested.
Portland’s best chance of the half came in the 32nd minute, when Jack Jewsbury turned and fired a left-footed strike over the goal from inside the box after a nice attack down the right. Jewsbury came close again in the second half, this time firing a 25-yard strike just wide in the 70th minute.
Two minutes later, a pair of 'Caps substitutes combined on a counter-attack as Cristian Techera found Rivero, who cut into the middle and curled in a left-footed strike from the top of the box.
The Timbers came on late, forcing substitute keeper Richey into a pair of diving saves off Jack McInerney and Neco Brett, but Vancouver managed to hold onto the 2-0 victory.
The ‘Caps have one more preseason match remaining, Saturday vs. NASL side Minnesota United FC (2:30 p.m. PT on whitecapsfc.com and TSN 1040 radio), before opening the 2016 MLS regular season on Sunday, March 6 against Didier Drogba and longtime Canadian rivals Montreal Impact.
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. PT at BC Place.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Striker/winger Erik Hurtado (knee) and midfielders Russell Teibert (calf) and Nicolas Mezquida (hip) are day-to-day, while striker Masato Kudo (medical condition) joined the team in Portland today and trained prior to the match.
- 17-year-old WFC2 midfielder Thomas Gardner entered the match as a sub in the 80th minute to make his first appearance with the first team.
38’ – VAN – Blas Pérez (Jordan Harvey, Pedro Morales)
72’ – VAN – Octavio Rivero (Cristian Techera)
24’ – VAN – Pa-Modou Kah
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
70.Paolo Tornaghi* (39.Spencer Richey 45’); 6.Jordan Smith, 26.Tim Parker, 44.Pa-Modou Kah (14.Cole Seiler 77’), 2.Jordan Harvey; 38.Kianz Froese, 77.Pedro Morales © (25.Trialist* 45’); 67.Alphonso Davies^ (13.Cristian Techera 63’), 32.Marco Bustos (64.Thomas Gardner^ 80’), 23.Kekuta Manneh (7.Christian Bolaños 64’); 27.Blas Pérez (29.Octavio Rivero 63’)
* Camp invitee
90.Jake Gleeson; 20.Taylor Peay, 35.Anthony Manning, 16.Zarek Valentin (32.Trevor Morley 64’), 28.Andy Thoma; 13.Jack Jewsbury © (27.Nick Besler 77’), 10.Ned Grabavoy (30.Kharlton Belmar^ 77’), 14.Ben Zemanski; 25.Neco Brett, 99.Jack McInerney, 19.Ben Polk (31.Michael Seaton 58’)