PORTLAND, OR – Fredy Montero scored his fourth goal in as many games as Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-4L-1D) went toe-to-toe with the league-leading Portland Timbers (5W-2L-1D) on Saturday afternoon at Providence Park.
It just wasn’t enough in the end.
The Timbers held on for a 2-1 victory and continued their red hot start to 2017 thanks to first-half goals from Darlington Nagbe, who opened the scoring with a world-class 18th minute strike, and former Whitecaps FC striker Darren Mattocks, whose 40th-minute marker proved the winner.
"I think we were the better team," said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson. "I just said to the guys in there, I can't be disappointed with them because I think they put on a very, very strong performance in a difficult environment. But we didn't take our chances and they took two of theirs."
Robinson made two changes to his starting lineup on Saturday, and a slight change in shape, inserting midfielders Andrew Jacobson and Tony Tchani for Russell Teibert and Alphonso Davies in a new-look 4-1-4-1 formation.
And for large parts of the opening half, it had the desired effect.
The ‘Caps managed to find some nice pockets of space in midfield and showed some promise going forward, coming close on headers from Christian Bolaños, Montero, and Jacobson. They actually outshot the Timbers 10-7 and had just about the same amount of possession, but Portland hurt them where it matters most – on the scoreboard.
In the 18th minute, Nagbe tiptoed around a pair of defenders before firing home an absolute rocket off the underside of the bar from the edge of the box. And in the 40th minute, Nagbe found some space in midfield again, this time playing the ball out wide to Diego Valeri, whose cross from the right was tapped home by Mattocks at the near post.
And just like that, it was 2-0 Timbers.
The ‘Caps did not go away lightly, however. It was all Vancouver early in the second half, and they got their reward just before the hour-mark. Montero pulled the ‘Caps within one on a 59th-minute penalty after Bolaños was pulled down by Timbers right back Alvas Powell. Timbers keeper Jeff Attinella made the initial save, but Montero did well to convert his own rebound.
Montero nearly added a second in the 76th minute.
After a receiving a feed from Bolaños on the left side of the box, the Colombian cut back and just missed the top right corner with what would have been a spectacular chipped effort.
The ‘Caps continued to pour on the pressure in the dying stages but simply couldn’t find an equalizer. It was an encouraging road outing for the ‘Caps, who outshot the Timbers 16-11 and controlled large parts of the match.
And they will be hoping to build on it a week from today when they visit Montreal Impact in the second match of their season-long four-match road trip (12 p.m. PT on CTV).
Budweiser Man of the Match: Matias Laba
Referee: Chris Penso
18’ – POR – Darlington Nagbe (David Guzman)
40’ – POR – Darren Mattocks (Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe)
59’ – VAN – Fredy Montero
Possession: Portland 52.2% – Vancouver 47.8%
Shots: Portland 11 – Vancouver 16
Shots on Goal: Portland 3 – Vancouver 4
Saves: Portland 3 – Vancouver 1
Fouls: Portland 14 – Vancouver 16
Offsides: Portland 1 – Vancouver 0
Corners: Portland 4 – Vancouver 4
42’ – VAN – Andrew Jacobson
64’ – VAN – Jordan Harvey
68’ – POR – Liam Ridgewell
85’ – VAN – Sheanon Williams
90’ + 4’ – POR – Jack Barmby
1.Jeff Attinella; 2.Alvas Powell, 13.Lawrence Olum, 24.Liam Ridgewell, 5.Vytas Andriuskevicius; 20.David Guzman, 21.Diego Chara; 27.Dairon Asprilla (10.Sebastian Blanco 77’), 8.Diego Valeri (23.Jack Barmby 80’), 6.Darlington Nagbe; 11.Darren Mattocks
Substitutes not used
43.Kendall McIntosh, 4.Chance Myers, 7.Roy Miller, 18.Amobi Okugo, 32.Marco Farfan
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 25.Sheanon Williams, 4.Kendall Waston, 26.Tim Parker, 2.Jordan Harvey; 8.Andrew Jacobson (11.Nicolás Mezquida 77’), 15.Matías Laba, 16.Tony Tchani (47.Kyle Greig 88’); 13.Cristian Techera (67.Alphonso Davies 74’), 12.Fredy Montero, 7.Christian Bolaños
Substitutes not used
18.Spencer Richey, 22.Christian Dean, 31.Russell Teibert, 77.Mauro Rosales