Despite celebrating the club’s most successful season in their MLS history, Vancouver Whitecaps FC looked woeful on Sunday night en route to their 2-0 defeat in their first home playoff game, against rivals Portland Timbers FC.
The outlook of the game didn’t look entirely bleak for the ‘Caps at first, however, as Captain Pedro Morales was back in the starting eleven for the first time since October 9th after a hamstring injury, and right from kick-off Vancouver seemed to control the game.
20-year-old Gambian Kekuta Manneh looked to be the best player on the field taking numerous attempts on Portland’s goal, with his best attempt hitting the post and bouncing off Timbers’ goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey’s head and out for a corner. Unfortunately, Manneh’s incredible speed came back to haunt him, as he twisted his ankle sprinting towards Kwarasey’s goal. He seemed to be okay coming back on for a minute, but was finally substituted off in the 26th minute after being unable to continue. Veteran Mauro Rosales came on in his place.
After Manneh’s injury, the ‘Caps looked to become an entirely different team, seemingly losing all motivation. Five minutes later, after an incredibly poor defensive effort by right-back Steven Beitashour and Rosales on a free throw, the Timbers capitalised, with Fanendo Adi blasting a shot behind David Ousted.
With a one goal deficit and the away goals rule in place, the ‘Caps knew they needed two goals to defeat the Timbers after a 0-0 draw the week prior at Providence Park. Any motivation Vancouver had left after Manneh’s injury disappeared and the thousands upon thousands of Whitecaps supporters in BC Place were silenced with only the chants of the Timbers Army audible. Chants of “Can you hear the Whitecaps sing?” were loud and clear on the broadcast.
Going into halftime, things looked very bleak for Carl Robinson’s men.
While the ‘Caps seemed to play with more passion at the beginning of the second half, within minutes Portland had control of possession, and once again, the Whitecaps’ offence disappeared. Designated Player Octavio Rivero seemed invisible and ineffective all game. Not even two offensive substitutions, Darren Mattocks for Gershon Koffie in the 63rd minute and Robert Earnshaw for Beitashour in the 82nd, could help the ‘Caps, with Vancouver finishing the game with only two shots on target.
With Vancouver’s hopes of carrying on in the playoffs diminishing by the minute, Diego Chara sealed the win for the Timbers in stoppage time as Portland passed the ball through the Whitecaps’ lifeless defence, before Chara easily slotted the ball behind the helpless Ousted. Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s historic season was over, as the boys in white went out with barely a whimper.
What went wrong for the ‘Caps on Sunday? Quite a bit. Whether it was Manneh’s injury, Beitashour’s poor mistake that led to Portland’s first goal, Rivero’s lack of offence, the lack of passion from the Whitecaps’ supporters, or a combination of all of them, Vancouver saved one of their worst games of the season for when it mattered the most.
31’ Fanendo Adi
94’ Diego Chara
Shots: Vancouver 12 – Portland 14
Shots on Target: Vancouver 2 – Portland 5
Corners: Vancouver 5 – Portland 4
Offsides: Vancouver 0 – Portland 1
Fouls: Vancouver 18 – Portland 21
Passing Accuracy: Vancouver 73% – Portland 80%
Possession: Vancouver 46.6% – Portland 53.4%
55’ Octavio Rivero
60’ Rodney Wallace
62’ Diego Valeri
72’ Steven Beitashour
89’ Robert Earnshaw
Vancouver Whitecaps FC:
Rosales for Manneh (26’), Mattocks for Koffie (63’), Earnshaw for Beitashour (82’)
Tornaghi, Smith, Dean, Teibert
Portland Timbers FC:
Paparatto for Villafana (67’), Melano for Wallace (80’), Jewbury for Valeri (84’)
Gleeson, Johnson, Peay, Urruti