Portland Timbers 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 3: Match Recap & Highlights
The post-Savarese era begins with a five-goal thriller, and yet another Timbers loss.
The Portland Timbers fell 2-3 at home to the Vancouver Whitecaps in their first game since the club fired head coach Giovanni Savarese. Ryan Gauld and Brian White gave the visitors a 2-0 lead in the first half, before Felipe Mora halved the deficit early in the second half. Vancouver restored their two-goal advantage minutes later via a penalty kick from Gauld, and Evander set up a frantic finish as he scored in the 85th minute.
It wasn’t enough however, as the Timbers dropped a rivalry loss at home, ceding control of their fate in the Cascadia Cup in the process.
The first game of the post-Giovanni Savarese era started with a very Savarese-looking lineup, set by interim head coach Miles Joseph. Diego Chara entered back into the eleven after serving a suspension last weekend and Felipe Mora got the nod up top, with Franck Boli serving as the sole striker option on the bench with Jaroslaw Niezgoda out for the year with a torn ACL.
As is customary for rivalry matchups, the Timbers Army raised a Tifo display before kickoff. And as is customary for the Timbers Army, it did not miss: paying homage to the film North by Northwest, the TA unfurled a “Kings of the Northwest” display honoring the Timbers as current holders of the Cascadia Cup.
After a fairly decent and even first few minutes from the Timbers, their defense capitulated early yet again when they conceded in the 13th minute. Ryan Gauld found the opener as he slid past Claudio Bravo into a deflected shot and knocked it past David Bingham, giving the visitors the lead.
Despite a heroic from Dairon Asprilla to rescue the Timbers with a bicycle kick yet again, Portland looked bereft of ideas and belief for most of the first half. They registered just four shots total, none of them on target.
Vancouver meanwhile managed to put another shot on target — and in the goal. In the 36th minute Brian White rose up to meet a Gauld cross at the far post, heading home the game’s second goal to give the Whitecaps a two-goal advantage at halftime.
On the field at halftime, Diego Chara pulled his side together for what looked like an animated pep talk. Perhaps feeding off of that, the Timbers came out determined to get back into the game in the second half.
Eight minutes into the second frame, they did just that via the head of Felipe Mora. Asprilla sent in a great cross, and Mora turned back the clock to 2021 by busting out his patented leap and flick, sending a header past the ’keeper and into the back of the net to half the deficit.
The good vibes that returned to Providence Park barely last five minutes however, as Portland would gift Vancouver their two-goal advantage right back via the penalty spot. Evander conceded a penalty in the 58th minute by clumsily barreling over Laryea in a poorly-judged attempt to win back the ball, and two minutes later Gauld got his brace by burying the pen.
In an attempt to fight back, Miles Joseph made a triple sub midway through the second half, introducing Franck Boli, Sebastian Blanco, and the once-upon-a-time-exiled Santiago Moreno. About a dozen minutes after that, Joseph subbed on new U-22 signing Antony, giving him his first minutes in a Timbers shirt.
While it looked for all of the world that Portland would fade to another multi-goal loss, Evander scored in the 85th minute off of an excellent feed from Blanco to cut the deficit back to one goal. The late strike sparked a frantic energy and finish, with the Timbers pushing to find a late equalizer.
The comeback attempt fell short however, and the full-time whistle blew with Portland falling 2-3 to Vancouver. The loss meant Portland fell to second in the Cascadia Cup standings, with Vancouver taking up pole position. The Timbers can leapfrog them back with a win in Seattle next week, but with that game being Portland’s final Cascadia match, retaining the Cup for a second year is now out of their hands.
2’ The first chance of the game fell to the visitors, after Richie Laryea skipped past Claudio Bravo and centered the ball in the box. Ali Ahmed skied his attempt however, saving Bravo and the Timbers defense blushes.
13’ Goal Vancouver 0-1. Bravo and the rest of the defense wouldn’t be spared roughly ten minutes later, however. A quick Vancouver break saw the ball centered to the middle of the box, and a quick shot deflected off of a jumping Brian White towards the far post. Ryan Gauls reacted first, running past Bravo to slide onto the ball and knock it into the far post.
17’ Yimmi Chara did well to find Evander at the top of the box, and the Brazilian’s shot — which looked like it had eyes for the back of the net — was blocked.
33’ Dairon Asprilla tried to do it again, squaring up for a bicycle kick after a header was sent across the box. The spectacular didn’t hit this time as his attempt flew wide of the post.
36’ Goal Vancouver 0-2. The Whitecaps doubled their advantage, and it was by way of the foot of Gauld yet again. The Scottish attacker drove to the byline and lofted an inch-perfect cross towards the far post. Brian White (easily) out-leapt Bravo to head home the game’s second goal.
HALFTIME: Timbers - 0, Whitecaps - 2.
The Timbers looked like the lowest version of themselves in the first half, conceding twice and failing to put a single shot on target.
53’ GOAL TIMBERS! 1-2. The Timbers didn’t wait long to get themselves back into the game, as Dairon Asprilla whipped in a beauty of a cross. Felipe Mora did what he does best and jumped to meet it, flicking a header towards goal and into the back of the net. Providence Park found it’s voice again, and the Timbers had found a lifeline.
58’ Penalty to Vancouver. The revitalization lasted barely even five minutes, after Evander clumsily bowled over Laryea in the Timbers’ box in an attempt to win the ball. The ref did not hesitate and pointed to the spot.
60’ Goal Vancouver 1-3. Gauld stepped up and buried the spot kick just past the outstretched fingers of Bingham, who had guessed and dove the right way. Gauld tallied his brace, and restored Vancoucer’s two-goal advantage.
66’ Miles Joseph made a triple-sub to help spark Portland back into the game, introducing Sebastian Blanco, Farnck Boli, and Santiago Moreno.
76’ A nice move from Moreno resulted in Evander getting a shot off from the middle of the box, but the attempt was blocked by the face of Whitecaps defender Rank Veselinovic.
79’ It was a debut for newest U-22 signing Antony, as he subbed on for his first minutes in a Timbers shirt.
85’ GOAL TIMBERS! 2-3. The Timbers got within one goal yet again, this time via Evander. Blanco drove to the endline, getting on the end on an excellent ball through from Moreno. Seba cut the ball back into the box, and Evander was there to knock it home and set up a barnstorming finish.
In the closing time in regulation and seven minutes of stoppage time, the Timbers threw bodies forward attempting to find an equalizer. However, their frenetic comeback attempt was too little, too late.
FULLTIME: Timbers - 2, Whitecaps - 3.
Gio or no Gio, Timbers games remain to be a rollercoaster.
The first match since the team parted ways with Savarese was definitely a mixed bag. It continues to be frustrating to watch this team struggle to generate consistent looks in front of goal, and the inconsistent individual performances elsewhere on the filed continue to lead to Portland coughing up goals.
And while Portland’s offense did wake up (and score a pair of lovely goals, to be honest), it’s equally as maddening to see it wait until after spotting their opponent a two goal lead (twice!) before finally doing so.
That being said, it was refreshing to see this team finally show a bit of fight. It is something that has been missing for large swaths of this season, so seeing it this weekend was encouraging.
Still, it was clear that this team is still trying to fix itself, and it will be some time before they shake off the malaise of what this season has been — if they even do so at all this year.
Portland has a quick turnaround, as they next face Real Salt Lake at home on Wednesday August 30 at Providence Park. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. PT.