LIVE from Goose Hollow, where after slow-dancing toward disaster for much of the first two months of the season, the Timbers are suddenly struttin'.
Unbeaten in six straight and fresh off back-to-back road wins this very week, Portland's confidence—as coach Caleb Porter put it Friday—is at an "all-time high."
Good thing, especially since the similarly warming Vancouver Whitecaps enter tonight's regional romp looking to do more than step on the toes of their Cascadia neighbors. The holders of The Cup are unbeaten in five straight and need a result to keep Portland below them in the Western Conference standings.
It's a lovely
day night for a derby! So kick off those boots, click past the jump and follow along as I deftly describe all the rug-cutting action—on and off the pitch.
Vancouver's First XI—(4-2-5, 17 points)—David Ousted in goal. Nigel Reo-Coker, Jay DeMerit, Andy O'Brien and Jordan Harvey on defense. Matias Laba, Pedro Morales, Gershon Koffie, Sebastian Fernández and Kekuta Manneh at midfield. Erik Hurtado up front.
Available: Paolo Tornaghi, Darren Mattocks, Johnny Leverón, Omar Salgado, Christian Dean, Nicolas Mezquida, Russell Teibert.
Portland's First XI—(3-3-7, 16 points)—Donovan Ricketts in goal. Jack Jewsbury, Pa Kah, Raushawn McKenzie and Jorge Villafaña on defense. Diego Chara, Diego Valeri, Capt. Will Johnson and Darlington Nagbe at midfield. Maxi Urruti and Steve Zakuani up front.
Riding pine: Andrew Weber, Michael Harrington, Danny O'Rourke, Kalif Alhassan, Michael Nanchoff, Fanendo Adi, Gaston Fernandez.
Urruti gets the start over Adi, in Porter's biggest good-problem-to-have decision of the week. Both strikers are hot, coming off two-goal performances. Harrington remains on the bench after Villafana performed well in Harrington's injury absence. No Futty in the 18.
It sounds like a derby in here. The Southsiders have certainly made the trip South, and are making their presence known. They also did quite a number to the sidewalk in front of the visiting supporters/media entrance. But since they're Canadian, the vandalism was all chalk-based. Rumor has it, however, the Southsiders had a chant about Portland needing to boil its water earlier, which is both funny and #toosoon, brahs.
Timbers are sporting their Rose City red kits, 'Caps are in all white. Just over half the pitch covered in sun, the rest is in the shadow of this here press box.
In the absence of tifo, lots of new green-and-white-checked flags in the North End for this one.
FIRST HALF: Timbers headed South...and away we go!
2nd minute—First nifty backheel of the night goes the Timbers! It leads to nothing, but nifty nonetheless.
3rd—TIMBERS GOAL! Urruti with a beautiful strike from the corner of the box. Nagbe feeds one to Valeri, who finds Urruti. He runs to the end of the box and crushes one left-footed, curling around Ousted. Urruti is officially on fire, and there's green and yellow smoke to prove it. Timbers lead 1-0. What a start for the home team.
6th—Villafana called for a foul, the first of the match. He dragged down Fernandez on a potential counter. Professional foul, perhaps.
7th—Nearly a second goal for Portland, but OUSTED WITH A DIVING SAVE. Nagbe dancing around the box and feeds it back to Johnson, who hits one low and left. Ousted dives and knocks it away. Nagbe still down in the box as Vancouver is called for a foul in a dangerous spot, about five yards outside the box. Timbers on the front foot early.
8th—Nagbe back on his feet and Valeri sends in the free kick low. No troubles for the Vancouver defense.
11th—Johnson with a big switch to Jewsbury, who touches it back to Valeri. He moves around a defender and has a shot from 15 yards out, but it's not struck well and merely dribbles to Ousted. Goal kick, Vancouver.
13th—Zakuani dribbles into the box and finds Nagbe, who chips it ahead to Urruti. He tries a shot, but nothing much on that one and Ousted easily handles it. Nice one-touch passing there from Portland, whose offensive attack looks confident right now.
15th—VANCOUVER PENALTY KICK! Hurtado dribbles into the box and either Chara or Jewsbury make contact. Hurtado goes down and the ref immediately points to the spot. Tough call, looked pretty innocuous from up here. Of course, if Hurtado was playing for such a call (and fully to prepared to sell any contact), that was well done. Ref didn't hesitate. Kah and Johnson motioning for Timbers Army to get louder as Morales lines it up.
16th—CAPS GOAL! Morales goes right up the middle and equalizes. He taunts Timbers Army a bit, and they won't like that. We're tied at 1.
18th—Nagbe with a long run until he's taken down by Harvey. No call, and Johnson is furious with the ref. Right back on the south end and Nagbe hammers a volley that goes off a Vancouver defender and over the line for a corner kick. Timbers still pressing.
19th—Valeri sends in a curler and URRUTI HITS THE POST. He nearly scores a second one on a twisting header. The rebound goes to McKenzie, but he ends up at a tough angle and doesn't attempt a shot.
24th—Zakuani sends a cross into the box that caught Ousted a bit off guard. It was probably meant to be a cross, but it fluttered its way dangerously close to the top right corner. No matter, goal kick for Vancouver.
25th—PENALTY KICK VANCOUVER. Seriously. Another one. Villafana called for a foul inside the box and the ref again points to the spot. Yeeesh, another close call in the box leads to the second PK of the match. Pretty sure it was on Villafana stepping into Morales, but there were a couple guys in white falling all over the place during that play. Cue the conspiracy theorists!
26th—VANCOUVER GOAL! Morales goes left and Ricketts has no chance. Caps lead 2-1.
28th—Manneh called for the first yellow of the match. Chara had just stolen the ball from him and Manneh returned the favor with a sliding tackle from behind. Free kick for Portland, but it's all the way back in their end. This one's been wide-open so far, and now it's getting a bit chippy because rivalry.
30th—Manneh fires one from about 40 yards out, but it's well high and wide.
31st—Valeri is taken down from behind in the box and no call. Johnson is livid. Fans are livid. Porter is livid. Tough no-call there, especially after the first two PKs.
37th—A near-disaster for Kah, who's dispossessed by Hurtado after taking a backward pass from Nagbe and trying to do too way much re: dribbling. Not sure what he was thinking there, dribbling directly into a double team, but he's the pro. As a result, Hurtado finds Morales, who settles and curls one just wide of the goal. Lucky for Portland. That would've been a dagger right there.
40th—Zakuani works his way around Reo-Coker after a nice touch on a driven ball by Chara. Zakuani attempts a cross, but well defended by the Caps.
43rd—Caps nearly net one, but it's just over the bar! Morales with a corner kick and Hurtado sticks his foot out and nearly jabs one in. But it catches the bottom of his boot and goes just over the woodwork. Another near-dagger. Portland reeling a bit, halftime can't come soon enough.
44th—Things are getting chippy at midfield. Fernandez gets a yellow card for delaying. Chara took issue and Kah ran up and chest-bumped him to the ground. There's a bit of a scrum at midfield, but it's broken up. Porter and Robinson are jawing at each other from their respective coach's boxes. Easy, fellas.
Four minutes of stoppage...Valeri fires one off the side netting! Quickly on the corner kick, and Valeri sends it in low, but it's knocked away immediately....Another Timbers corner sent to the middle and McKenzie gets a header on it, but it's popped into the air and is easy pickings for Ousted. WHITECAPS GOAL! Hurtado! Nice combo play there as Hurtado gets the cross and one-times a shot that's saved by Ricketts. The rebound falls right to Hurtado's feet, however, and he either knocks it in easily or it just spins over the line. In any case, Vancouver leads 3-1.
HALFTIME: That was certainly an interesting first 45 minutes. 'Caps lead 3-1 on a pair of PKs and the refs are hearing it from Timbers Army as they exit the pitch. Hearing boos, that is. Some of those might be reserved for the Timbers back line, which has been just as, uh, questionable as the officials.
Some stats: Vancouver out-shot Portland 14-6 in the run of play and 2-0 on penalties. Portland had 55% of the possession and won nearly 56% of duels.
SECOND HALF: Timbers headed toward their Army.
46th—One sub for Vancouver: Teibert is on for Manneh. Timbers will have the first corner of the half. Valeri sends it in, but it's right at Ousted, who leaps and grabs it without issue.
48th—Villafana with yet another well-paced ball into the box. This one's for Zakuani, who gets past Reo-Coker and knocks one left-footed, but well wide of the goal.
49th—WHITECAPS GOAL! Ruh roh. What a strike from Harvey! Patient buildup from Vancouver leads to a killer of a goal. Morales bring it down and gets way too much time in the corner of the box. He finds Hurtado, who plays it back to Harvey. After a nice first touch, Harvey blasts it low and right, and Ricketts can't reach it. Vancouver leads 4-1.
51st—Zakuani collides with Ousted after a heavy first touch, and the Caps keeper is still down.
54th—Valeri sends a low, line-driven cross into the box for Urruti, but Ousted is there to grab it first.
56th—Morales fires one from 40 yards out and Ricketts knocks it over the line. Corner coming. Timbers make their first sub: Adi comes on for Zakuani. Two strikers up front, dice being rolled down three goals.
57th—Morales' cross comes low and it's headed over the line by a Vancouver defender. Goal kick coming.
61st—Great ball by Morales ahead to Hurtado, who had the defense beat until McKenzie catches up and knocks it over the line. Nice recovery after Morales' 50-yard longball nearly freed up Hurtado for a goal. Corner kick coming. Morales takes it low and near-post. Harvey with a diving header over the line. No troubles there for Ricketts, who will have a goal kick.
66th—Subs! For Vancouver, it's Mattocks for Hurtado. For Portland, Fernandez comes on for Urruti.
70th—Timbers nearly net one! Jewsbury with a long cross that skips to the other side of the box for Valeri. Instead of one-touching, he gathers and shoots, but it hits the side of the net. Valeri would probably like that one back. Big-time missed opportunity there.
72nd—Chara finds Nagbe, who runs to the top of the box and fires, but his shot is wide left. Two decent opportunities in a row for Portland, which is picking up momentum...but perhaps too late.
77th—Villafana with a cross for Adi, who nearly volleys it in! It'll be a corner kick, but not before Alhassan comes on for Villafana. Corner comes in low and immediately cleared.
78th—TIMBERS GOAL! Fernandez pulls one back. Valeri plays a great ball into six-yard box and Fernandez strongly heads it across Ousted for goal. CAPS STILL LEAD, 4-2.
81st—Alhassan earns a corner. Johnson plays it quick and Alhassan dummies it for Nagbe, but Vancouver defends.
83rd—Mattocks steps into the box and fires low, but Ricketts is there to grab it.
84th—Nagbe sets up a free kick after being fouled about 25 yards out. Valeri with the quick restart. He plays it in for Adi at the penalty spot, but Ousted with the save! Another big-time save there for the Caps as the Timbers keep threatening.
86th—TIMBERS GOAL! And what a goal! A long ball played into the box for Adi, who chests it down, touches it to himself, then pops it over his head for Johnson. He's running full-stride into the box and absolutely blasts a volley past Ousted. Wow, what a great goal. Classy stuff there. CAPS LEAD 4-3, but this one is far from over.
88th—Free kick coming about 25 yards out. Koffie fouled Johnson and is livid about the call. Johnson readies in front of the wall. He fires it low, but it's just wide left.
Four minutes of stoppage...And we'll have a corner for Portland after Fernandez just misses the equalizer. Valeri sends it in and McKenzie gets a clean header, but IT'S WIDE!...Another free kick for Portland. They play it short. Nagbe into the box and he's dragged down by Mattocks, but no call. (Shouldn't be, probably, unless you ask Timbers Army). Vancouver clears and Ricketts comes way out of his box to boot it forward. He collides with someone, and now he's walking gingerly back to his goal with a heavy limp. Not good....One more chance for Portland. Alhassan fouled about 10 yards outside of the edge of the box. Meanwhile, on the other end, Ricketts is down. Not good at all. Valeri pops the free kick high and into the six-yard box, but Ousted is there go grab it.
FULL TIME: Whitecaps win, 4-3. A crazy final 20 minutes sees Portland score twice and nearly equalize, but Vancouver beats Portland for the first time in each team's MLS history. Ricketts still down in the box.
Refs are walking off and hearing it from the fans and Timbers owner Merritt Paulson. He berates the refs as they walk off the field. He looks very, shall we say, animated, as the refs take the starewell down to their locker room. First some sarcastic applause, then just some straight yellin'. Not the classiest move I've ever seen from an owner, but frustration with PKs is a thing around here...And speaking of, now coaches are mixing it up at midfield, with Porter and Robinson right in the middle of it. Both are quickly separated from the scrum, but lots of words still being exchanged by a number of players and coaches. Ugh. Rivalries bring out the worst in folks sometimes.
You can bet there'll be plenty of questions about all of THAT postgame.
Porter's postgame presser...and yeah, it's pretty freakin' testy: