Ben Nelms/The Canadian Press via AP

For an hour at BC Place on Saturday, the mojo that the Portland Timbers' road to a home win last Sunday against Toronto FC held. Despite plenty of Vancouver Whitecaps pressure, the Timbers led through a beautiful team goal and a series of phenomenal saves from Jake Gleeson.

Then, the dam broke.

Vancouver struck on the hour mark through Japanese striker Masuto Kudo, and it was a Gleeson howler that gifted the Whitecaps a go-ahead goal just moments later when he mishandled a Christian Bolaños cross. Portland wouldn't recover. For just the third time in six MLS seasons the Timbers would lose to their Canadian rival.

It was a defeat not entirely — if at all — undeserved. The Timbers have shown flashes on a number of occasions this season, but they are still yet to clinch back-to-back wins.

The tenor of this match stood in stark contrast to last meeting between these two teams in Vancouver — Portland's fabulous 2-0 win in the second leg of the 2015 Western Conference Semifinal. In that game, the Whitecaps couldn't near the Timbers.

This game, however, was played evenly and often frenetically. Vancouver's start to 2016 had been dreadful — just three wins and seven goals from open play scored in ten games — and Carl Robinson's team was fully aware of the importance of making a stand against the team that so throughly ousted them from the playoffs last season.

But despite the Whitecaps' best efforts, the first half didn't run their way. It was the Timbers, who, after sustaining plenty of early pressure, took the lead with a sublime goal reminiscent of the one finished off by Fanendo Adi against Toronto last weekend.

The orchestrator this time was Darlington Nagbe, who looked three times the player he was against TFC. It was a one-two with Adi that sent the American international clear, and his ball to the back post was slid in by a man who knows a thing or two sliding challenges — Nat Borchers.

It was a fantastic goal, and it colored what was something of a tenuous half. Portland had its game-plan intact — and, considering how the last game played out, they were more than comfortable with their position.

But it was a comfort that was being held together by slim margins — and the feeling was that once the first one went in for the Whitecaps, another one was sure to follow.

Portland started the second half slowly, and fifteen minutes after the resumption of play, the 'Caps broke through. With Gleeson leaning to his far post, Kudo stuck a shot inside the near post to tie the game. Six minutes later, Bolaños' cross missed both Blas Perez and Borchers and got past Gleeson for 2-1.

Ben Nelms/The Canadian Press via AP

And while the defending Player of the Week was most at fault for the two goals themselves, the loss could not be pinned on him in any way, shape, or form. Gleeson's eleven saves were the most in the club's MLS history — and more of those saves than not were of a very high caliber.

Without Gleeson, the margin wouldn't have been one.

The real differences from last weekend? Portland's intensity, for one, didn't match Vancouver's. The Timbers have been where the Whitecaps were on Saturday — notably the April home game against San Jose — and understand the difference it makes.

Portland was overwhelmed in midfield, and with neither Valeri nor Mattocks hitting the heights they soared to against Toronto, Portland's second half offense consisted of Nagbe trying to dribble upwards of three players on most every possession.

It was the type of anemic midfield display that convinced Porter to go back to the 4-2-3-1 with Jack Jewsbury alongside Chara for a stretch earlier in the season. Notably absent from the eighteen in Vancouver was Dairon Asprilla, who, it can only be assumed, the Timbers could have used as Lucas Melano was outclassed by an adroit performance from the tricky Bolaños.

The truth is that if you're going to get outshot 26-9, your margin of error disappears. And despite all his good work, Gleeson's performance wasn't clean enough to secure a point.

Porter still has some tinkering to do. The good news is, he has plenty of time to do it. It's worth remembering that Portland also lost 2-1 in Vancouver last spring. The concerns this year are different — the Timbers, along with FC Dallas, have conceded the most goals in the league — but Porter's fall track record is unassailable.

In the meantime, the Timbers will continue to be hit and miss. One worrying facet of this start, however, is road form. Portland was the best road team in the league in the last three years under Porter, but have amassed just two points from five road matches so far this year.

And it won't get any easier for the Timbers anytime soon. Next up is a Wednesday night trip to Frisco to play a Dallas team that thrashed Portland four weeks ago and will be eager to respond after dropping three straight on the road.

In many ways, eagerness told the story on Saturday. It was going to take a big effort for Vancouver to get past the Timbers, but the 'Caps delivered — and in doing so, clinched the biggest win of their season. For Portland, however, the question marks are beginning to pile up.