Post-Match Review #11 – Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Portland Timbers : Timbering Portlandia

Coming off of a win in Colorado, Vancouver was back at it with some friday night football against the Portland Timbers. The city of Roses came to Vancouver with their daunting line-up, for a timeless West Coast Cascadia clash.

Match:

~1st Half~

Things started off well with a very nicely taken 9th minute Fredy Montero goal. Fredy composed himself nicely to roof the ball into the back of the net with his left foot, which was a refreshing scene for all Whitecaps fans. Credit must be given to Russell Teibert as well for his beautifully weighted pass to Fredy Montero, which made it much easier for him to pull off the finish. 2 goals in 2 games for Fredy Montero, and he is now the Whitecaps’ leading goal scorer. We then saw an assembly of impressive wing play from Ali Adnan as he bursted up to assist the attack. The defense seemed to be doing very well early on with the Portland Timbers’ attacks. The Whitecaps then tried a corner set play, which almost worked out, but not quite. It was nice to see some training ground work being worked into games. Ali Adnan had a big opportunity to score one from short range, but he was leaning back too much and the ball went flying above the net and into the stands. Then the Whitecaps seemed to scrape by a few corner kick attempts from the Portland Timbers, with goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau making 2 big stops to preserve the clean sheet. The first 30 minutes of the game were pretty open and exciting, but the game got less exciting for the last 15 minutes of the first half. Nothing was too noteworthy, other than some acrobatic diving challenges from Doneil Henry (again). We then saw an assembly of impressive wing play from Ali Adnan as he bursted up to assist the attack. The defense seemed to be doing very well early on with the Portland Timbers’ attacks. The Whitecaps then tried a corner set play, which almost worked out, but not quite. It was nice to see some training ground work being worked into games. Ali Adnan had a big opportunity to score one from short range, but he was leaning back too much and the ball went flying above the net and into the stands. Then the Whitecaps seemed to scrape by a few corner kick attempts from the Portland Timbers, with goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau making 2 big stops to preserve the clean sheet. The first 30 minutes of the game were pretty open and exciting, but the game got less exciting for the last 15 minutes of the first half. Nothing was too noteworthy, other than some acrobatic diving challenges from Doneil Henry (again).

The Whitecaps finished out the first half with an extremely impressive 56% possession, which was surely some of the best they have obtained this year.

~2nd Half~

Things changed drastically in the second half. Portland seemed to be dominating the match, with many chances all over the place. Many of the chances created were half-chances, and the Whitecaps seemed to be fine with taking this risk. Again, Crepeau made some big saves and Henry made some big defensive plays. Then the Whitecaps had a few golden opportunities to put some certainty on the match, with big chances from Venuto and Adnan, which both came close to being converted. The last 10 minutes of the game were not pretty from the Whitecaps, but they did very well to keep the Timbers from scoring, and came out with a well-earned win.

Thoughts:

We had suspicions about how the Whitecaps would be able to handle Portland’s attack, and the answer here is that they did very well. Once again, the Henry and Godoy partnership was solid, with full backs Nerwinski and Adnan doing their part defensively as well. The Whitecaps seem to have assembled a competent back line, which will really help them going forward for the rest of the season (although they may need to make a decision about Ali Adnan’s contract). Maxime Crepeau was a big help for the too, as he came up with multiple impressive stops to keep goals out of the Whitecaps’ net, and he seems to be the favoured goalkeeper at the moment, over Zac Macmath. It must be noted that the Portland Timbers came without their new man Brian Fernandez, who was suspended from a game with the Liga MX, which may have eased things for the Caps.

Midfielders Russell Teibert and Jon Erice did their duties quite well, and Inbeom Hwang was active throughout the game, playing impressive cross-field balls. I would like to see Inbeom Hwang making some more risky penetrative passes, with the likes of speedy Lucas Venuto and Lass Bangoura on the wings, the Whitecaps could benefit more from runs beyond the backline, and Hwang has the quality to weight those passes perfectly.

BTS Player to Watch: Fredy Montero

As outlined in the pre-match preview, a special eye was to be kept on Fredy Montero for this match. We were wondering if he would have what it takes to get some consistency, and score goals in back to back games. He did just that, with a beautifully finished goal early on in the match. He seemed to be more like himself this game. His confidence seemed higher, and he had more purpose in his step. This is a promising take-away for the Whitecaps, as Fredy Montero will be integral to their success this season.

MOTM:

This one has to go to Maxime Crepeau, as his saves played an important role in the Whitecaps’ win against the Portland Timbers. Honourable mentions go to Fredy Montero for the goal, and to Doneil Henry for his solid performance at CB.

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