MatchDay Preview: Timbers, Whitecaps seek to rebound from losses with big win
The MLS expansion class of 2011 meet for the first time in league competition when the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC renew their Cascadia Cup rivalry at Jeld-Wen Field. The Timbers are come off back to-back road losses, last a 3-1 midweek defeat at Sporting Kansas City. Whitecaps FC are coming off a second 4-0 defeat in three matches, last weekend at D.C. United.
The Portland Timbers went down to a second successive defeat at midweek, losing 3-1 to Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday evening at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park. The Timbers have 26 points from 24 games, sitting in seventh place in the Western Conference.
- Sporting took the lead after 25 minutes. A header from Chance Myers was cleared out of the area, but only as far as Graham Zusi, who teed the ball up from 25 yards and unleashed a spectacular drive into the top corner.
- SKC doubled their advantage five minutes before the half. C.J. Sapong flicked on Matt Besler’s long throw-in, but Portland 'keeper Troy Perkins saved Teal Bunbury’s first-time shot at the back post. But the rebound fell right to Zusi and he tucked it away from short range.
- The home side tacked on a third in strange fashion in the 72nd minute when center back Eric Brunner tried to clear a through ball for Soony Saad, but his clearance struck the rookie perfectly and looped an inch-perfect chip over scrambling Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins.
- The Timbers pulled a goal back in the 81st minute when Rodney Wallace drove a low ball across the penalty area, finding Bright Dike, who somehow slipped a first-time deflection past SKC goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen and inside the far post.
- Timbers coach John Spencer made two changes to the team that fell to a 2-1 defeat to the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium. Rodney Wallace came in for the suspended Lovel Palmer, and Jorge Perlaza replaced the injured Eddie Johnson.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-1-3-2): Troy Perkins - Mike Chabala, David Horst, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace, Diego Chara - Sal Zizzo (Kalif Alhassan 46), Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe (Brian Umony 60) – Kenny Cooper (Bright Dike 66), Jorge Perlaza.
The Timbers now revive their long-time rivalry with fellow MLS expansion outfit Vancouver Whitecaps FC five points out of the final wild-card position.
“It’s a tough week. I keep telling the players that it’s not an easy league to bring foreign players into and adapt right away. It’s a very physical league and a very underrated league so we need to get back we need to win games we want to make the playoffs the same as any other team in the country,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “But, the window’s slipping quickly.”
The Timbers return home for games against Vancouver and Chivas USA, but then another Eastern trip with back-to-back games at D.C. United and Philadelphia.
“Obviously getting two games back to back at home [will help],” Spencer said. “We’re a different team at home. We’re going to have to be better on the road to pick up a couple of wins for us to try and make playoffs. I don’t think we can just rely on winning at home.”
Jack Jewsbury recorded his team-leading seventh assist in his return to the place where he started his MLS career and played his first eight seasons.
“I think he’s been a great [player] here,” said Spencer. “Peter Vermes didn’t want to lose him. …We were delighted to get him. It’s a trade that at the end of the year it was one of the best trade pickups in the league this year in 2011.”
Making just his second league appearance of the season, rookie Bright Dike scored his first professional goal. He made his MLS debut Aug. 6 against San Jose after returning from a ruptured Achilles suffered during preseason.
“It’s good to build my confidence back up, but it was a good ball by Rodney [Wallace]. I just tried to get a foot onto it, but I really didn’t enjoy it that much,” Dike said. “Really, to be honest, I enjoyed the goal for a good five seconds. I’m just thinking about Vancouver now.”
- Rodney Wallace made his first start in five games, with Lovel Palmer suspended for caution accumulation. Wallace started the first 19 games of the season for Portland.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC were again hit for four goals, this time in a 4-0 loss to D.C. United on Saturday evening at RFK Stadium. Whitecaps FC have 18 points from 24 matches, sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference.
- United took the lead just before halftime. Dwayne De Rosario was at the heart of the move, dancing past Whitecaps FC defender Jay DeMerit in the right corner of the box before finding a sliding Chris Pontius to knock it home at the back post.
- Two minutes after the second-half restart, D.C. doubled its lead. Santino Quaranta sent a long, diagonal ball towards a streaking Andy Najar in the right corner, and he fired a low shot from almost on the end line that caught Vancouver goalkeeper Jay Nolly by surprise.
- United made it 3-0 in the 70th minute. Stephen King fired a shot from the top of the area that was deflected to the left, but right to Pontius, who hammered the rebound into the roof of the goal for his second on the night.
- De Rosario again played provider nine minutes from the end, getting forward on the right flank before rolling a square pass to King who drilled a left-footed shot past Nolly for the United fourth.
- Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn made one change to the team that defeated the Chicago Fire 4-2 at Empire Field. Jay DeMerit came into central defense for Alain Rochat.
- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-4-2): Jay Nolly - Jonathan Leathers, Jay DeMerit (Davide Chiumiento 62), Michael Boxall, Jordan Harvey - John Thorrington (Jeb Brovsky 70), Peter Vagenas (Mustapha Jarju 70), Gershon Koffie, Shea Salinas - Camilo, Eric Hassli.
Whitecaps FC matched their MLS record with four goals allowed in the loss to D.C. United – the second time in three games they’ve allowed four goals (also July 30 vs. LA Galaxy).
“It’s tough,” midfielder Peter Vagenas said. “We’ve said it before: We take one step forward and we take one step back. We had a great week of training. We came in prepared. In the second half, it just got away from us and it’s tough. It’s just tough right now. We’ve got to pick ourselves up and move on.”
Jay DeMerit made his first league appearance for Whitecaps FC since playing the first half on June 25 vs. Sporting Kansas City.
“You look at those X-factors throughout a game, whether it’s a clearance on the defensive end, or the finish on our offensive end. We seem to be on the short end of the stick too many times for that this year, and that means guys need to step up and be more accountable when it matters,” DeMerit said to TEAM 1040. “You look at general play throughout this season, we’ve been fine – it’s those X-factor moments that have cost us, and we need to continue to recognize when those happen and avoid them moving forward.”
DeMerit featured on the field with veteran John Thorrington for the first time this season. Thorrington was making a second consecutive start, playing 70 minutes.
“When you’ve been out for over a month, the only way you’re going to get game-fit is by playing games,” DeMerit said. “The progression always needs to be exactly that – a progression. I got a good half in during the reserve game this week, and today, the plan was to go 60 [minutes], and then hopefully go the full way next weekend.”
Davide Chiumiento made a third substitute appearance in the last four games; Mustapha Jarju also saw 20 minutes after missing the Chicago match entirely.
“It’s difficult to know going in that [DeMerit and Thorrington] are limited in their minutes because it binds you for subs,” Vancouver head coach Tom Soehn said. “But I’m happy they made it through, and hopefully, we can go over that hurdle to get full matches out of them.”
REFEREE: Jair Marrufo. SAR (bench): Corey Rockwell; JAR (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Jasen Anno. MLS Career: 119 games; FC/gm: 24.6; Y/gm: 3.2; R: 29; pens: 40
Sports Medicine Oregon INJURY REPORT
- PORTLAND TIMBERS -- OUT: GK Jake Gleeson (hamstring strain); DF Kevin Goldthwaite (L knee ACL rupture); FW Eddie Johnson (concussion); FW Spencer Thompson (R knee); PROBABLE: FW Bright Dike (L quad strain); MF Jack Jewsbury (hamstring strain); GK Troy Perkins (R hip soreness); DF Rodney Wallace (hamstring strain); MF Sal Zizzo (shoulder contusion)
- VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC – OUT: FW Atiba Harris (R knee surgery); MF Russell Teibert (R rib contusion); QUESTIONABLE: DF Alain Rochat (L adductor strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: VAN: Camilo, Alain Rochat
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: VAN: Michael Boxall, Jeb Brovsky, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey, Jonathan Leathers
- ALL-TIME: First meeting.
- RETURN MATCH: 10/2: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Portland Timbers, 1:30 p.m. PT (TSN)
- Coaches record: John Spencer v VAN: first game … Tom Soehn vs. POR: first game