VANCOUVER, B.C. – In their final road game of the regular season, T2 scored two first-half goals to earn a 2-0 victory over Cascadia-rival Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 at Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday afternoon. With the win, T2 extended their current winning streak to four games, which is the longest in team history. Midfielder Neco Brett tallied his team-leading seventh goal of the season, while midfielder Villyan Bijev recorded his sixth goal and ninth assist of 2016.
With the victory, their third straight on the road, T2 (11-14-4, 37pts) now sit in ninth place in the Western Conference standings, one point behind San Antonio FC for the final playoff spot with one game to play in the regular season.
T2 opened the scoring in the 13th minute when Bijev found Brett on the left edge of the penalty area. Cutting in on his right foot, Brett unleashed a low-driven shot that made its way past Whitecaps FC 2 goalkeeper Marco Carducci and into the back of the net.
Bijev gave Portland a 2-0 lead just before halftime after a long ball into the penalty box was poorly handled by the Whitecaps 2 (11-9-9, 42pts). The Bulgarian midfielder was first to the ball and chipped Carducci, who initially made a fingertip save on the shot, but Bijev pounced on the rebound and slotted home from inside the six-yard box.
Goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh, who finished the match with a game-high five saves, recorded his fourth shutout of the season and T2’s sixth in 2016. McIntosh was forced into a save early on in the fifth minute after rushing off his line to deny forward Kyle Greig’s shot on goal that resulted in a Vancouver corner kick. In the 23rd minute, midfielder Kianz Froese fired an angled shot from the left edge of the penalty area that was caught by McIntosh. In the 78th minute, McIntosh made a diving save to his left on Vancouver midfielder Fatawu Safiu’s free-kick attempt. In stoppage time, Whitecaps FC 2 played a ball over the top of the T2 defense to Greig, but McIntosh came off his line to save the shot from inside the penalty area to preserve the shutout.
T2 created a number of scoring opportunities throughout the afternoon. Early on, a long throw from defender Brent Richards found Bjiev at the top of the 18-yard box. After taking a touch, Bijev’s effort was saved by Carducci in the seventh minute. Portland came close to scoring in the 84th minute off the counter attack after Bijev played a ball to second-half substitute Blake Bodily near the top of the penalty area and his right-footed effort just missed the target. One minute later, forward Augustine Williams turned his defender and fired a low-driven shot from outside the box that was parried away by Carducci in the 85th minute.
Next up, T2 close out the 2016 USL regular season when they play host to Arizona United SC at Merlo Field on Saturday, Sept. 24; kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (Pacific). The Sept. 24 match will also be available via a live, high-definition web stream at www.timbers2.com.
Postgame Quote Sheet
T2 head coach Andrew Gregor
On his overall thoughts on the match…
“I thought it was a good game for us. It was a difficult place to go play away from home against a very good opponent and I thought we managed the game very well. We took advantage of a couple of opportunities. From there, I thought we had good control of the game.”
On the performances of midfielders Neco Brett and Villyan Bijev throughout the four-game winning streak …
“They’ve been good impact players for us and they took their opportunities. Neco had a nice finish tonight at the near post and then Bijev just continues to work and work with a little bit of skill at the end to finish off a little bit of a mistake by Vancouver. There’s a belief in the group right now, there’s a belief in the individuals and it’s a real positive environment at the moment.”
On building off the four-game winning streak heading into the last game of the regular season with a chance to qualify for the playoffs…
“It’s a big opportunity. Arizona United is a well-coached team. They’ve got that have been around and so it’s going to be a difficult game for us. These are the games that you want at this time of the year. These are the games that mean something and they’re important. It helps with the development of the players and it gives them a challenge to see if they can get themselves into the playoffs. It’s got to be a game that everyone is looking at and wants to play in and wants to be a part of because it should be a big one.”
T2 (11-14-4, 37pts) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 (11-9-9, 42pts)
Sept. 18, 2016 – Thunderbird Stadium (Vancouver, B.C.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
T2 2 0 2
Whitecaps FC 2 0 0 0
POR: Brett (Bijev), 13
POR: Bijev, 43
VAN: McKendry (Caution), 8
POR: Thoma (Caution), 10
POR: Bijev (Caution), 34
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK McIntosh, D Richards, D Clarke ©, D Morley, D Thoma, M Lewis, M Damraoui (Besler, 66), M Arboleda (Bodily, 46), M Bijev (Casiple, 86), M Brett (Polk, 86), F Williams (Belmar, 86)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Luthy, D Gallagher
TOTAL SHOTS: 12; SHOTS ON GOAL: 4; CORNER KICKS: 3; SAVES: 5
VAN: GK Carducci, D Diaz (Safiu, 69), D Seiler, D Green, D Chung, M McKendry (Gardner, 46), M Froese (Haynes, 46), M Bustos (Sanner, 46), M Levis, F Haber (Campbell, 82), F Greig ©
Substitutes Not Used: GK Village, D Farmer
TOTAL SHOTS: 13; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 2
Referee: Alain Ruch
Assistant Referees: Chris Wattam, Candace Brown
4th Official: Juan Marquez
Weather: Partly cloudy, 67 degrees