The Portland Timbers flexed their defensive muscles and their offensive smarts as they defeated and eliminated the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-0 from the 2015 Major League Soccer (MLS) Cup Playoffs. The Timbers went to BC Place and shocked the Whitecaps on Sunday, and now they are headed to their second Western Conference Finals in two years.
“I think we managed both legs really well. We didn’t give up the away goal which led into this game,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said after the match. “We knew they would want to come out, and yet we wanted to be aggressive as well. We went for the first goal, and we got it.”
The Caps produced 12 shots in the game. Portland’s defense was stingy and nothing came easy for Vancouver. The Whitecaps only placed two shots on target in the match and only completed 73 percent of their passes.
However, the Caps nearly took the lead in the eighth minute when midfielder Kekuta Manneh took a long range shot. His shot bounced in the penalty box and flew past the outstretched hands of Adam Kwarasey. The ball dinged off the left hand post and then ricocheted of the Portland keepers back. Instead of the ball bouncing into the net the ball flew just wide left.
There were a few shaky moments for the Timbers afterwards but Kwarasey was there to stop it. The Ghanaian international and Timbers goalie made two saves in the match and his defense kept on frustrating Vancouver’s offense by clearing 27 of their attacks. The midfield off Portland also slowed down the Canadians club attack by winning the battle of possession with 53.4 percent.
“You saw the possession that we had and we were able to keep them from attacking by doing that, and keep them from playing the transition game they like to play by slowing the tempo down with the ball,” Caleb said. “We were very patient and organized and they had a hard time breaking us down and then we found the counterattack, which I knew would be on as they tried to push because they needed two goals after we found the first one. So I thought it was very well managed overall.”
The Timbers were in control of the match and they silenced the 27,837 fans in the BC Place when Fanendo Adi broke the deadlock in the 31st minute. The Nigerian native placed himself in the heart of the penalty box and in prime position to take a close range shot.
Rodney Wallace started the play by sending Diego Valeri in the box with a direct pass. Then the Argentinean playmaker was near the end line and running towards the goal until two Vancouver defenders were cutting off his angle. However, at the last second he sent a pass towards Adi. The striker then blasted a shot into the roof of the net to make it 1-0.
With Adi’s goal the Timbers took complete control of the series going up 1-0 in aggregate. What also helped was that they scored an away goal, something the Caps failed to do in game one at Providence Park on November 1st. The Whitecaps now had to respond by scoring two goals which seemed unlikely to happen. The Timbers defense kept on the pressure as the Caps struggled to string passes when it matter. The Canadians only completed 50 percent of their passes in the final third, compared to Portland’s 76 percent.
Portland kept searching for goals as they created 14 chances and placed five of them on target. However, Vancouver’s goalkeeper David Ousted was doing his part to keep his club alive. The Danish native made three saves in the game.
However, Ousted efforts went in vein as Diego Chara sealed the victory at the 94th minute. Adi came running down the field heading towards the PK box with the ball. He was closely followed by two defenders. Before the Whitecap defenders were able to steal the ball from him, he crossed the ball to Chara.
The Colombian native was getting ready to fire off a shot when he pulled the ball back. By doing that, a defender flew by him and Chara took his time and placed his shot into the bottom right hand corner to end the game 2-0 and send them to the Western Conference Finals.
“It was fantastic,” Timbers defender and designated player Liam Ridgewell said after the 2-0 victory. “The goal at the end certainly put the nail in the coffin. Everyone celebrating together was fantastic. That’s what we’ve been about over the last two and half months. Riding the wave, everyone together. We’re looking to do that next game.”
Portland will now be facing FC Dallas in a two leg series to decide who will represent the West in the MLS Cup Final. Portland will host the first match on November 22nd at Providence Park.