PORTLAND, OREGON – In the build-up to Sunday night’s Simple Invitational opener, Carl Robinson said there’s no such thing as a “friendly” between Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers.
He wasn’t kidding.
Whitecaps FC came away with a 1-0 win over their Pacific Northwest rivals Sunday in a heated preseason Cascadia derby that saw 43 fouls, eight cautions, and two Timbers players sent off.
Former Timbers centre back Pa-Modou Kah scored the game’s only goal in the 31st minute, propelling Vancouver to victory in his first match against his old team.
With the win, the ‘Caps conclude Day 1 of the Simple Invitational in first place – Chicago Fire and Norwegian side Stabaek Fotball played to a scoreless draw earlier in the day.
Robinson fielded his strongest lineup of the preseason on Sunday night, with First Kick against Toronto FC just under two weeks away (single match tickets on sale now).
In midfield, Matias Laba and Russell Teibert formed a partnership in the front of the back line, while wingersMauro Rosales and Kekuta Manneh, playmaker Pedro Morales, and lone striker Octavio Rivero made up the attacking foursome in Robinson’s 4-2-3-1 formation.
If there were any questions about what level of intensity we’d see in this preseason fixture, they were put to rest early on. Kah set the tone in the opening minute with a hard slide tackle on Timbers striker Fanendo Adi – one of 15 first-half fouls between the two teams.
Kah would later be shown a yellow card for a tackle on Gaston Fernandez, while Rodney Wallace picked up a caution for the Timbers. By the end of the match, all four of the game’s starting centre backs had been shown at least one yellow card.
There were a number of physical collisions in the opening frame, including one between Laba and Fernandez in the sixth minute and another inadvertent collision between Morales and Ben Zemanski in the 23rd minute. The latter resulted in Zemanski being stretchered off the pitch with a torn ACL.
There was also some good soccer on display. Portland had the better chances in the early stages and right back Alvas Powell was particularly involved.
Powell had a pair of opportunities in the 16th and 17th minutes. First, a flicked-on corner found him at the back post before he sailed his attempt high and wide. And then Powell sent a well-taken left-footed volley just over the goal from the top of the box.
After weathering the early storm, the ‘Caps began to settle in and show some quality of their own. They looked comfortable in possession for stretches and eventually scored the game’s opening goal just after the half-hour mark.
Kah became the eighth Whitecaps FC player to score this preseason in the 31st minute, heading in a pinpoint Rosales cross at the top of the six-yard box to put the visiting ‘Caps ahead.
Portland had a good chance to equalize in the 39th minute, but a sliding Beitashour block on Wallace kept Vancouver’s advantage intact heading into halftime.
And the intensity level between the two teams continued after the break.
Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell was called for a foul on what appeared to be an elbow to the back of Rivero’s head – moments before the ‘Caps striker headed a Rosales cross just wide.
And then, in the 60th minute, Wallace was sent off after taking down Waston and picking up his second yellow card of the match
In the midst of all that, Manneh came close to doubling Vancouver’s advantage with a pair of opportunities from in and around the box.
Whitecaps FC were in control for the final half hour, but there were some scary moments in the dying stages. In the 86th minute, Ousted came up with an important save off a heavy Dairon Asprilla strike from about 25 yards.
Ridgewell had another opportunity on the ensuing corner – just a few minutes before he was sent off for picking up his second yellow card.
In the end, the Blue and White held on for the win in a match that certainly didn’t feel like a preseason fixture in February.
The ‘Caps continue the Simple Invitational on Wednesday night against Norwegian side Stabaek Fotball. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m. PT at the match will be streamed live on whitecapsfc.com.
31′ – VAN – Pa-Modou Kah (Mauro Rosales)
Shots: Portland 9 – Vancouver 13
Shots on Goal: Portland 1 – Vancouver 1
Saves: Portland 0 – Vancouver 1
Fouls: Portland 19 – Vancouver 24
Offsides: Portland 3 – Vancouver 3
Corners: Portland 5 – Vancouver 0
22′ – VAN – Pa-Modou Kah
30′ – POR – Rodney Wallace
54′ – POR – Liam Ridgewell
60′ – POR – Rodney Wallace
66′ – VAN – Kendall Waston
80′ – POR – Nat Borchers
88′ – VAN – Nicolas Mezquida
89′ – POR – Liam Ridgewell
60′ – POR – Rodney Wallace
89′ – POR – Liam Ridgewell
12.Adam Kwarasey; 2.Alvas Powell, 7.Nat Borchers, 24.Liam Ridgewell, 19.Jorge Villafana; 6.Darlington Nagbe, 21.Diego Chara, 14.Ben Zemanski (13.Jack Jewsbury 25′), 22.Rodney Wallace; 10.Gaston Fernandez (11.Dairon Asprilla 64′), 9.Fanendo Adi (37.Maximiliano Urruti 72′)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 4.Kendall Waston, 44.Pa-Modou Kah (18.Diego Rodriguez 66′), 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matias Laba (28.Gershon Koffie 76′), 31.Russell Teibert; 7.Mauro Rosales (19.Erik Hurtado 58′), 77.Pedro Morales (9.Nicolas Mezquida 76′), 23.Kekuta Manneh; 29.Octavio Rivero (11.Darren Mattocks 76′)