Timbers down Whitecaps in Cascadia rivalry
PORTLAND — A three-game losing streak gave the Portland Timbers an edge rather than a lack of confidence.
Diego Valeri scored on a penalty kick in the opening minutes and the Timbers rolled to a 4-2 victory over the Cascadia Cup rival Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday.
"When you have a good group of guys and you don't win games you get a little angry," Portland coach Caleb Porter said. "Our guys looks looked like they were confident this week and had that little bit of hunger to go into this game and prove that we're better than we've been. These guys know we're a good team."
Jack McInerney, Dairon Asprilla and Darlington Nagbe also scored for the Timbers, who led 2-0 at the half.
Kekuta Manneh and Pedro Morales scored for Vancouver. The Whitecaps had won three straight.
Three of the goals came on PKs, two for Portland (Valeri and Asprilla) and one for Vancouver (Morales).
"Ultimately, you take those PKs out and we were the better team," Porter said. "Easily at halftime we could have been up three or four to zero."
Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson showed restraint in speaking about the officiating, especially after the Whitecaps narrowed the score to 2-1 early in the second half.
"Well, I've got to be careful with what I say, but a hundred percent, it was taken out of our hands. We didn't play well and I can't sit here and say we played well in the first half. We were not at the races. Second half, we were at the races," Robinson said. "We had good momentum, we were playing well, we were creating chances. And then a key decision at a key moment. If you're not sure, I've been told a thousand times, if you're not sure, you can't give it. And it was given."
The match was part of Major League Soccer's Rivalry Week, but the rivalry between the Timbers and the Whitecaps stretches back to 1975 when both teams were part of the NASL — long before either team joined MLS.
Fans of the two teams, along with supporters of the Seattle Sounders, created the Cascadia Cup in 2004 for the winner of the three-way contest between the teams, based on points. The Sounders are the reigning Cascadia Cup champions.
Portland, the reigning MLS Cup champion, has been crushed by injuries this season. The latest was to top scorer Fanendo Adi, who injured his hamstring last weekend in a 2-1 loss at home to New York City FC, and didn't play Sunday. Adi has eight goals this season, matching Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco and NYCFC's David Villa for the league lead.
But the Timbers saw the return of Diego Chara, who did not play in the NYCFC match because of an injured toe.
Valeri's PK came in the fourth minute after former Timber Pa-Modou Kah took down McInerney in the box. McInerney scored in the 29th minute when defender Kendall Watson slipped and his strike slipped by goalkeeper David Ousted.
The Whitecaps narrowed it to 2-1 on a deflected goal from Manneh.
Asprilla scored in the 78th minute on a penalty kick following a handball called on Kah. Nagbe curled a free kick from some 25 yards out about four minutes later to give Portland a 4-1 lead.
Vancouver captain Morales scored on a penalty kick in the 84th minute.
The match got chippy at times, particularly in the final minutes when Watson was shown a red card for a sliding tackle into Asprilla after the final whistle had apparently sounded.
Nagbe was called up to the U.S. national team Saturday as part of the 23-man squad for next month's Copa America. He started for the Timbers on Sunday but is expected to join the United States before Wednesday's match against Ecuador in Frisco, Texas, and next Saturday's match against Bolivia in Kansas City, Kansas.
Portland's Jermaine Taylor was named to Jamaica's Copa America team, while Vancouver's Watson and Christian Bolanos were named to Costa Rica's roster. Blas Perez was named to Panama's team.