The Portland Timbers jumped above the Vancouver Whitecaps, their Cascadia rivals, to take the top seed in the Western Conference for their second time in their history.
After Kendall Waston headed home the opener for Vancouver, the Timbers equalized through their captain, Liam Ridgewell. Darren Mattocks fired home the winning goal in the opening minutes of the second half, sending his team to the top of the Western Conference table with the Cascadia Cup in hand via a 2-1 win.
Despite the Timbers controlling much of the run of play in the opening half hour, it was the Whitecaps jumping on top via a 29th minute free kick. Kendall Waston rose to Yordy Reyna’s well placed free kick for a simple header past a helpless Jeff Attinella.
The Timbers, however, responded quite nicely. Aly Ghazal needlessly headed a cross out for a header in the 31st minute, setting up the set piece that would provide the equalizer. The take fell to Darlington Nagbe, who saw his shot saved, but the rebound spilled right to Liam Ridgewell, who slotted over a prone Stefan Marinovic.
Portland had some near misses before the break that prevented them from taking the lead. The best of them came from a counter attack ending in Nagbe picking out Sebastian Blanco near the left post, but he skied his shot over the gaping net. They also had a chance cleared off the line in stoppage time by Jake Nerwinski.
The Timbers jumped right on their opponents out of the gate in the second half. It took less than three minutes for them to finish the first chance of the frame. Darren Mattocks provided the finish, but Vytautas Andriuskevicius deserves the bulk of the credit for latching onto Blanco’s through pass ahead of the keeper to set up the shot.
The Whitecaps began to look increasingly dangerous as the half wore on as the Timbers began to sit back and concentrate on defending their lead. Vancouver almost found an equalizer in the 85th minute when Waston had a pair of close range headers. One was cleared off the line and the second floated well over the crossbar.
Portland’s chances were mostly quick hits on the counter, but they didn’t need another goal. They held firm at the back and took home the Western Conference’s regular season title with a 2-1 victory.
They will move on to the Western Conference semi-finals next weekend, where they await the lowest seeded team to advance from the knockout rounds.
The Whitecaps, meanwhile, fall to third place in the West and will have to face the San Jose Earthquakes at BC Place in midweek.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Darren Mattocks, Portland’s recent breakout forward, scored the winner early in the second half to cap off a strong performance overall.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Mattocks banged home the winner in the 48th minute, giving the Timbers the top seed in the Western Conference.
MATCH TO FORGET
Stefan Marinovic had a rough afternoon in the Vancouver goal. He spilled the rebound leading to the first Portland goal and lost a foot race t a 500-50 ball with Vytas leading up to the winner.