A first-time starter led the way for a very thin Portland Timbers squad as they took down Vancouver Whitecaps at BC Place on Sunday.
First round draft pick Jeremy Ebobisse scored one goal and provided the assist on the other to earn his side a 2-1 road victory in a Cascadia Cup match.
The Timbers came into this match depleted by injuries, international call-ups, and a red card suspension to Fanendo Adi. Their available squad was so thin, they had to sign a couple of USL players to short-term contracts and they still only dressed five substitutes for this game.
Despite this crutch, a decimated Portland drew first blood in the 14th minute. Dairon Asprilla picked out Jeremy Ebobisse at the edge of the six yard box, who poked the pass into the net to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
Vancouver was allowed to hold most of the possession after conceding, but it took them until the 39th minute to get a quality chance. Fredy Montero was able to get behind Portland’s makeshift back line on a through ball and got his shot past Jake Gleeson in goal, but Lawrence Olum was able to intervene before the ball crossed the line.
The equalizer arrived in the closing seconds of the first half. Tim Parker rose to meet an in-swinging corner and his header fell to the feet of Andrew Jacobson for an easy tap-in.
Portland wasn’t demoralized by the tying goal. They were able to regain the lead through a well-executed counterattack in the 49th minute. Ebobisse turned provider for this tally as his casual pass found Sebastian Blanco, who calmly slotted a shot inside the far post.
The Timbers eventually parked the bus for the closing minutes of the match. They subbed off Ebobisse in the 78th minute and essentially played the final 12 minutes without any sort of central forward. At this point, Vancouver was predictably allowed to shell the Portland goal with shots. Brek Shea had a great chance at the 80-minute mark from point blank range, but Gleeson stood strong in his goal and parried it away.
A couple more chances fell to the Caps, but nothing found the back of the net.
With this win, the Timbers ended their six-game winless streak. They also jump up to fourth place in the Western Conference. Portland continues on the road next week when they travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo on Saturday night.
The Whitecaps, meanwhile, missed a chance to leapfrog the Timbers and they remain three points back of their Cascadia rivals. The one saving grace they have in the standings right now is their three games in hand over most of the Western Conference competition. They face a tough road test against FC Dallas next Saturday.
Man of the Match
Jeremy Ebobisse had a very memorable first career start. He provided the opening goal and assisted on the Sebastian Blanco winner as well. The rookie appeared to age before our eyes as this match went on. He made the absence of Fanendo Adi a moot point when all was said and done.
Moment of the Match
Jake Gleeson had a to make a couple big saves in order to preserve this result. He robbed Brek Shea at the 80-minute mark and followed that with a stuffing of Tim Parker four minutes later. These two interventions surely kept the Timbers in the win column.
Match to Forget
For someone expected to be a creative force, Nicolas Mezquida was fairly absent in this match. He was subbed out at the hour mark with only 17 successful passes and zero shots to his name.