Well, it was a quiet week in Lake Wobegon, my hometown. Everyone down at the Chatterbox Cafe was wondering what was going on. Well, I'll tell you, it wa—What?! It's not NPR hour? I got confused as I went to a soccer game between the Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps and all I saw was a 0-0 tie in front of 9,017 at PGE Park.
After all the drama from a few days ago with the Seattle Sounders match, picking up a point against a first place team at home in league play to move into third place is not bad. Sure, a goal would have made things more interesting, but it was not through lack of trying. The Timbers outshot the Whitecaps 20-6 for the evening with Mandjou Keita nearly connecting on a beautiful header Vancouver keeper Jay Nolly just tipped over the bar in dying seconds of first half stoppage time. The Timbers dominated throughout the game and are unbeaten in their last three league matches. Moreover, they still have the edge on the Cascadia Cup with a win and a draw against Vancouver with two more left to go.
A few more thoughts with additional photos after the jump.
With Alex Nimo, Scot Thompson, Ross Smith, Ryan Pore, Bright Dike, and Takayuki Suzuki all beginning the game in reserve after spirited work against Seattle, it was interesting to see players like Rodrigo Lopez, Steve Purdy and Derek Guadet get the start. Much of the first half was a physical struggle of back and forth between the two teams, each fighting for possession. Defender Purdy had a laser of a shot in the 33rd minute that bounced off the keeper's chest and Lopez had a particularly good game taking most of the set piece shots and working well on the right flank.
Tactically, the second half addition of striker Bright Dike up top with Mandjou Keita was a push for the win. Both worked equally in attack with Dike's touch and distribution particularly smooth on a couple of set ups with midfielder Ryan Pore. The three did not hit the back of the net tonight, but the sum of those parts could make for some interesting games ahead—especially if Pore regains his early season scoring touch.
The true star of the evening was Mamadou "Futty" Danso in a quiet and rock solid performance. The Timbers defender did an excellent job of keeping the Timbers back line nearly impenetrable with timely clears and calm play. He almost had the gamewinner too with a shot that went off the bar. Portland goalkeeper Steve Cronin—wearing the captain's armband tonight—also picked up his sixth shutout of the season.
Full photo set from Alex McDougall.
POR: GK Cronin, D Purdy, D Keel, D Danso, D Cameron, M Lopez, M McManus, M Gaudet, M Josten (Pore, 71), F DeMartin (Dike, 63), F Keita
VAN: GK Nolly, D Knight, D Tsiskaridze, D Akwari, D Janicki, M Davies (Steele, 58), M Nash, M Bellisomo, M Wagner (Edwini-Bonsu, 78), F Stewart (Toure, A., 73), F Khalfan (Moose, 82)
Lineups courtesy of Portland Timbers.
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