Blasco hero again as Whitecaps FC2 win Cascadia derby

In the second game of a three-game homestand, Whitecaps FC2 defeated rivals Portland Timbers 2 at Thunderbird Stadium to win their third straight Cascadia derby match. Victor Blasco proved to be the hero once again, scoring the game winner in the 63rd minute to give Vancouver the victory.

“We’re obviously pleased to win,” said head coach Alan Koch. “The mandate is obviously to develop plays and give the guys opportunities but winning is a big part of that too. To get on a bit of a roll right now is great and we’d like to keep building on it.”

WFC2 looked solid throughout the first half hour and had a perfect opportunity to get on the board after Blasco was taken down at the edge of the 18. Portland keeper Justin Luthy, however, was able to get his hands on the header from Port Coquitlam native Tyler Rosenlund on the ensuing free kick. The best chance of the half for Vancouver came at the half hour mark when Billy Schuler centred for Blasco, who was able to get the shot off but Luthy was able to come across the face of goal and make the catch.

Despite the Whitecaps’ glorious chances, it was the Timbers who drew first blood in the 35th minute. Fatawu Safiu shook off pressure from Vancouver’s defensive midfielder Ben McKendry and blasted a rocket past Paolo Tornaghi from 25 yards out.

“Not pleased with the first half,” said Koch. “I thought we were very, very lacklustre in the first half. They clearly wanted it more than we did. I thought we were a little bit naïve on how we approached the first 45 minutes.”

After Koch addressed the team at halftime, Vancouver came out more aggressively and, just two minutes after the break, a cross from Andre Lewis found Tyler Rosenlund at the top of the box who roofed it beautifully into the top corner for his first of the season.

“The ref was actually in the way and I had to maneuver around him,” said Rosenlund. “It probably helped me out because I wasn’t able to put any power on it. I ended up finessing it and got some topspin on it because it was bouncing and it ended up going top corner. It was definitely good to get the first goal.”

After getting the equalizer, the Whitecaps continued to pressure the Timbers. In the 51st minute, Luthy was forced to make a stop from a sharp angle shot after a promising run by Victor Blasco. The Spanish midfielder was rewarded for his efforts in the 63rd minute when he took the pass from Billy Schuler and got around defender Brent Richards before curling it in from the edge of the six. The duo has proven to be effective offensively over the last two games.

“Billy Schuler has a great presence about him,” said Koch. “He’s very, very calm on the ball in the attacking third. He’s not only looking to score by himself but he’s also looking, if that’s not the best option, to find somebody else. Victor [Blasco] is making intelligent runs often and that’s obviously why he’s getting balls in great areas and obviously scoring goals.”

Vancouver refused to sit back after the Blasco goal. Looking for insurance in the 75th minute, Ben McKendry stole the ball from Timbers midfielder Tim Payne before side-footing the shot off the post. Defender Craig Nitti almost scored a potential goal of the year candidate in the 87th minute when he caught the Portland keeper off his line and ambitiously tried his luck from centre field. The long range attempt went off the crossbar but the Whitecaps were able to hang on for the win nonetheless.

Whitecaps FC2 have now won three out of their last four matches. They will return to Thunderbird Stadium on Wednesday to play the Colorado Springs Switchbacks before heading to Portland on the weekend for a derby rematch.