With both the Whitecaps’ first and second teams playing in Portland over the July 18 weekend, the team’s faithful fans travelled down the I-5 in numbers to provide away support for their teams and battle the high temperatures down in lower Cascadia. The first team played the Timbers in an entertaining 1-1 draw Saturday in front of a sold out Providence Park. Whitecaps FC2, who are based out of UBC’s Thunderbird Stadium, played Timbers 2 the following day at Merlo Field at the University of Portland, losing 4 - 2.
Though hundreds of Whitecaps supporters were in attendance for the first team match, only about a dozen took the stands to see Whitecaps FC2. The fans that did stay for the match had the pleasure of seeing eight MLS players in action, including Welsh legend Robert Earnshaw. Earnshaw brought the travelling supporters to their feet early when he scored a penalty eight minutes in.
“Earnie is an absolute pro,” said head coach Alan Koch. “Obviously he hasn’t played in a little while so it was great to get him some minutes today. He showed that he earned the penalty kick and obviously had the composure to go out there and slot it.”
Vancouver’s advantage was short-lived, however, as the Timbers tied the match 10 minutes later as Kharlton Belmar got his head on a cross from Santiago Biglieri and headed the ball out of the reach of Whitecaps keeper Paolo Tornaghi. Things got worse for Vancouver just before the half hour mark when Fatawu Safiu, who scored at UBC against WFC2 last week, side-footed the ball in by the right post to give the Timbers a 2-1 lead.
The Whitecaps thought they had the equalizer minutes before halftime after Earnshaw headed the ball in off a feed from defender Craig Nitti but the Welsh striker was slightly offside on the play and the goal was disallowed. Vancouver’s misfortunes continued after halftime when, in the 48th minute, a header from Nitti went off the post and Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson robbed Erik Hurtado on the follow-up. The Whitecaps were punished for their lack of finishing four minutes later when George Fochive put home a rebound for T2 following an effort from Bilgieri that was cleared off the line by the Vancouver defence.
Vancouver did get one back in the 78th minute when Kianz Froese blasted a beauty into the top right corner. Blair Gavin sealed the deal for Portland in the 87th minute and T2 went on to win the match 4-2 amidst controversy from WFC2 about the game’s officiating.
Needless to say, the Vancouver coach was disappointed with how the match unfolded.
“We thought we could come here and get three points tonight,” said Koch. “We created enough opportunities so if we took them, we probably would have gotten three points…. We’re very disappointed to leave here with nothing.”
Whitecaps FC2 will return to UBC on Friday where they will attempt to continue their success at home against the Tulsa Roughnecks.