Everything was in place for it to be a night to remember. This game, had all the makings of a match for the history books – rivalry, and an electric atmosphere.
It was the first time ever that the ‘Caps hosted a playoff game, and even had 6000 more seats made available at BC Place. Adding to the drama, the ‘Caps were up against one of their Cascadia rivals, the Portland Timbers. A Timbers team, that for much of the season struggled, and with many doubts surrounding the coach, was able to turn their fortunes around, and find a winning rhythm.
After the first leg ended in a 0-0 draw, Portland was headed to Vancouver hoping to capitalize on the away goal rule. The ‘Caps, however, were just hoping to play the defense they’ve been playing all season. The defense, that has earned Watson and Ousted, nominations for defender and goalkeeper of the year, respectively. In addition to solid defense, there was a bigger task at hand, to put the ball in the back of the net.
Putting the Houston game aside, you’d have to go back to Sept 9th to find the last MLS game, where the Whitecaps scored a goal, and won. It’s something the team has recognized, with coach Robinson saying, “We haven’t been able to [score]. Not just for tonight, but for a number of games this year”.
Robinson needed a solution to the goal drought, so he started, Pedro Morales. Morales, the ‘Caps captain, is known for his creativity and ball distribution, and is also capable of producing moments of individual brilliance. And in big games, where the game can be influenced or defined by a moment, these are characteristics, that as a coach, you’d wish to have on the field.
The game itself started off well for the ‘Caps, with Manneh seeing an early chance go out off the post, but it only got worse. Manneh, who was arguably the most involved player in those first few minutes, had to be subbed out due to an ankle sprain, and shortly after, the Timbers managed to break the deadlock.
It wouldn’t be until second-half additional time that we’d see another goal. Unfortunately, it was another one for Portland, and was followed by the final whistle. With that, the Vancouver Whitecaps have now been eliminated from the playoffs.
At the hands of the Portland Timbers, the Whitecaps season has now been axed.