It may be just a Portland Timbers audition, testing out their second string and giving their trialists yet another look, but the Timbers have looked sharp against the Vancouver Whitecaps in the second match of the Cascadia Summit. Well, they looked sharp up until the own goal, that is. But let's start from the beginning.
Portland gave a rest to almost all the players who participated in Friday's 2-0 win over the Seattle Sounders, not even putting their heroes on the bench. Instead they trotted out a list of alternates who immediately dominated the match. We'd say that Vancouver were having a bit of jet lag, but although the team had to pass across the border there's no time change there. Instead, they were simply outplayed for the first thirty minutes of the match.
The Timbers first goal came at the fifth minute, when 'Caps goalkeeper Jay Nolly came out to knock away Brian Umony's shot. Unfortunately for Nolly, the ball merely fell to the feet of Ryan Pore, who neatly tapped it in. Pore's had an outstanding match thus far for Portland, playing across the width of the pitch and irritating the Vancouver defense. If he's on the Timbers second string, this could be a dangerous team.
After the first thirty minutes or so, Vancouver finally found their way into the match. It took forward Atiba Harris that long to settle into it, with Harris electing to nudge the ball toward goal rather than shoot on his first attempt. He then hit the post from distance but no one was there to knock it in, and missed by just inches a couple minutes later.
Despite the hard work of Harris, in the end it was a Portland own goal that put Vancouver level. Blake Wagner sent in a shot from just outside the box. Timbers goalkeeper Adin Brown managed to save, but the deflection bounced off David Horst and into the net.
And so we head to the second half with the scoreline level at 1-1. These Portland players are determined to convince John Spencer that they deserve a spot in the starting XI -- if one puts the winner in against this Whitecaps team, it just might be enough.