PORTLAND, OREGON – Marco Bustos scored in his second straight match but it wasn’t enough as a youthful Vancouver Whitecaps FC side fell 2-1 to Timbers 2 (T2) in a closed-door preseason friendly Saturday night at Providence Park.
After T2 took an early 1-0 lead, Bustos brought the game level for Whitecaps FC in the 53rd minute, finishing from inside the box after receiving a feed from fellow Residency grad Kianz Froese.
But Portland’s new United Soccer League side responded against the run of play in the 66th minute to secure a victory in their first-ever match.
The ‘Caps coaching staff decided to field a young group on Saturday -a day before their Simple Invitational opener against the host PortlandTimbers. Every single outfield player in Vancouver’s lineup was 24 years old or younger. Midfielder Gershon Koffie, who missed Vancouver’s last three matches with an illness, wore the captain’s armband for the Blue and White.
T2 also rolled out a youthful squad in their first-ever competitive match. And it was the home team that struck first in the sixth minute.
Fatawu Safiu scored the first-ever goal for T2, poking it past a charging Paolo Tornaghi after receiving a nice little ball from Brent Richards. Safiu’s tally was the first goal Tornaghi has conceded in four preseason appearances.
From there, Whitecaps FC started to take over.
Fullbacks Sam Adekugbe and Ethen Sampson were very involved along the flanks and Nicolas Mezquida looked lively as usual, but hometown boy Erik Hurtado had Vancouver’s best chances to equalize.
In the 11th and 15th minutes, the Beaverton, Oregon resident forced T2 goalkeeper Justin Luthy into making two diving saves on a pair of well-taken strikes.
Hurtado came close again at the 30-minute mark. This time, Adekugbe sent in a low cross to Hurtado at the back post but a T2 defender managed to deflect the cross out for a corner just in the nick of time. Despite dominating possession and controlling the run of play, the Blue and White entered the break down 1-0.
T2 got off to a strong start to the second half and nearly doubled their lead in the 52nd minute, when trialist Eueller Rodriguez ripped a 25-yard strike off the crossbar.
Less than a minute later, Whitecaps FC found their equalizer – thanks to a Residency connection.
Froese played the ball to Bustos’ feet in the left side of the box and the 18-year-old fired it into the bottom right corner to bring the game level.
The ‘Caps kept coming in search of a go-ahead marker.
In the 55th minute, Hurtado directed a low Sampson cross towards goal but second-half T2 keeper Daniel Withrow was there to make a goal line save. Withrow made another key save off a heavy Robert Earnshaw strike from the top of the box in the 62nd minute.
Whitecaps FC made a number of subs around the hour-mark, including the introduction of Colombian trialists Ruben Anchico and Harold Gomez, and the Blue and White continued to control the run of play. But T2 caught the ‘Caps on the counter in the 66th minute and took their second lead of the match, when Rodriguez blasted in a left-footed strike from inside the area.
Vancouver had a few late opportunities to equalize through Earnshaw and Froese, but fell just short in the end. There’s little time to rest for Whitecaps FC, who kick off the Simple Invitational preseason tournament on Sunday against Cascadia rival Portland Timbers.
6′ – POR – Fatawu Safiu (Brent Richards)
53′ – VAN – Marco Bustos (Kianz Froese)
66′ – POR – Eueller Rodriguez
Shots: Portland 5 – Vancouver 9
Shots on Goal: Portland 3 – Vancouver 6
Saves: Portland 5 – Vancouver 1
Fouls: Portland 6 – Vancouver 7
Offsides: Portland 1 – Vancouver 3
Corners: Portland 1 – Vancouver 8
67′ – POR – T2 Trialist
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
70.Paolo Tornaghi; 27.Ethen Sampson (41.Jackson Farmer 64′), 26.Tim Parker, 18.Diego Rodriguez (22.Christian Dean 57′), 3.Sam Adekugbe (35.Harold Gómez 64′); 30.Ben McKendry, 28.Gershon Koffie (37.Mitch Piraux 57′); 38.Kianz Froese, 9.Nicolas Mezquida (8.Robert Earnshaw 57′), 32.Marco Bustos (42.Ruben Anchico 64′); 19.Erik Hurtado (34.Caleb Clarke 59′)