PORTLAND, OREGON – The 2017 preseason drew to a close on Wednesday evening as Vancouver Whitecaps FC suffered a 2-1 loss to host Portland Timbers in their final tuneup match at Providence Park.
Cristian Techera came on in the second half for the ‘Caps to drill a direct free kick goal in the 84th minute, but it would not be enough as Timbers built an insurmountable lead in the first half behind goals from Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi.
With the result, the ‘Caps wrap up their preseason campaign with a 2W-2L-2D record and turn their sights to the CONCACAF Champions League matchup versus New York Red Bulls. Vancouver’s historic first foray the tournament’s quarterfinal round begins with the road leg at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, February 22. The return leg takes place on Thursday, March 2, at BC Place.
Head coach Carl Robinson made eight changes to his XI from last Sunday’s draw against Real Salt Lake, with Marcel de Jong, Russell Teibert, and Giles Barnes each getting the consecutive start, and de Jong sliding from the backline to the attacking wing.
The two sides traded half-chances in the opening minutes before Timbers found their groove attacking from the left side. Winger Darlington Nagbe and fullback Vytas connected twice in a two-minute span, first setting up a Valeri header to open the scoring in the 26th minute, then serving up a tidy Adi half-volley shortly after. The pair of technical finishes gave Portland a 2-0 lead heading into halftime.
‘Caps goalkeeper David Ousted continued to get tested in the second half but came up huge with a number of reaction saves, including a pair against Valeri and Timbers forward Darren Mattocks in the 73rd minute.
Whitecaps FC cut the lead in half in the 80th minute after substitute Kyle Greig drew a foul outside the top of the box. Techera converted on the ensuing direct free kick, finding the top-right corner of the net past Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson.
It was too little, too late, however, as the ‘Caps were forced to play the final minutes down a man after Yordy Reyna limped off the pitch with an apparent left foot injury and Robinson having already used up all of his field substitutes.
The ‘Caps now return to Vancouver following their 10-day preseason training camp in Portland tomorrow, to make their final preparations prior to next week’s Champions League road clash against New York. The team kicks off their home slate in two weeks, beginning with the Champions League second leg matchup versus Red Bulls on Thursday, March 2, then their MLS season opener against Philadelphia Union on Sunday, March 5.