PORTLAND, OR – Make it back-to-back Cascadia victories for Whitecaps FC 2.
Thomas Sanner scored in the 84th minute and Sean Melvin put in an outstanding five-save performance in his first appearance of the season, leading WFC2 to a 1-0 victory over Portland Timbers 2 on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park.
The young ‘Caps are now unbeaten in three matches after dropping their season opener.
For the second straight match, WFC2 head coach Rich Fagan fielded a 3-1-4-2 formation after last weekend’s 3-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC 2. Fagan’s starting XI was made up of five Canadians and three first-teamers, as centre backs Christian Dean and Cole Seiler and midfielder Ben McKendry got the nod for the United Soccer League side.
The Timbers, meanwhile, trotted out an experienced side that featured eight players from their Major League Soccer roster, including goalkeeper Jeff Attinella, fullbacks Chance Myers and Vytautas Andriuskevicius, and former English Premier League midfielder Jack Barmby.
As you’d expect with that sort of lineup, the Timbers controlled the run of play in the opening frame and looked the more dangerous side. Their best chance came in the 33rd minute, when Victor Arboleda got in behind on a blazing counter that nearly spanned the full length of the pitch. But Melvin rose to the occasion with an important left foot save.
WFC2 didn’t have much of the ball in the first half, but they still managed to create a couple decent opportunities. And they both came in the form of McKendry crosses to Sanner – one that was just out of his reach and another that was cleared by a T2 defender.
The young ‘Caps moved onto the front foot after the break, which made for an entertaining, back-and-forth second half. T2 still had the better chances, however, forcing Melvin into a pair of massive saves on Arboleda and Barmby just after the hour mark. Barmby came close again in the 78th minute, but this time Seiler saved the day with a last-ditch sliding block.
Vancouver defended with their lives throughout the match – and got their reward in the end.
In the 84th minute, Sanner tapped in a rebound off a Gloire Amanda strike after a clinical counter that started with a Francis de Vries clearance at the centre of Vancouver’s box and was led forward by Will Seymore.
WFC2 will look to make it three straight wins next Saturday when they host San Antonio FC at 3 p.m. PT in their UBC Home Opener at Thunderbird Stadium.