Victoria Highlanders FC (6-2-1) traveled to McCulloch Stadium to take on Portland Timbers U23 (2-7-2) in the final 2019 regular season matchup between the two teams on Friday, June 28th. The Highlanders walked away with a 2-0 win with Victory Shumbusho recording a brace and Trevor Schneider picking up the clean sheet.
The Highlanders headed into the match looking to pull ahead of Calgary Foothills FC in the Northwest Division standings with a win over Portland Timbers U23 and potentially sweeping the season series against the Portland side.
The first half showed how much of difference home field advantage is for the Timbers and how their style changes as the host team. The home team was able to close the passing lanes and tighten up the midfield as the Highlanders, and both teams in general, were unable to get a lot of room to work with. Elyad Shojaei had the first chance of the match as he took a shot from the left wing that was bobbled initially before the goalkeeper managed to hang on to it.
Portland stormed right back with a couple of chances that came close to opening the scoring. After getting behind the Highlanders’ goalkeeper, the Portland forward shot into what he presumed was an open net until Joshua Banton raced back and cleared the ball from danger. In the 13th minute Schneider showed off his vertical jump as he was able to push a dangerous chance over the bar. The rest of the half was ruled by choppy play in the midfield and not much in the way of offensive chances. The game remained scoreless after 45 minutes of play.
The home side opened the scoring in the opening stages of the second half off a dangerous rush up front. Shumbusho cut across the box and fired it into the bottom right corner of the goal for the 1-0 lead in the 50th minute. Shortly after the opening goal Portland created a 2-on-1 scenario after one of their forwards intercepted a pass, but the shot from the left wing was turned aside by a diving Schneider. The Highlanders added to their lead in the 74th minute when Daniel Davidson’s cross was redirected by Shumbusho into the back of the net. The goal gave Shumbusho a brace and gave the visiting squad a 2-0 lead.
Portland had a corner opportunity in the late stages of the match and came away with a great scoring opportunity off a beautiful set up, but the play was deemed offside just as the ball was fired over the bar. The Highlanders tightened it up defensively in the closing moments as they controlled possession in the midfield and kept the Timbers to the outside. When the final whistle sounded, the Highlanders walked away with a 2-0 win and moved into first place in the Northwest Division, two points up on the idle Foothills.
“I am proud of the boys. Portland is a completely different team when they are playing at home,” stated Highlanders head coach Thomas Niendorf. “The Timbers were dangerous in the first half and created a couple of opportunities that we were able to overcome. In the second half we played our style and moved the ball better and it showed. There are still a few things that I saw that we can work on and tighten up, but overall it was a big win on the road. We of course know that the weekend has just begun, and we must look forward and focus on Sunday’s match against Lane United. Nothing comes easy in this league, and we must earn it. I’m proud of the guys as they showed that they are mentally strong and able to adapt when needed.”
VHFC: Victory Shumbusho 50’, Victory Shumbusho 74’ (Daniel Davidson)
VHFC: Elyad Shojaei 20’, Goteh Ntignee 73’
Victoria Highlanders FC
Schneider (GK); Banton, Adib, Ruby, Shojaei, Young, Cole (Hill 63’), Takano, Ntignee (Popadynetz 78’), Davidson, Shumbusho
Portland Timbers U23
Sequeira (GK); Lowe, Denis, Mehlich (Hubenya 78’), Roscoe, Prsa (Rudel 78’), Zhividze, Michaelson, Abe, Fitch, Fourrier
Victoria Highlanders are back in action on Sunday, June 30th as they travel to Eugene, Oregon to visit Lane United FC. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m. The Highlanders return to Centennial Stadium on Friday, July 5th for their final regular season home game of the 2019 season. They will welcome Vancouver TSS FC Rovers for the second leg of the Juan De Fuca Plate. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:15 p.m.