Timbers beat Whitecaps 2-1, take Western Conference title
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Darren Mattocks scored early in the second half to give the Portland Timbers a 2-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday in their regular-season finale.
Portland (15-11-8) won the Western Conference title to earn a bye in the first round of the playoffs. The Timbers also won their second Cascadia Cup since joining MLS. The Cascadia Cup is a trophy created by the fans of Portland, Vancouver, and Seattle awarded to the best team in the Pacific Northwest.
“Thirty-four games is a long season. For us to be at the top of the West says everything about the guys I have in that locker room,” Portland coach Caleb Porter said. “We earned it and we deserved it.”
Vancouver (15-12-7) finished third in the West and will host the San Jose Earthquakes on Oct. 25 or 26 in the knockout round.
“We’ll recover tomorrow and we’ll go again,” Vancouver coach Carl Robinson said. “I don’t want them going out there being disappointed and sad and long-faced, because that’s not what it’s about. Now it’s ‘win or go home’”
Vancouver opened the scoring in the 29th minute, when Yordy Reyna’s free kick from 25-yards out found an unmarked Kendall Waston 8 yards from goal to head in his fourth goal of the season.
“It was a tactical battle,” Robinson said. “We got our noses in front, a great set piece and a great header by Kendall.”
Portland tied it three minutes later. A corner kick bounced through the box and found Darlington Nagbe at the top of the box. Nagbe’s shot was blocked by goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic, but Timbers defender Liam Ridgewell reacted instantly to throw a foot out and stab the ball past Marinovic.
“It was big,” Ridgewell said about the goal. “It was disappointing to concede when we did, but good to get the goal and go into the break at 1-1.”
Portland took the lead early in the second half, as some fancy footwork and a clever pass by Sebastian Blanco found Vytautas Andriuskevicius open near the goal line. The Timbers defender dragged a pass back to Mattocks, whose shot ping-ponged off of two Vancouver defenders on its way into the net for his ninth goal.
“The start of the second half, you saw how badly we wanted this game,” Porter said. “I thought our best period of play was the first 10 minutes of the second half.”
Vancouver started the game without goals leader Fredy Montero. The forward suffered an injury in training Thursday, and only entered the game in the 56th minute.
“He went out with a nasty knock in training, so I made the decision (to not start Montero),” Robinson said. “I knew we would have another game. I didn’t know when it would be, so I made the call.”