Three Kicks: Whitecaps FC lose 4-2 in testy match in Portland

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Image: Portland Timbers / Facebook

Prior to Sunday’s match against the Portland Timbers, the Vancouver Whitecaps (6W-6L-2D, 20pts – 4th Western Conference) had won three out of their last five matches, and had finally appeared to have turned their season around.

Today, the Timbers scored early and often, defeating the Whitecaps 4-2.

Despite the loss the Whitecaps still top the Cascadia Cup standings with 6 points, but do not play another Cascadia match until September 17th.

1. One controversial penalty call

After going into the half time break down by two goals, Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson told TSN that the next goal would be crucial. Robinson and the Whitecaps didn’t have to wait long to get back into the match when Kekuta Manneh scored his fourth goal of the season in the 49th minute.

The ‘Caps pressed hard to find an equalizer and came close several times, but were dealt a crushing blow when Pa-Modou Kah was judged to have handled the ball late in the match. Dairon Asprilla scored from the penalty spot, putting Portland in front 3-1, but the question lingered: did Kah actually handle the ball?

While none of the television angles appeared to show conclusive evidence that the ball touched Kah’s hand or arm, it could still have been a handball. Officials are trained that if the ball strikes the body beyond the shoulder seam of the shirt it is a handball. Perhaps referee Ted Unkel had a better view of where the ball actually struck Kah, and this is the best view of what happened:

So, was it a penalty or not? You be the judge.

2. (Another) bad day at the office for the defence

The Whitecaps rarely win matches when they concede the first goal in a match. When these two teams met at BC Place two weeks ago, the Whitecaps’ 2-1 win was their first come-from-behind win since September of 2014.

It seems fairly obvious that if the Whitecaps have to get out front and score first if they are to have any chance of winning a match.

On Sunday afternoon, however, they fell behind early after Kah made one of his trademark gaffes just three minutes into the match.

Kah failed to connect clearly with the ball in front of his own goal and then clumsily ran into Portland’s Jack McInerny. The incident left Unkel with little choice but to award the penalty, which was converted by Diego Valeri.

As much as Kah’s mistakes cost the Whitecaps today, his defensive partner Kendall Waston had an equally bad day at the office.

In the 29th minute Waston slipped on the turf giving McInerny time and space in the front of the Whitecaps’ goal. McInerny took full advantage of Waston’s slip, and beat David Ousted at the back post to make it 2-0 for the Timbers.

Sadly for Waston, his contributions in this match will most likely be remembered for his tackle on Asprilla after the full time whistle had been blown. Waston was shown a red card for the tackle, and could be subject to supplemental discipline from the league.

Not a great way for the big Costa Rican centreback to head off to the Copa America Centenario.

3. Three strike(r)s and you’re out

The Whitecaps’ woes scoring goals earlier this season have been well documented, but it seemed as though they had become a thing of the past with their recent run of good form. In their previous six matches the ‘Caps had scored fifteen goals and appeared to be rolling, but there was a catch.

Stiker Masato Kudo has been sidelined indefinitely with a broken jaw that he suffered in the match against the Chicago Fire. Octavio Rivero has been limited to the substitutes bench since he sprained his left ankle at Yankee Stadium, and Blas Pérez did not train much this past week because of the flu.

Robinson’s choice to start at striker on Sunday was Erik Hurtado. Hurtado, who hails from nearby Beaverton, Oregon, has been enjoying somewhat of a renaissance in recent weeks, but was unable to find a goal for his team.

Hurtado and Cristian Techera made way for Pérez and Rivero in the 67th minute, and both players were to figure later in the match.

The Timbers’ Liam Ridgewell made a risky tackle on Pérez, but referee Unkel judged that the tackle was clean and did not award a penalty. In the 84th minute Ridgewell did run afoul of Unkel when he pulled down Rivero and Pedro Morales duly converted the penalty kick.

The Whitecaps’ strikers now have a week to heal up and get healthy before facing Houston Dynamo at BC Place.

MATCH DETAILS
Man of the Match: Kekuta Manneh
Referee: Ted Unkel
Attendance: 21,144

Scoring Summary
4’ – POR – Diego Valeri (penalty kick)
29’ – POR – Jack McInerney (Lucas Melano, Ben Zemanski)
49’ – VAN – Kekuta Manneh
78’ – POR – Dairon Asprilla (penalty kick)
82’ – POR – Darlington Nagbe
84’ – VAN – Pedro Morales (penalty kick)

Stats
Shots: Portland 20 – Vancouver 16
Shots on Goal: Portland 8 – Vancouver 4
Saves: Portland 2 – Vancouver 4
Fouls: Portland 10 – Vancouver 11
Offsides: Portland 5 – Vancouver 2
Corners: Portland 5 – Vancouver 7

Cautions
30’ – VAN – Erik Hurtado
41’ – POR – Jack McInerney
46’ – VAN – Tim Parker
80’ – VAN – Pedro Morales
81’ – VAN – Jordan Harvey

Ejection
90’+5’ – VAN – Kendall Waston

Portland Timbers
90.Jake Gleeson; 4.Jermaine Taylor, 24.Liam Ridgewell, 7.Nat Borchers, 16.Zarek Valentin; 14.Ben Zemanski, 21.Diego Chara; 6.Darlington Nagbe, 8.Diego Valeri (13.Jack Jewsbury 86’), 26.Lucas Melano (11.Dairon Asprilla 62’); 99.Jack McInerney (25.Neco Brett 90’+3’)

Substitutes not used
33.Wade Hamilton, 10.Ned Grabavoy, 15.Chris Klute, 23.Jack Barmby

Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 26.Tim Parker, 4.Kendall Waston, 44.Pa-Modou Kah (11.Nicolás Mezquida 90’+1’), 2.Jordan Harvey; 7.Christian Bolaños, 77.Pedro Morales, 15.Matías Laba, 13.Cristian Techera (27.Blas Pérez 67’); 23.Kekuta Manneh; 19.Erik Hurtado (29.Octavio Rivero 67’)

Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 6.Jordan Smith, 17.Andrew Jacobson, 31.Russell Teibert

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Mark Dailey I have an unhealthy obsession with the soccer, Formula 1 and good coffee. I also co-host "From the Backline", which is a podcast (mostly) dedicated to the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, MLS and all things soccer.
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