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Found 18 results

  1. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  2. REPORT: Well that's it all over for another season. Vancouver Whitecaps playoff dreams and MLS Cup hopes came crashing to a halt at BC Place on Sunday evening after an electrifying atmosphere and start fizzled out. What started out as a night to remember, ended as a night to forget, as goals from Fanendo Adi and Diego Chara gave Portland Timbers a fairly comfortable 2-0 win over a Whitecaps side that seemed short of ideas and any real attacking threat after Kekuta Manneh limped off with an ankle injury after just 26 minutes. Manneh had looked to be the game changer for Vancouver in a fast-paced start. As it turns out, he was, but it was due to his injury. The Whitecaps failure to get an away goal down in Portland also proved costly, as did their continued inability to turn their numerous chances into goals. Whitecaps' talismanic captain Pedro Morales returned to the starting line-up, in the only Vancouver change from the first leg, with Diego Chara returning to Portland's starting eleven. Only one of them was to have a huge influence in the game. Sadly for the 'Caps, it was Chara. With the first goal crucial, Vancouver attacked from the off and it was an electrifying start to the match from both teams. Kekuta Manneh was amped up for this one and causing the Timbers a lot of early problems. The Gambian fired a low shot narrowly wide right in the 6th minute, then followed it up moments later by running at the Portland defence and crashing another low shot off the left post, bouncing off the back of Timbers' keeper Adam Kwarasey and past for a corner. Diego Valeri had Portland's best chance in the 14th minute, with a long range curler that went wide. Vancouver's early pressure and efforts had come to nothing. It's something we've seen all season, with mixed results by the end of it. The 'Caps were then dealt a blow midway through the half when Manneh slipped and went over on his ankle and had to be replaced by Mauro Rosales. With two attacking midfielders now on the pitch that may struggle to see the end of the match, Vancouver's depth was going to be tested. Then things took an ever worse turn for the 'Caps in the 31st minute when the Timbers took the lead. Diego Valeri received the ball out left, hit the byeline and cut the ball back to an open Adi, who made no mistake in firing high into the Vancouver net. It was now looking to be a massive uphill battle for the Whitecaps. The away goal initially stunned Vancouver and BC Place, but the Whitecaps regrouped and finished the half strongly, with Kwarasey forced to tip an Octavio Rivero header over from under his bar, a minute before the break. Vancouver tried to take the game to Portland at the start of the second and had a couple of penalty shouts that were given no time by referee Elfath. The Timbers were looking comfortable and the 'Caps seemed to have nothing left to throw at them. David Ousted had to act quickly to keep out a Portland free kick that came through a mass of players untouched with ten minutes remaining. Vancouver weren't looking like getting one goal, never mind the two they needed, but as they pushed for any kind of consolation, Portland hit a second four minutes into stoppage time, when Chara buried an Adi layoff. 2-0 Portland and a trip to Dallas for their second Western Conference Championship game in two years now awaits the Timbers. Vancouver now have time to rest, reflect on what was a fairly successful year, regroup and fill that massive need that still remains in the goalscoring department. It's been a great year taken as a whole, but a horrible ending. Focus on the former will certainly come, but right now, it's hard to shake the latter. With the right additions and changes though, 2016 could be even better. But the bar is now set very high. Hopefully the 'Caps can still reach and get over it. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 - 0 Portland Timbers ATT: 27,837 VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour (Robert Earnshaw 82), Tim Parker, Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Gershon Koffie (Darren Mattocks 63), Cristian Techera, Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh (Mauro Rosales 26); Octavio Rivero [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Smith, Christian Dean, Russell Teibert] PORTLAND: Adam Kwarasey; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana (Norberto Paparatto 67); Diego Valeri (Jack Jewsbury 84), Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe; Dairon Asprilla, Fanendo Adi, Rodney Wallace (Lucas Melano 80) [subs Not Used: Jake Gleeson, Will Johnson, Taylor Peay, Maximiliano Urruti] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON Thoughts on the match changing when Kekuta Manneh came off: “Well, first of all I want to congratulate Portland, a credit to them for winning the game today, winning the two leg series. So, congratulations to them. It changed, dramatically. I think the kid started like a house on fire and put us in the ascendency with playing front football, and hit the two and have one or two half chances, then it changes. But when it’s not your day, it’s not your day and today, it wasn’t our day. We didn’t score a goal over two legs. When you don’t score a goal over two legs, unless you’re lucky and go to penalties and win, you’re not going to win a game of football, and that’s what happened.” On what the team needs to get that early decisive goal in games: “That’s a million dollar question. I think the reason strikers are paid so much money in this game is because they are able to put the ball into the back of the net and we haven’t been able to do that. Not just tonight, but for a number of games this year. That’s something I’ll have to go back to the drawing board with my staff in the offseason, and try and bring some more goals, because it’s ultimately cost us a little bit, especially tonight, and that’s something you have to take on the chin.” On whether he thinks he waited too long to make an offensive substitution: “No, because I made it at 58 minutes or so. I wanted to get a reaction out of the boys. I think they played very well in the first half. The game’s fine lines. Adi scores a good goal, probably we’re not set up properly off a throw in and pull back, he scores. You know, we had a chance last Sunday with Rivero on his left foot, but we don’t hit the target, he scores. In hindsight, you can say that a minute after he scored, maybe I should have changed it. But no, we give it a little bit. We changed the formation twice to try and get back into it. I think we could have been there another 90 minutes and not scored, it’s one of them.” On if not getting the away goal in Portland was key to the match: “I’ll never know, I suppose. As I said, they are disappointed today, disappointed for the guys in there, but really proud of them. They should come away from this season, we’ve achieved a lot of things at this football club and they should be proud of themselves. Disappointed, yes, we’ve missed an opportunity, a missed opportunity for us this year. But, we’re a young group of players and we’ll learn from it. As I said to you when I first walked in here, credit to Portland. They’re a good team.” On what the positives were this season: “I’m proud of them because they’ve achieved a number of firsts this year. The game is about proving people wrong and I’ve said that to you all along. If you don’t score a goal, you’ve got to continue to work hard to create chances to score goals. If you concede three goals, you’ve got to get back to basic defending probably. There’s a lot of positives, as I’ve said, they’re disappointed today because the fans out there were fantastic. What an atmosphere. I’m disappointed we couldn’t win the game for them. But that gives us a little taste and a sample of what we can do if we continue to build and continue to get positive results, because they supported us right until the 95th minute, which was great and I thank them for that.” KENDALL WASTON On a tough way to end the season: “We were expecting here at home [to] win the game. We’re disappointed because we worked very hard during all the season to get to the final, looking to make a lot of history here at the club. But I’m very proud of my teammates because even when we were down we were trying to look how we could have scored, but it’s hard because Portland is a very good team and they deserved to win.” On starting with energy before Kekuta Manneh went out injured: “This is about scoring. We couldn’t score, Portland got their opportunity and everything shut off there. But it’s very hard not to talk because you feel a little disappointed and sad, so I’m sorry.” On not scoring a goal: “Very hard because we were looking corner kicks, free kicks, all over the place how to score and we didn’t get the opportunity clearly to score. But the other team played very good and they tried to defend very well.” On disappointment of team not playing their best match: “Yes, a lot. Everybody tried their 100 per cent. But now we just have to congratulate Portland for the win, and now we’re just looking forward for the next year trying to reach this place and trying to get to the finals.” DAVID OUSTED Thoughts on the match: “Right now I’m very disappointed. Over 180 minutes we weren’t good enough. I’m proud of where we are and where we came to with this group, the growth we’ve shown throughout the year, but it’s a step short of where I wanted to go.” On having an early chance to get the go-ahead goal: “Obviously, we hit the post and Adam got it outside with, I think it was his neck. And obviously if that goes in it’s a different game. But like I say, all-in-all we don’t want to stand here and make excuses. Over 180 minutes I think Portland were the better team.” On the atmosphere: “We’ve had fantastic fans the whole year, and this is what we want as an organization, we want 27,000 here every time. We want at one point being able to open up this whole stadium. This is a step in the right direction, but like I say it’s a step short of where we wanted to go.” MAURO ROSALES On the performance v Portland: "We didn't perform as good as we played the last couple of games. It was a crucial game for us. This kind of game you have to step up with a different mentality, with a different approach to the games. Do your 110 percent every time. We had a good run during the season. When we should perform at higher levels, we didn't. Disappointed but proud of the team for how hard they've worked during the year." On the Whitecaps season: "I'm proud of the team. A lot of positive things, a lot of positive players coming up, doing a very good job. High levels all season for many of our players. We just wait for next year now." PORTLAND TIMBERS CALEB PORTER Thoughts on the win: “I think we managed both legs really well. We didn’t give up the away goal which led into this game. We knew they would want to come out, and yet we wanted to be aggressive as well. We went for the first goal, and we got it. It was something we worked on, in terms of getting in that left channel. It was a great goal. Then that meant now that we could manage the game with the ball, which we did second half. You saw the possession that we had and we were able to keep them from attacking by doing that, and keep them from playing the transition they like to play by slowing the tempo down with the ball. We were very patient and organized and they had a hard time breaking us down and then we found the counterattack, which I knew would be on as they tried to push because they needed two goals after we found the first one. So I thought it was very well managed overall.” On Norberto Paparatto having to sub in for injured Jorge Villafana: “They needed two goals, so they started just throwing numbers forward and putting guys in up top so it made sense to put Paparatto in and push Liam over to left back, he can sit in and we can play almost with three central defenders. So it made sense at that stage in the game. And then when they made their last move putting Earnshaw in, then we went to two holding mids, just to kind of give us an extra number defensively. But listen, it’s the players, it’s nothing to do with my moves or things I do. It’s them playing inside the lines. This team, they play for each other, they’re very hungry, and the last six games we’re unbeaten. The last six games we’ve been in playoff mode, we’ve been in massive pressure. For this group to play the football they’re playing, under massive pressure, is a really good sign. Four teams left, and three games to go, and we have two teams in our way.” On two weeks before the next match: “We need to recharge and recover from this game, we have time to do that. And then we need to get back to training, and keep getting better. I think we’re still scratching the surface of the level this team can play at. Today we did some things we haven’t done all year. So that’s exciting, because I think we can still, in the next couple of weeks, go to another level. " On facing FC Dallas: “Very good team, but we’ve been playing good teams late in the year. Like I said, we’ve been in playoff mode. I think that’s helped us. I think our experience in the playoffs helped us in this series. We’ve already won a playoff series versus Seattle [in] 2013. I think this is now our fourth win in the playoffs. The maturity we showed today, the professionalism we showed in managing this leg, and both legs, I thought was visible. Obviously Dallas is a good team, but we’ve been beating good teams. I know these guys will be up for it.” FANENDO ADI On his match-winning goal: “That was just something we practice at training. When I saw Diego [Valeri] on the ball, I knew he was going to cut it back. We talked about getting [Kendall] Waston out of the box and he followed the ball. I knew he was going to cut it back and I just stayed in position. The ball came and I hit it well.” On the Timbers attack clicking tonight: “It’s massive. It’s just understanding. We’ve trained and played a lot with these guys. You understand their movement and your movement as well. It’s just an understanding and it worked very well for us today.” On Diego Chara’s late goal: “That was a massive goal. It’s almost the same goal he got against, I think, FC Dallas. He won the ball and I was in position so he gave it to me. I just let [Kendall] Waston get to my side again and give the ball back to him and he did a great job finishing well.” On playing against Kendall Waston: “It’s always a good battle going up against such a good player. He’s big and he challenges you to be very focused to challenge balls against him. It was a great battle. I’m glad we came out victorious.” DIEGO CHARA On tonight’s win: “Our mentality tonight was to win. We tried to keep the ball and manage the tempo. We were effective with our chances. These were the real key for us.” On his late goal: “My role is to defend but sometimes I find space to attack, and tonight I did.” On facing FC Dallas: “FC Dallas are a good team. They have good players. The first leg will be at home and we need to win that.” On Fanendo Adi’s goal: “We’re confident in him because he can score. It was a great moment for him.” LIAM RIDGEWELL On tonight’s win: “Last time we were here, it was disappointing. They scored in the very last minute. It was very satisfying tonight. The boys played fantastic. I thought we deserved to win. I’m looking forward to the next game.” On Robert Earnshaw’s performance: “He tried his luck. Rob has always done that back home and since coming over here. I think we did well tonight as a team defensively. They couldn’t break us down. As soon as we got the first goal, we knew they had to get two. [Diego] Chara put the icing on the cake. It was fantastic.” On the team’s celebration after Diego Chara’s goal: “It was fantastic. The goal at the end certainly put the nail in the coffin. Everyone celebrating together was fantastic. That’s what we’ve been about over the last two and half months. Riding the wave, everyone together. We’re looking to do that next game.”
  3. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  4. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  5. REPORT: Delicately poised. That's perhaps the best phrase to sum up the current standing of the all-Cascadian Western Conference semi-final between Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers. There were no goals at Providence Park on Sunday but both teams had their chances. The 'Caps could have been two up at half-time. The Timbers could have had it all square at 2-2 by full time. Those away goals would have set Vancouver up nicely. Instead it's goalless and all to play for next Sunday at BC Place. Carl Robinson went with an unchanged Vancouver line-up from the team that secured their first round bye in last week's 3-0 win over Houston. Portland served up a shock, with Thursday's shoot-out hero, goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey, missing out through a late injury. Diego Chara also sat out for Caleb Porter's side. It was a frenetic opening spell, with both teams piling forward in attacks. Portland had the best of the early chances when Tim Parker failed to deal with a low cross in from the left but Lucas Melano shot weakly at David Ousted in the 7th minute, when he should have done better. Vancouver's best chance came eight minutes before the half, when a quick break from Gershon Koffie ended with a Kekuta Manneh cross into the box but Octavio Rivero rushed at his shot, when he had time, and blasted wildly over. Inbetween those chances there hadn't really been any goalmouth action in what had been a fast paced half. The 'Caps had another excellent opportunity to open the scoring moments later but Koffie squandered the good build up play. It surprisingly took until the 44th minute for the first yellow card to come, but then with two in a minute, one for each side, the fear was that the floodgates were now open in that aspect. Whatever Caleb Porter said to Portland at the half, it worked and they came out all guns blazing and with their tails up to start the second half, launching wave after wave of attacks. The Whitecaps defence was certainly bending, but not breaking and Kendall Waston did well to scramble the ball away in the 54th minute, after Fanendo Adi had been played in but Ousted was out quick to knock the ball clear. Manneh forced an easy save at the near post in the 71st minute, after a build up that felt like it had 100 passes. Portland responded with Diego Valeri forcing a stunning one hand save from Ousted from a free kick, 25 yards out. With the Timbers continuing to push on a slick pitch, the 'Caps survived some scrambles in their box, as they struggled to get out from being penned in deep. The game became end to end and Ousted had to get down to a low Urruti shot late on, but it was a fairly easy save for the Dane. Urruti came within inches of grabbing a late winner for the Timbers in the last minute, when he was slipped in but could only look on in agony as he crashed his shot off the right hand post. A close call and a lucky escape for Vancouver. Referee Allen Chapman showed balls of steel to blow for full time after the Timbers had won a corner, but it kept the game all square. Probably a fair result and setting up what has the potential to be a truly epic battle in Vancouver next Sunday. FINAL SCORE: Portland Timbers 0 - 0 Vancouver Whitecaps ATT: 21,144 PORTLAND: Jake Gleeson; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana; Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe, Diego Valeri; Rodney Wallace, Lucas Melano (Dairon Asprilla 61), Fanendo Adi (Maxi Urruti 71) [subs Not Used: Andrew Weber, Taylor Peay, Norberto Paparatto, Will Johnson, George Fochive] VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Tim Parker, Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Russell Teibert, Cristian Techera, Gershon Koffie (Mauro Rosales 63), Kekuta Manneh (Pedro Morales 77); Octavio Rivero (Darren Mattocks 88) [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Smith, Christian Dean, Deybi Flores] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON On if he was nervous in the match and if he’s happy with the draw: “That’s not nervous compared to Thursday night where I sat in the stands watching Portland and [sporting] Kansas City. That was very calm. We came into the game with a game plan. We knew what we wanted to do. I think we executed it perfectly. In the first half I thought we were very, very good up until the final third. We missed our chances. I think we should have been ahead in the first half. In the second half, as expected, they’re going to change slightly. They came out and were probably the more aggressive team. Obviously we rode our luck in the last minute, but I think we deserve it.” On if he’s disappointed in not getting a goal on the road: “Of course. Everyone wants [a goal]. I’m sure they want a home goal as well. The mindset now changes to next week’s game at BC Place and they are important away goals, we know that, but we had two great chances in the first half and we didn’t take them. Nothing you can do. You have to get back to work.” On if either team has an advantage heading into the next game: “I just think it’s just one game of football. It’s come down to final ends again. We talked about final ends today in the game whether we went ahead in the first half then they [get] it at the end. It’s which players perform on the day. [These are] two good teams. I said in that in the build up to the game. I’ll rely on my players turning out and Caleb will rely on his players turning up. It should be an exciting game.” On if his game plan will be affected if Portland scores first at BC Place: “No. We just have to win the game. If we win the game of football at home in our backyard then we are through. If they get an away goal then they know they have the slight advantage there but we will rest up and be ready for next week as well.” On goalkeeper David Ousted’s performance: “He’s been brilliant. He’s been brilliant all season for me. Obviously, he’s taken over the captaincy since Pedro [Morales] has been out the team. I remember him making a great save from Diego Valeri. Super free kick and obviously he gets a bit of luck at the end. Sometimes you need luck in this game as we all know.” On if Pedro Morales can be expected to play next Sunday: “Certainly hope so. You see the quality he has when he comes on. Mauro Rosales as well. We’ve missed these players. You want your good players in your team. The guys who have been playing have done fantastically well for us. It’ll set up nicely, give them a week of full training and I’m sure he’ll be ready to go.” On if midfielder Kekuta Manneh could have done better today: “No. I think he worked his socks off for the team. With all attacking players I’m sure they’re always judged by the journalists by goals and assists but as a coach you see the outside work that they do. He put a great shift in. He had one or two chances to do better in the final third which I’m sure he’ll admit but if it doesn’t come off for you in the attacking third you have to put a shift in or you don’t play.” On defender Kendall Waston’s performance: “Again, I think the word is monster again. Him and Tim Parker had their hands full, we know that. [Timbers forward] Maxi [urruti] comes on with his little movements and things like that. The back six of the team were fantastic today. As I said, you get your reward in this game if you put the work in and we certainly put a lot of work in today. We got our award in the first leg but we’re at halftime. There’s a lot to play for and it should set up nicely for next week.” On if midfielder Gershon Koffie is a number 10 player: “No he’s not but you change formations as managers and you try and get other players on the field because you want your players to perform. He has done a great job for me today in that role. Is it his ideal role? No and he’ll be the first to admit that but it’s not about individuals, it’s about the team and getting a result like this today.” On his decision to put midfielder Pedro Morales in the game: “It’s important he gets some football and gets some minutes in a competitive match under his belt. We’re thinking about playing him next week and bringing him off the bench was an option for me. Had to do it because I think Portland had the upper hand at that time and the game was starting to open up a little bit and I thought maybe we could execute our final passes. He brought calmness to our play which he does because he’s a top player.” On Portland’s shot that hit the post: “Sometimes it’s out of your hands. You just hope it’s not down to a mistake or a bad decision or things like that. We’ll take the post.” KENDALL WASTON On the overall match: “It was a hard match because this is a final and nobody wants to give anything. First half I think that we had some opportunities that we could have scored but this is soccer, just like them in the second half they made some good stops. I think now everything leads us to the second match that I think it’s going to be harder.” On if he was relieved when the shot went off the post in the 89th minute: “For sure. Nobody wants to let their team score. All those things count and I think today we had a good performance. We want to do things correctly and Portland was at home with their crowd and I think they had a great game as well.” On goalkeeper David Ousted’s performance: “Awesome. I think he’s the best goalkeeper in MLS. Every game he stands there and tries to get a clean sheet and today he helped us a lot.” On if he’s disappointed with not scoring on the road: “Disappointing is when you play and you don’t try your best. I think today we tried our best. Octavio [Rivero] and our other forwards were trying to score. Nobody wanted to kick the ball outside. The main thing is that we have team spirit, we have faith that the team is going to compete and hopefully next game we can win at home.” On having midfielder Pedro Morales return tonight: “[it was] great because we know that Pedro helps us a lot. He was working hard in his recovery and now everyone I think is available. It’s going to be a great battle during the week to see who is going to be the 11 starters.” PEDRO MORALES On making his return to the field: “I feel very happy. I have been waiting for this moment for maybe two months and not playing too much. Today I played 50 minutes and I feel OK. It’s a great result to come back home at BC Place. We have a big chance in the house now. [We] just [need to] keep the same work in the week and just prepare for the big game next week.” On if playing today sets him up to play at least a half next Sunday: “I don’t know. I’ll try yes. I need to train good this week and then it just depends on where you fit the team. I just need to work.” On if he felt any pain out there: “No. This is the reason I played. I don’t feel pain now. It’s the reason I’m very happy to come back and play. Now I’ve been working my way back for the team and just next week is a big game.” On the key to getting a goal next week: “Play hard. Take the ball. They have very good players and it’s a big, big game. [it] may be the last game for us or for Portland. You need to compete 100 percent. Now it’s a great opportunity to score and take a goal [at home]” On goalkeeper David Ousted’s performance: “[it was] very good. I think this year David’s had a good season for the team. For us, he’s a very good player. I think the best in the MLS. Just keep the same work now and wait for this game.” On if he thought his season was over after the last injury: “The last injury I thought maybe San Jose [would be] my last game this year but the team, the staff just gave me so much support. Now I feel OK, just keeping the same work every day and just wait for the last game now.” On who has the advantage going into the second game: “Maybe [us]. We need the support at BC Place. [There might be] maybe more than 25,000 people [at the stadium]. It’s very important for us. We’re very excited for this game and now we have a big chance for a win for the city, as a family for the club.” DAVID OUSTED On if one team has an advantage going into the next game: “Hopefully we have the advantage of being home at BC Place. Hopefully we go home now and make sure that we get that goal to lure them out a little bit.” On if there’s more pressure knowing they’ll need to score two goals if Portland gets one: “There’s pressure all the time. There’s pressure as well of keeping a clean sheet and keeping them off the scoreboard. I don’t think more than usual. We’ll assess that game and go in and try and win it.” On what he saw in Diego Valeri’s free kick: “I saw it pretty clear. I saw when it was going past the wall and I’ve seen him a few times. He likes that corner and is fantastic at putting it there so I needed a little bit extra to get there.” On how his team performed tonight: “I thought we did well. I thought it was a professional showing of what we needed to do, be defensively sound and make sure they didn’t get that goal so we needed to chase. I thought we did well. Obviously we would have loved to get that away goal but it wasn’t to be today. Now we go back to BC Place and try and win it.” On knowing that Portland wouldn’t show their exhaustion from a long match on Thursday: “We knew that coming in here was going to be tough. We knew that their crowd was going to give them that little bit of extra. [Did they have] tired legs? Yes, maybe a little bit but they were going on adrenaline and their crowd .We knew it was going to be tough and I’m delighted with the result we take away from here.” On defender Kendall Waston’s performance: “Kendall showed what he has been showing all year, that he’s so strong in the air. He does very well defensively. With the other three guys in the back four there, they’re very solid. Kendall has been showing it all year and we need him to keep showing it in this playoff run here.” PORTLAND TIMBERS CALEB PORTER On his team’s performance today: “I thought their effort was outstanding. We played a game on Thursday, 120 minutes, to go through what we went through physically and emotionally and to turn around and play like we played today, put ourselves in a position to win the game. We got a couple chances, those didn’t fall, but we were outstanding defensively. Obviously we were the team that was on the ball more. I'm real proud of the guys for that. In saying that, Vancouver they showed tonight why they were the best defensive team in the league. Their goalkeeper Ousted was outstanding, [Kendall] Waston’s a beast and they are a good team. So I thought even though there wasn’t a goal, if you know the game, it was a really good game to watch. It puts us in a good spot. Obviously not as good as if we would have won 1-0, but they didn’t get the away goal. So if we score one goal, they have to score two. If we score two goals, they have to score three. It will make for a very interesting second leg. We’ve won seven games on the road and we’ve been very hot on the road recently and we’ve scored goals on the road. It puts us in a good position to go and play for the win.” On Jake Gleeson’s performance: “I thought he was great today. We want that out of our young players when they get the opportunity to be able to step in. We’ve had several in that position this year and they’ve all done a really good job. He didn’t have a ton to do, but what he did have to manage I think he looked very comfy.” On if the pressure is back on Vancouver: “It was a defensive battle. We knew it would be. Usually the first legs are tight because they always set up the next game, but you saw they went for attacking subs at the end. I think the reason is they wanted that away goal. They didn’t get it. Unfortunately we didn’t find the goal either, but now that we go on the road knowing that we are a good road team and knowing we just have to win the game. We can even draw as long as we score a goal.” On moving Darlington Nagbe deeper in the second half: “Second half we wanted to get more possession and I think we did that. I think it helped us control the game better. The reason was getting him on the ball, bringing him deep to help build attacks. I haven’t seen his numbers today but I bet they are pretty high in terms of his pass completions. Overall we didn’t find the goal but we certainly were the team that controlled the majority of the play. They were dangerous on the counter a couple of times, but other than set pieces and counters they didn’t have much. I thought again it was two very good defensive teams and that showed today. So I’m not surprised that I was 0-0. I actually thought it would be 1-0, either way. I thought there was a goal in there and I thought it was going to be us. You saw at the end of the game we were pushing. I looked like we would find it Maxi had the chance. A bit unfortunate, but maybe it evened things out from Thursday with the post hurting us instead of helping us this game.” On the importance of depth and performance from players off the bench: “Really important. Hopefully we are in the playoffs all the way to the end because we had to play the extra game yellow card suspensions could play in. So we need those guys. Rodney’s [Wallace] on one, [Diego] Valeri’s on one, Ridgy’s [Liam Ridgewell] is on one and [George] Fochive, if you get one more than you’ll miss a game. So because of that, obviously, we need guys to be ready, but also you never know with injuries. As you go on in the playoffs you need to go to your bench at times. It’s big that we can put those guys in and they perform. They’ve performed really well now two straight games. We had planned to put those guys in in the second half. I thought they did give us a spark.” On keeping the team in a rhythm even though Chara remains out: “With Jack [Jewsbury] staying in and being in a rhythm I really liked the fact even though the fatigue factor was played up. I liked the fact that we were in a rhythm of playing. In the playoffs, sometimes even though you don’t have a ton of rest it’s better psychologically just to keep playing. I thought our guys looked comfortable. This is our second year in the playoffs and we’ve got three wins and this is Vancouver’s third year and they are still looking for that first win in the playoffs. So I think that experience will hopefully help us.” On how to keep the momentum and mindset going with a bit longer break between games: “I think we need to recharge. It couldn’t come at a better time. We knew obviously that it’s a two-leg series and we need to put ourselves in a position where we can have a week off – a week to prep, a week to recharge and go into the game fresh. I was surprised how fresh we looked, to be honest with you. I didn’t think it would be a big factor but it really didn’t look like it was a factor at all in the game. I was really pleased, I can’t ask for anything more out of the guys. Like I said, we put ourselves in position now where we have a week to really look at Vancouver, look at this game, prepare and come out flying. We are going to try to score goals. We are not going to sit back. Obviously we will be smart like we were today. But we play to win and we play to score goals. We are capable of scoring goals and if we score goals, now they have to get one more than us.” On decision to have Alvas Powell play a little bit more reined in: “There were little things that we felt playing 120 minutes Thursday there were some things that we needed to do to kind of manage the game. One of those things was to play a little bit more conservatively with our outside backs. Part of that is Vancouver as well with [Cristian] Techera and [Kekuta] Manneh, we knew they would look to hit us on counters and we didn’t want to get into a track meet in the game. This is one of the few times where that wouldn’t benefit us because obviously we had a lot of miles on the legs. So we played with Alvas [Powell] and Jorge [Villafaña] a little bit more conservatively to help manage the counter attack with their two wingers, but also to manage their legs. The other thing we did is stayed a little bit more compact, didn’t press as much. We wanted to keep our shape and we also talked about having possession just to control the tempo and in some ways, slow the game down a little bit." JAKE GLEESEON On when he knew he was going to start: “I got a text this morning from Adin [brown} just saying Adam [Kwarasey] isn’t feeling the best, so just be ready. As a backup, you always have to be ready, you don’t know when you’re going to go in. Just look at [Jon] Kempin the other night. So when I was walking in, Adam gave me a call and said ‘I’m heading home. I’m not feeling well.’ He was really sick. That’s when I really, officially found out I was playing, so it was a pretty exciting morning.” On comparing playing in the postseason with his start in Portland’s first MLS home game in 2011: “Obviously the first home game was a few years ago now, so it’s been a few years since I’ve been back out there. Once you’ve played at that level and go back, it’s like picking up where you left off. The chanting, the sounds, the stadium and all, are very familiar to me. I’ve been here so long. So it’s just like in any other game. You just go out there, keep your head down, but obviously a great experience to be back out there.” On hearing the reaction of the Timbers Army when he came out to warm up: “They give you a boost for sure. It’s like playing with an extra man or 21,000 extra men. They definitely give you that extra boost you need to get out there and do what you need to do. I’m a very calm person out there, so I don’t let it get to me too much. I like to stay focused, but it’s good. I like playing in front of them.” JACK JEWSBURY General thoughts on the match: “Kind of like we thought it would be, to be honest. We knew it was going to be tight. We knew they’re a great defensive team. We knew we weren’t going to get a ton of looks, but we got enough to get a goal. I thought the one of Maxi’s was in and I already started running down the left side to celebrate with him. So unfortunate that that one didn’t go in. We set ourselves up with a good opportunity now to move on. We’ve been a team that, on the road, has been very good. So we’re confident about next weekend.” On Jake Gleeson’s performance: “Jake’s a guy that got a ton of games with T2 and that’s what that’s all about. Getting reps for goalkeepers and backups that keeps them fresh. We’ve seen in training the last couple months that he’s been with us that he’s an exceptional young goalkeeper. We weren’t nervous at all about him stepping in. He did a great job tonight.” On if he was tired following the extra time and penalties against Sporting Kansas City: “For me to say not at all would probably be a lie. There were definitely moments where you have to catch that second wind, but the reality is at this time of year, it’s the playoffs. So everything gets thrown out the window in terms of being tired. We had two days off almost where we could regroup and get our bodies back to normal. It wasn’t that much different from a midweek hard training that we’d have on Wednesday. Obviously not 120 minutes long and the emotions that were in the Kansas City game, but overall I thought we looked very fresh. Sometimes that can be at your benefit when you’re on a good run like we are with four wins. We’re just looking forward to a few days off here. Relax a little bit and then get back to work for next Sunday.” On the importance of keeping a clean sheet with the away goals rule in play: “Obviously it’s important when road goals come into play. We thought late in the game that we could continue to push. They were going to be OK with a tie, but I think, even with some of their substitutions, you could tell that they were still trying to push for that road goal.” DIEGO VALERI General thoughts on the match: “We are happy with the performance but obviously not happy with the result. We deserved more, but it is what it is. We had some chances in the second half to score and we didn’t. But we’re in a good position. I think we were the better team on the field today, even if we played 120 minutes on Thursday. I’m happy with the performance. I think the team played really well.” On keeping a clean sheet and the away goal advantage heading to Vancouver: “It’s always very important because in this style of tournament, the clean sheet is very important. It’s good. Now we’re in a good position to score a goal there and force them to score two goals.” On the benefit of a full week of rest ahead of the second leg: “It’s good. It’s good because we have couple guys with some knocks, some problems. We need to rest. Tomorrow is a day off, so we will rest. It’s good. We have to watch the game to see what we need to fix and keep working.” On Jake Gleeson’s performance: “Amazing. I think he looked very mature. He’s a great ‘keeper and I’m very happy for him.” On the difficulty breaking down Vancouver: “I think because they defend with a lot of people, they put a lot of numbers behind the ball. I think we controlled the game. It was good because we were patient and we found some chances, very clear chances to score. We were a little bit unlucky. I had the free kick, Maxi’s chance and a couple more. I liked the way we played.”
  6. The 'Caps looked a little out of sorts in the first half and T2 headed into the break with a one goal lead thanks to a long range effort from Fatawu Safiu, and although Ben McKendry nearly equalised immediately, Vancouver weren't at the races. Head coach Alan Koch gave the 'Caps the kick up the ass they needed during his half time team talk and WFC2 and they were back on level terms two minutes after the restart and captain Tyler Rosenlund grabbed his first goal of the season when he put away an Andre Lewis cross. It was a much different 'Caps side now and they deservedly went ahead in the 63rd minute when Victor Blasco and Billy Schuler combined for the third time in two games and the Spaniard curled a nice finish into the net to put WFC2 into a 2-1 lead they didn't give up. In fact, they could have added to it and McKendry could only look on as his low effort crashed off the left post and then centre back Craig Nitti tried to lob T2 keeper Justin Luthy from his own half but saw his fantastic effort crash off the crossbar. Another three points and although Koch was left happy with that, he wasn't pleased by the Jekyll and Hyde performance from his team. "Pleased with the second half, not pleased with the first half," Koch told us after the match. "I thought we were very lacklustre in the first half. I think they clearly wanted it more than we did. We were a little bit naive how we approached the first 45 minutes. Addressed a couple of things and full credit to the guys, a much, much better performance in the second half." Also pleasing was Victor Blasco's third goal in two games. We wondered if last week's strikes would now spur him on and open the gates for more and it's looking like it has, although Koch also felt the Spaniard's performance matched that of the whole team over the 90 minutes. "In the second half, yes he did [look good]," Koch told us. "I had a chat with him at half time and said the first half wasn't good enough to be honest if he wanted to build on last week. You expect him to come out firing. He didn't do it in the first 45 minutes but full credit to him, he did it in the second half. "He took another step forward in the right direction and hopefully he can keep doing the same thing." The game did have some other disappointment for Vancouver, with Brett Levis being stretchered off late on after coming off worse for wear in a 50-50 challenge. The midfielder has been having a good season for the 'Caps but left the stadium on a cart with his foot and ankle heavily bandaged up and he was unable to put any pressure on it. A big loss for the team and with Caleb Clarke and Jackson Farmer away with Canada on international duty at the Pan Am Games, the WFC2 squad is getting down to the bare bones. With a busy month coming up, how will they cope? "The same way we've dealt with it all season long," Koch added. "Obviously when we're healthy, it's great and it's nice and easy. But when you're players short it gives other guys an opportunity to step in. Caleb was gone today and Billy Schuler stepped in and put in a great 90 minutes work. "If Brett's gone for a little while it'll give somebody an opportunity and they'll come in and do the exact same thing." WFC2 are in action again this coming Wednesday when the previously Western Conference leading Colorado Springs Switchbacks come to UBC. It'll be a tough game, but this month gives the 'Caps the chance to make a real push for a playoff spot. With a trip to Portland coming up next Sunday, and then a home and away set against Tulsa Roughnecks, points are up for grabs against two teams below them in the standings. Koch is hoping to use the recent results to now push on down the stretch but he's not looking too far beyond the next game right now. "We want to make the playoffs," Koch stated. "That's our goal. We'd like to push on and see how well we can do this last little bit of the season. We don't look too far ahead to be honest. We're going to focus on Wednesday. "We know next Sunday down at the Timbers will be a tough game, but we know we'll have a tough game on Wednesday first. So we'll go one game at a time. We're not looking too far ahead of that, particularly with the group that we have. We'll get ready not to take care of business on Wednesday." AFTN photographer Tom Ewasiuk was at WFC2's exciting win over Portland to capture all the action from before, during and after the game. Here's our "Story In Pictures", with a full Flickr slideshow at the end. [Also check out Tom's website www.residualimagephotography.com for more of his photos and work]. The WFC2 Starting XI Fatawu Safiu sparks the game into life in the 35th minute with a long range strike That beats Paolo Tornaghi and nestles nicely in the net Never nice to see happy Timbers Curva Collective in the house and in full voice for the canines in attendance After a half time kick up the ass, the 'Caps come out firing and Tyler Rosenlund grabs his first of the season in the 47th minute Then in the 63rd minute, the dynamic duo of Victor Blasco and Billy Schuler link up again And the Spaniard curls home from inside the box to make it 2-1 WFC2 Blasco is blazing a trail this month in USL Ben McKendry lets rip and nearly make it three for the 'Caps But can only look on as his effort crashes off the left post Not all good news for the 'Caps as Brett Levis comes off second best in a 50-50 challenge And is stretchered off in some pain Robbo congratulates Alan Koch on another win against a Cascadian rival. Next weekend they'll plot a double header down in Portland Pa Modou Kah has some advice and words of encouragement for the younger 'Caps One man and his dog - as if his looks didn't make Christian Dean a babe magnet already! You can see more photos from the match in the Flickr slideshow below:
  7. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  8. THE GOOD The Great Dane David Ousted A great showing by Ousted, he stepped up when his team needed him to get the three points from their Cascadian rivals. On the goal you could put a little bit of blame on him for his lack of rebound control, but there is no way that shot should have been given up by Steven Beitashour (Spoiler Alert - see "The Bad" below). He stood on his head a few times to keep the score tied 1-1 to give the team the chance they needed to win the game. There was an interesting exchange between him and Octavio Rivero on the Portland cross that just missed the far post. Instead of running out after the play and yelling at his defenders, as we have seen him do numerous times, he went up to Rivero and didn't start yelling but showed him what he did wrong and what he would like him to do next time. Then on the next corner, after he caught the cross that was whipped into the box, he gave Rivero a pat on the ass for standing his line and not letting Borchers run straight to the post. Ousted has been great this season (3W-0D-1L - 1.00GAA - 2CS). Really, out of the 4 goals he gave up you can only blame him in the first Altidore one from the first game versus TFC. Other than that it has been lack of defending in front of him and a penalty kick. THE AVERAGE Erik Hurtado's First Start Of The Season Carl Robinson gave him a shot with the suspension to Kekuta Manneh to show what he can contribute to the squad. Other than a few crosses into the box where there were no Whitecaps players around to convert it, you really didn't notice him that much on the pitch. Sure he had a few runs into the box that should have created scoring chances, but his passes were either picked off or too far behind the intended target striker. In my opinion he didn't do enough to continue being the starter over the young Manneh. He just didn't show he deserves the spot moving forward. THE BAD The Defence Of Steven Beitashour Another game, another time Beitashour gets beat down the wing and the Whitecaps get bested for another goal. On the Adi goal, not only did Beitashour pinch too far in the middle of the pitch but he then couldn't recover in time and got beat down the wing where Portland got the shot on net. Ousted couldn't control the rebound and Adi was able to beat the sprawling Ousted and tie the game up. This is an ongoing problem for the right-back. Time and time again he is too far in the middle of the pitch, not fast enough down the wing and doesn't stop enough crosses into the box. With Ethen Sampson being loaned to USL today, it means Beitashour has the job moving forward (which is of course as we'd all expect) but he will have to improve so the Whitecaps don't drop two points with a tie or lose all three on a sloppy goal.
  9. The Whitecaps starting eleven The 'Caps get fired up in their pre-match huddle Scarves up if you love the 'Caps David Ousted starts as he means to go on, getting down to thwart a low George Fochive shot Fochive is in the thick of the action again, bringing down Octavio Rivero for a 15th minute free kick Up steps Nicolas Mezquida Who curls it over the wall and into the bottom corner for the opening goal Nico and Pedro celebrate the 'Caps going 1-0 up Dirty, dirty Ridgewell Portland dominate an uninspiring second half until Fanendo Adi pokes home an 82nd minute equaliser Boooooooooooo But there's still time for Robert Earnshaw to pop up with a dramatic 90th minute winner for Vancouver Another debut goal, but Earnshaw enjoys them all like it was his first And there's the famous flip! And the crowd go wild! David Ousted lets out a roar at the final whistle Earnie's feet won't touch the ground tonight Carl Robinson does the Humba with Curva Collective A happy footballing day all round for Welshmen You can see all of Tom's photos from the game as a video slideshow (with added crowd noise) below:
  10. Have a listen! You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  11. REPORT (by Steve Pandher): Vancouver Whitecaps left it to the last moments but for the third straight week they scored a late winner to defeat Cascadian rivals Portland Timbers 2-1. The victory clinching goal came from new signing Robert Earnshaw, with Nicolas Mezquida scoring his first of the season in the first half before Portland countered late on with a goal from Fanendo Adi. It was the Timbers who looked to open the scoring in the 4th minute when George Forchive had a strike from outside the box that forced Ousted into making a diving stop to turn the ball around the post for a corner. They had another chance a few minutes later from inside the box, but Kendall Waston and Pa-Modou Kah combined to make a block. But just before the quarter hour mark the Caps capitalised on a free kick, as Mezquida scored his first of the season with a 20 yard curler over the wall, that dipped quickly inside the near post past a diving Adam Kwarasey, before nestling in the bottom left corner of the net. The remainder of the first half saw the home side concede the majority of possession to the Timbers but Portland were unable to capitalise, going into the break down a goal. The second half started similar to how the first ended, as the Timbers controlled the majority of the match, but there was no clear cut opportunity until the 70th minute when Ousted came up with another fine diving stop off a rocket from Darlington Nagbe. With less than ten minutes to go it looked as though the Caps would get their insurance goal as Octavio Rivero found the ball at his feet just outside the six yard area. Unfortunately he couldn’t wriggle the ball free and strike it into goal. It looked like it was going to prove to be a costly miss, as just a minute after, the Caps would give up an equaliser and Portland were finally able to convert on their chances and domination of possession. Rodney Wallace sent a low cross in from the left side of the box which Ousted got a hand to but it was directed to the feet of Adi who made no mistake in depositing the ball into the open net from close range to tie things up. The visitors had two chances to complete the comeback in the 89th minute when first Dairon Asprilla’s header bounced off the turf and just missed the top of the net, then moments later Adi was one on one with Ousted but the keeper came up big from point blank range to keep the score level. But just when it looked like Vancouver would be satisfied with a draw, new signing Robert Earnshaw opened up his account with Caps. After working the ball around, Pedro Morales slipped the ball in between Nat Borchers and Liam Ridgewell to Earnshaw who took a touch and chipped the ball over the keeper to give his new club the three points and the Welshman another debut goal, something he's made a habit of over the years. It was agreed by most after the match that the Whitecaps didn’t deserve the win. They were thoroughly outplayed for the majority of the 90 minutes and ended up with only 34% possession, which is staggering for a home game. However, they did come up with the result and now ride a three game winning streak after their opening day loss. They will now go for four straight at B.C. Place next Saturday, when they host the defending MLS Cup champs L.A. Galaxy. FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 - 1 Portland Timbers ATT: 22,500 (sell out) VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa-Modou Kah, Sam Adekugbe; Gershon Koffie (Deybi Flores 78), Matías Laba, Erik Hurtado (Robert Earnshaw 87), Pedro Morales, Nicolas Mezquida (Kianz Froese 52); Octavio Rivero [subs not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey, Ethen Sampson] PORTLAND: Adam Kwarasey; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana; Darlington Nagbe, Diego Chara, George Fochive (Gaston Fernandez 75), Rodney Wallace; Fanendo Adi, Maximiliano Urruti (Dairon Asprilla 65) [subs not used: Andrew Weber, Jeanderson, Taylor Peay, Norberto Paparatto, Nick Besler] REACTION: VANCOUVER WHITECAPS CARL ROBINSON Thoughts on the match: "Today I thought we were ordinary at best but we stole a victory in the end so I’m very happy." On David Ousted’s performance: "He was excellent. He won us the game today. Obviously the substitutes coming on made a big difference as well for us but without David we would have lost the game. Maybe we deserved to lose the game but when you have a top goal keeper it’s important he keeps you in games like he did today. They were the better team. They were the better team for long stretches. We couldn’t get to grips with them. When it went to 1-1 we would have taken a draw at that point but we put Earnie (Earnshaw) to try and nick us a goal. That’s why we signed him." On being dominated in midfield: “I don’t know. That’s something we need to look at because they are a good team with good players. We can say that we had a couple players missing but it’s irrelevant. We shouldn’t be dominated like that in the midfield area. We are very strong in midfield. The game is won and lost in midfield. Every game of football is. Today we came out on top with a moment of magic. A sliding pass from Pedro and Earnie chips over the goalkeeper. I will take the points.” What was said to Earnshaw before he went on? “I said he will get one chance. I’ve known Earnie for a number of years and I’ve brought him here because he can score goals. He got 266 or 267 goals in his career and when he gets a chance and when he is in the right position he usually takes it. Obviously the pass was excellent. The slide-rule pass and obviously the calmness and coolness of the finish and the calmness in his head was outstanding. We’ll take it.” Thoughts on Morales’ game: “He has put an excellent pass through for the winning goal. I think all my players weren’t up to scratch. I think we all were probably fives and sixes out of 10 if you mark players. I think Portland players were sevens and eights. The two wide players for me were excellent today.” On his history with Earnshaw: “I’ve played obviously in Wales a number of times with him. We’ve been in the squad for eight or ten years together. Played together at Norwich for 18 months so I know what he is good at and I know what he needs a kick in the backside with sometimes but he is a great professional. He gets the job done and today he got the job done.” On Nico taking the free kick: “They both got good quality. Pedro bangs them in for fun in training and so does Nico. I think Nico was feeling confident, he had a good rhythm early in the game, and he popped that in with great technique.” On what was said to his players post-match: “We need to be better next week. We’re playing the best team in MLS next week and the best coach. We’re gonna have to be a lot better than we were today. As I said sometimes you can’t play pretty football and be brilliant and win every game of football. Today we weren’t good. We were okay at best but we won. We will take it and we’ve got a lot to learn. We’ve got to work hard next week. We need to perform better than that.” On Sam Adekugbe: “We’re lucky we’ve got one of the best medical teams in the league. It was touch and go for Sam today. He trained yesterday a little bit and managed to declare himself fit. I thought he did okay today. Like all the players he did okay. I’ve got no worries because I’ve got two fantastic left backs.” On Flores’ debut: “He showed a drive from midfield which I think some players lacked at certain times. It was a very positive 20 plus minutes for him. I think he was eager to get a goal. He was obviously delighted playing in front of the 22,000 screaming fans here. The noise was nice when the winning goal (by Earnshaw) was put in.” Did this game live up to the rivalry? “It’s a great rivalry. Portland came in and played well. It does live up. We’ll take the result and performance, but will go back to work next week. We need to improve a lot but the fans have gone home happy today.” ROBERT EARNSHAW Thoughts on his game-winning goal: “It was amazing. Even with the length of time I’ve been playing football, that feeling when the ball hits the net, oh my god, it’s the best. It’s the best. Within those two and a half seconds, in my mind it was like three minutes because I have to know what to do, when to do it and react to what he was doing. I had a few options. I had time. The best option was what happened." On his post match John Cena celebration: "I didn’t know what to do. I was so emotional. I was so happy, I kind of lost myself a little bit. That’s a credit to everybody here." On the team’s overall play: “I have to point out that, yes, I scored the winner but it’s not possible if Pedro Morales doesn’t see me, or David Ousted doesn’t make a save maybe a minute earlier, the defending, and the amount of work we put in. All of these things – that’s the game that I see out there, so credit to the whole team. It wasn’t a good performance because we can do better. We can keep the ball better, we can dictate more, there’s a lot more to come from this team. When we can do this and win in that way when we feel like there’s a lot more to come from the tank, that’s a good foundation to have.” On his conversation with Robinson before going on: “Carl was just telling me that as soon as I came on, he just felt like I was going to score. It’s a debut and I was going to score. I was thinking I just needed one chance. It’s amazing because the amount of times you see debuts happen to go your way in games especially when it’s focused on one player, what an amazing feeling. I was just hoping to get on the pitch.” On playing in front of Whitecaps fans: “That was an amazing atmosphere to play in. I’ve played in a lot of different countries, with the national team and in the Premier League, what a great atmosphere. Credit to the fans. Thank you because I was looking around and they’re singing, I thought this was really, really nice. What a great atmosphere to play in as a player to see that and to feel that energy from the fans. It goes a long way. Players appreciate it because when I got on, I got excited because of the atmosphere. When the fans are behind us, it really plays a part. Sometimes it gets underestimated that the fans play a role on how the players play. Credit to the fans today, they were brilliant, awesome, and really helped the team.” DAVID OUSTED On the overall game: "Pleased with the three points, not pleased with how we got them. There's a lot of work to be done and we're going in to a week now where we got to look at some stuff to be better." On his important saves: “I’m happy with my performance today. I gave us a chance to win it and that’s why I’m in there. I’m delighted to see Earnie [Earnshaw] get that goal. It shows what a composed player he is and he’s a great addition to our team.” On Robert Earnshaw’s game-winning goal: “Fantastic. I was thinking another week, another steal in the 90th minute. It won’t always be pretty but if we can get away with three points in these games, it’s looking good.” On young teammates [Deybi and Kianz]: “Fantastic. I think Kianz has come in a couple of times and shown how good a player he is. Comes in and takes responsibility and works a lot. Deybi I was impressed with, young guy, making runs from midfield. I thought he did really well.” On Portland’s control in the second half: “I think we lacked both composure on the ball and pressure on the ball. They did really well keeping it and playing around us but we’re a better team than what we showed today, both in the pressing and with the ball and that’s some of the things that we need to work on.” NICOLAS MEZQUIDA Thoughts on the game: “Happy. Happy for the first goal of the season. I’m happy for the three points.” On the free kick given, which led to his goal: “I’ve been training a lot. I’ve been training a lot on free kicks. The first free kick was for Pedro, and I said “Okay, the second is mine.” I’m happy for the chance for a free kick in the game and I scored as well so I’m very happy for that.” On Earnshaw’s debut goal: “When playing bad, this team is important because we have big players forward so in any moment we can score, because we have Octavio. He’s shown the last two games he can score in the last minute. The forwards are important players so we can score in any moment.” On Portland’s defence: “They are strong. They are experienced players. They have a big team and are very good players.” PORTLAND TIMBERS CALEB PORTER How did you see that last Vancouver goal develop?: “It was a counter, we dominated the game and were far and away the better team. I thought it was tough to give up the first goal that was against the run. I think they had three shots in the first half and two of them were dead balls. We played outstanding but we gave up the goal and that happens; our response was good. We pushed in the second half; I thought we dominated the ball and deserved a level goal and should’ve scored a winning goal. We had a couple of chances like the one their goalkeeper saved on Adi. If we score that we probably come away with the three points. As it turns out they come down the other end, and Earnshaw makes a good run and a good finish. "You have credit them, certainly today, for getting the three points. They defended well but I thought our guys dominated the game and played well. I don’t know how we didn’t win; I really don’t. This is the sport, and sometimes it’s cruel. I haven’t seen us dominate a game on the road like this since I’ve been here. It was probably the best game I’ve seen our team play in terms of flow and control and final third entries. We should have scored a few more goals with as much possession as we had. It is what it is. I think it’s a bit unfair for our guys; they deserved better but you’ve got to move on. We’ll get ready for next week against Dallas at home. We’ve got two games at home and have to have a short memory on this one.” Is this one of the most frustrating games you’ve been a part of?: “Yeah probably because of the way we played. I didn’t think it was fair based on how well we played, but again you have to credit Vancouver. They’ve been getting results and finding a way to win games like this by defending and countering. We knew what type of game we were going to be in and you have credit them for finding a way to get three points.” On what’s next: “Move on to the next game. Keep playing that way – it’s simple. Obviously we need to get a bit better quality in the final third because as much as we dominated we should’ve scored two, three, four goals – no doubt about it – and the few chances they had we have to do better on. First goal I thought was a soft goal.” FANENDO ADI On Urruti up top: “It’s a combination we haven’t had so much time to work on, but today we were not able to create a lot in the first half. But we were able to play and this is a step forward. I think it’s just a combination we need to work on, playing more together.” On the key to scoring goals: “It’s football. Today we can say the better team lost the game. Of course it’s all about winning. If we are not able to win we are not the better team, so that’s all we can say: they are the better team and that’s why they won.” On going up against Kah and Waston: “I’ve played a couple of times with them. I think it’s pretty much physical. I think they are the most physical to play against in the whole league. I can turn around them. So it’s just something we’ve got to look into, if he doesn’t call my fouls and he calls the same fouls against their striker, it’s just something I can’t control. What I can control is how I play my game. They played well and defended well and cut our crosses. They are good defenders.” On taking the positives: “We take a lot of positives out of it. We know Vancouver is a tough team to play against, and it’s always a fight to come in here to play them out rightly. We possessed the game, we created more chances, we did everything more than they had but unfortunately they scored two goals and we just scored one goal. We take a lot of positives things out of this game; we just need to forget about it as soon we can and focus on the next game.” NAT BORCHERS On being concerned about playing well and not getting the result: “No, I’m not. I think good teams like this are eventually going to find a way and we’re going catch our stride and we’re going to get that first win. It’s going to come soon and once we do I think it’s going to give us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the games.” On taking the positives: “This is a results business of course and we’re disappointed that we lost the game. But we do acknowledge that a lot of guys stepped up and played very well.”
  12. You can listen to this, and all previous, episodes of the podcast on iTunes HERE. Or download it for your later listening delight HERE. We also have an iPhone app, so you can now add our podcast to your phone as an app. Visit the podcast's mobile site HERE and then at the bottom of the screen just click the "Quick Launch" icon and the podcast will be added to your home screen and appear as an app. And if that's not enough, we're on Stitcher Radio Network. Download the app and listen to the AFTN podcast on your device, along with over 20,000 other shows HERE. Or after all that, you could just listen on the player below!
  13. THE GOOD Pedro's Passes We saw a clinic in the first half of the game. He was on point with all his passes up the middle, over the top and through to the wing passes for Kekuta Manneh, Octavio Rivero and Mauro Rosales. He was able to hit them in full sprint and if it wasn't for the Portland keeper being so active outside his defensive box the Whitecaps would of had two or three more great scoring chances. It looks like the three months off this offseason has Morales healthy, rested and refreshed. THE AVERAGE Octavio's Finish Rivero had some great runs this game, we saw the same thing down in Tucson. But he did lack calmness and finish in the 18 yard box. He was trying to make that one extra move that gave the Timber defenders a chance to knock the ball away from him. On the bright side he did play well with Morales and looks like once they are in sync they will be a power pair in MLS. THE BAD Centrebacks Seeing Yellow We all saw that coming. Kendall Waston and Pa Modou Kah both earned a yellow card in this game. This will be a big story this season. There will be suspensions, which means Diego Rodriguez, Tim Parker and Christian Dean will likely all be getting MLS minutes. Waston was lucky he didn't pick up a second yellow a few different times. He played at his physical level that you love to see from him. You have to take the missed games due to suspension if you want him to play at this level. He was just physical enough where Portland forwards where concerned to go up against him in the box. Kah has a history of yellow cards and it won't change now that he is in a Whitecaps kit. Both he and Waston have to be smart when they play with each other to make sure they don't hurt the team by both of them being reckless. He did show some great defensive ability in the box and stepped up big with the game winning goal.
  14. REPORT: Vancouver and Portland served up a fiery friendly on Sunday night in their first game of the 2015 version of the Timbers annual preseason tournament. Two sending offs, eight bookings and 43 fouls later, a first half Pa Modou Kah header was what separated the teams on the scoresheet, as the Whitecaps kicked off their defence of the tournament with a 1-0 win. The Whitecaps went for a strong starting line up, and one that wouldn't look too much out of place against Toronto for First Kick, and their performance did their cause a lot of favours. Portland certainly started the livelier and looked the more dangerous side, but Vancouver had a few forays forward of their own. The Timbers had a good chance in the 16th minute when the ball broke to Alvas Powell just inside the box but the Jamaican blasted wildly over. A minute later he had a similar opportunity but with the same end result. Vancouver were coming more into the game and looking dangerous up both wings. They were also looking physical with both Kendall Waston and Pa Modou Kah putting in some crunching tackles. Portland's midfield has already been hit hard with injuries to Diego Valeri and Will Johnson, and they suffered another blow in the 26th minute when Ben Zemanski was stretchered after going to ground away from the action. Kekuta Manneh was getting the better of Powell on the left side of the pitch and he got past his man once again before whipping in a dangerous ball to the back post but there were no takers. The Whitecaps got the breakthrough their play deserved in the 31st minute when Kah rose unchallenged against his former team and powered home a perfect Mauro Rosales cross Neither side were able to carve out any real chances for the remainder of the half and the 'Caps headed in happy with a one goal advantage. The second half continued in a high pace and with some feisty tackles flying in from both sides. Clear cut chances were at a premium however, with the best of them falling to Vancouver. Manneh continued his good work from the first half and drove over the bar six minutes in, then came close again as the hour mark approached when he got on an excellent ball from Pedro Morales. The game had shown signs of boiling over and so it came to pass in the 60th minute when Rodney Wallace picked up a second yellow for kicking out at Waston. With Portland reduced to ten men, Vancouver tried to turn the screw, with the best chance falling to substitute Erik Hurtado in the 70th minute. The Whitecaps were controlling the game fairly easily but David Ousted had to act quickly to parry a fierce Dairon Asprilla rocket in the 86th minute. As the minutes ticked down there was still time for some sparks to fly. Nicolas Mezquida went flying into a challenge on Diego Chara with two minutes left on the clock. The Colombian went as if he'd been shot and rolled around like he was trying to put out a fire. Mezquida picked up a yellow for the challenge and so did Portland's captain Liam Ridgewell for mouthing off at the ref. In the confusion, the fourth official pointed out to the referee that that was Ridgewell's second booking and Portland were down to nine men for the remaining few minutes. As Vancouver took the ball to the corner flag, Maxi Urruti chopped down Manneh at the corner flag. The young Gambian was incensed at the needless challenge way after the final whistle and had to be calmed down by Kah. So a great win, in what was a fantastic game of football. May not have been pretty at times, but it's games like this, with the fight, passion and intensity, that will help grow the game in North America. Just wait till the real action starts. FINAL SCORE: Portland Timbers 0 Vancouver Whitecaps 1 PORTLAND: Adam Kwarasey; Alvas Powell, Nat Borchers, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana; Darlington Nagbe, Diego Chara, Ben Zemanski (Jack Jewsbury 25), Rodney Wallace; Gaston Fernandez (Dairon Asprilla 64), Fanendo Adi (Maximiliano Urruti 72) [subs Not Used: Andrew Weber, Norberto Paparatto, Jeanderson, Danny O'Rourke, Nick Besler, George Fochive, Michael Nanchoff, Schillo Tshuma] VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Pa Modou Kah (Diego Rodriguez 66), Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba (Gershon Koffie 76), Russell Teibert, Mauro Rosales (Erik Hurtado 58), Pedro Morales (Nicolas Mezquida 76), Kekuta Manneh; Octavio Rivero (Darren Mattocks 76) [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Christian Dean, Ethen Sampson, Robert Earnshaw, Marco Bustos] REACTION: CARL ROBINSON On the game and what this means for the actual league meetings between the teams: "It's hard to tell, but a good game of football today, I have to say, by two good teams. These games are never going to be easy. These games are never going to be friendlies and it showed today. Obviously there were one or two sending offs in the game but then from our perspective we scored and obviously won the game, but more importantly we played pretty well when we had the ball." On being in control of the game in the second half: "The only disappointing thing I have is that we didn't manage to get the second goal because I think we deserved it and warranted it with our play. Unfortunately it didn't come and that's stuff we've got to work on." Play of Kekuta Manneh and how different he looks from last season: "He's been excellent. A very mature performance from the young boy today especially. He's come back in preseason in the right frame of mind. He's come back with the bit between his teeth. He's fit, and you see today, when he's fit, he's happy, and he performs like that. My job is to try and keep him like that for 34 games this season." On what Manneh needs to do to play well but also hit the back of the net: "There will be performances this year where he doesn't play as well as he did tonight and he'll score two goals and I'm sure everyone will say that he's this and he's that. But when he plays like that, that's all I want him to do. Because when he plays like that he'll score goals and there's no reason why he can't get a number of goals this year. Confidencewise, he's playing with confidence. And he's fit and he's happy. If you've got your players happy, then they'll perform to the levels that they should do. My job is to do that." Was that the Kah hat-trick - card, goal, calming Kekuta?! "That's perfect. We'll have some fun this year, won't we?! We'll certainly have some fun." On the card danger of Kah and Waston playing together: "It will. I thought there were areas for improvement, as there were with all units of the team. They're strong. A very strong pair. And Diego coming on as well. That was a decision because I didn't want to lose Kah because I thought the referee was a little card-happy maybe, sending people off. I didn't want him evening things up, so it was a decision I made. But they will get booked this year. There's no doubt about it, because we've got good attacking players in this league and good attackers manage to deceive defenders sometimes. It's important I carry five [central] defenders and I've certainly got five good ones." What did he learn about his group from the game? "That we're tough. That physically we were able to deal with a tough match away from home. Every match is going to be like this away from home. We've got to be able to fight and dig and scrap and run, but play our football at the right times and I think we did that, especially going in at half time 1-0 up. It was a much of a muchness kind of game, there wasn't much in it. We managed to get a great goal from a super ball from Mauro and Pa's header. The second half, I thought we were excellent. I really did. The change in numbers changed the dynamic of the game slightly but the performance was thoroughly professional." On Nico standing up to bigger players: "Imagine if he was Kendall's size what he'd do! He's brilliant. He has a heart of gold. You want guys like that in your team and we've certainly got a good group in there." On Rivero and the other new Caps getting a taste of the Cascadia atmosphere: "It's important for all the new guys coming in to realise what it's like to play [in Portland]. It's a great place to play. It's passionate, it's exciting. You hear supporters giving you abuse and things like that. You've got to get used to that." On plans and hopes for the remaining two games in the tournament: "I thought [the first game between Chicago and Stabaek] was a decent game. It was two very different styles of play within the game. We'll prepare for Wednesday's game because it's going to be a tough game. I'll decide what I'll do with the personnel there, but the guys that didn't play today will probably get a run out on Wednesday. I think it's an important game for us, against a very good Stabaek team as well." PA MODOU KAH On the perfect return to Portland for him: "Soccer is a little bit bizarre sport because it's always something like when you go to your old club it always seems to be that you will score. I always watch the game on television and I tell my wife, how is it that when you always go back to your ex club, you score. It's just in the script I guess. On how he saw his goal: "That was a tremendous delivery from Mauro and when you have a guy like Mauro with his qualities and his crosses, it's a dream for any soccer player so he put it on the right spot and it was just for me to attack the ball and I put it in the net." On the intensity of a preseason game being like a league game: "The boys, we rolled up our sleeves and everybody fought. We fought as a team, which is very important. Everybody knows when you come down to Portland, they like to play, but for us, it's the preseason, but the season is a week away so we have to fight and work together as a team. Today we played well. Every game against your rival is competitive, so you have to be at your best and today we showed why we are Vancouver." On whether to celebrate against his old team: "If I score, I will celebrate, but since this is a preseason game, there's no need for celebration. If it was a regular season game, yes, I will celebrate because, with all due respect for Portland, I feel that when you play a game and you score a goal, you should celebrate." On Manneh and Hurtado not taking chances to add second: "For me, when you have those chances, you have to finish it because those chances are the decider of the game, whether you let them back in the game or not. So when you kill the game with 2-0, with ten men, then it's a lot more easier to play, so that's something we need to work on." How comfortable does he feel already playing with Waston? "The big man is a beast. When you have a guy along like that, it's good for the back line. Both of us are aggressive players but we know how to play football, so far it's just about keeping working, getting the chemistry, the chemistry's going good. Both of us are willing to and we listen to each other and we make each other better everyday, which is important. You also have Christian Dean and Diego Rodriguez in the background, so no place is safe, so every day you got to show your best in training." KEKUTA MANNEH Did that feel like a preseason or a regular season game out there? "Obviously it's a preseason game but we don't take any game lightly for the preseason. The preparation starts from day one. It's just like any other big game for us. It's just like we're fighting for the playoffs, so it's important for us that we play the right way. We've been saying all year, do things right, make sure we perform. It doesn't matter what game it is. There's no friendly game for us. It just felt like we're in the season." On his own strong performance: "Unfortunately I wasn't able to manage to score a goal. It's just one of those things. I just need to keep my composure, try to finish it next time and just go back to the drawing board and practice work on that. I thought the team played really well considering it's an away game and we're trying to get ready for the season and trying to fit in the new players that we have too. I thought they were fantastic. They fitted in really well. Obviously we need to work on some stuff for everyone but I thought it looked great tonight." On Kah's headed goal: "We've been working on it and I feel that we're going to score a lot of goals from set pieces because we've got those big guys on the team now. So goals are going to come from different places now." On the difference between him last preseason and this: "I feel great. Thanks to the medical staff and the staff here. I've been working with them in the offseason and you can definitely see it paid off. I feel really fit. I was never really tired for the whole game today. It was great."
  15. If the Timbers get chopped down at home to RSL, then a victory at Buck Shaw Stadium, where they haven’t won in four attempts, would see the Whitecaps in the playoffs with a game to spare. A game where they can either try and keep momentum going against a defensively woeful Colorado side, maybe even grabbing some confidence boosting goals in the process, or rest up some key or close to suspension players like Pedro Morales. A Portland point against Salt Lake, would see them jump ahead of Vancouver on the tiebreakers, but the ‘Caps would then just need at least one point of their own against the Earthquakes to claim it back a day later. A Portland win (we don’t really even want to consider that option), would mean Vancouver falling back out of the playoff places and sitting two points behind the Timbers. But fear not, because matching the Timbers’ result, no matter what, see them back above the red line. Not getting anything out of this scenario is simply unthinkable. For all that Vancouver want their focus to be solely about themselves, Portland have perhaps an equal part to play in the whole race to the playoffs. "I said we couldn't look at Portland too much, we're little bit forced to look at them now," goalkeeper David Ousted told us at training this week. "It's about us finishing the job. "Win, draw or lose for Portland, we still need to go and get hopefully two wins to push our way in there. If we get two wins, it doesn't matter what Portland does. If we can focus on that, it's going to be easier for us. If they lose points, then good for us and we don't have to maybe make a win too, but still, we need to push our way in there and not hope that Portland loses." Carl Robinson has preached for weeks that all that matters is taking care of their own business and it doesn't matter what anybody else does if the Caps can't do their own job. He has shifted from that stand with two games to go, but him and his squad will most certainly be watching Friday's Portland result with keen interest. "I think my players will generally watch [Portland's] results," Robinson told us. "I watched them on Wednesday night [against San Jose]. We beat Dallas 2-0 and suddenly we were in a decent position and then they followed up with a result and then they followed up again with another result and then apparently the pressure was on us. "I just said to the guys, 'listen, it doesn't matter what anybody else does, we've just got to concentrate on ourselves' and we did on Friday [against Seattle] and we won the game. It changes every week and every game that goes on, a different result changes the dynamic of the playoff race. "If we win two games we're in. I'm trying to make it as simple as possible for them [the players]. Obviously I'll look at their result Friday and watch their game, because I love watching games of football, and if they win, then it puts a little bit of pressure on us. If they don't win it puts pressure on us because we need to get our result."
  16. Just in case you've been living under a rock for the past year, here's a quick refresher. The CSA have deemed that the Voyageurs Cup will be competed for later in the season from next year, so whichever Canadian club finishes highest in the MLS standings this season will represent Canada in next year's Champions League. Which does feel like the only way the Whitecaps will claim that honour sometimes! Vancouver and Toronto are currently level on points in the standing, but not only do TFC have a game in hand, they also have the most wins tiebreaker right now. If both teams were to win out (I know, I amuse myself sometimes), then that would see Toronto claim the spot. So a TFC win tomorrow makes achieving that goal slightly more difficult with the games running out. Now if you were to ask me to pick between just one of the options, the Whitecaps in the playoffs or the Whitecaps in next year's Champions League, what would I pick? What would you pick? What would Carl Robinson pick? In reality it's likely that if they make the playoffs, the points they've massed will also mean they clinch the Champions League spot too. I think that's what it's going to take. But if I was only allowed one, well, when I first thought about writing this article I thought my answer would be the playoffs every day of the week. But then I got thinking. If the Whitecaps make the playoffs, they face an away game in Dallas or Real Salt Lake and realistically are going to go one and out. So you're qualifying for just one game and possibly a quick disappointment. Qualifying for the Champions League gets you six more games at least, a Cup competition to go for and some valuable experience and minutes for Vancouver's younger and fringe players. It's a tough one. Of course, you then also have to look at what the likelihood of both scenarios happening will be? Will the Whitecaps even make the playoffs this year, not even looking at any other factor? Right back Steven Beitashour is certainly full of confidence. "It's two points," Beitashour answered incredulously when he was asked at training on Thursday if the Whitecaps still had a chance at making the playoffs. It was a bizarre question. "Five games, 15 points out there," he continued. "Two points. There's no way they're going five for five, so there's going to be a lot of points out there to grab and it starts on Saturday." "What they do doesn't affect us if we don't just win. We just try and control our own thing. At the end of the day we have five games to go, we know that, but we can't look past Salt Lake." The Toronto-Portland game kicks off at 10am PT. An ungodly hour for football and likely right in the middle of the Ryder Cup winding up for the day. Typically selfish east coast bastards. On the plus side though, it does mean that the game will finish four hours before Vancouver kicks off their crucial game with Real Salt Lake. The Whitecaps will know what the Timbers will have done and whether they're looking at closing a five point gap or facing the chance to get above the red line again. Will they be watching? Russell Teibert won't be until later, but he knows which scenario he's rooting for in the game. "I'll watch the Portland-Toronto game after the fact," Teibert said. "I won't pay no mind to it before. We know we can only control what we can control and that's our game, our match, that's our individual performances, that's how we play as a team. We can't control what Portland does but I'll give my boys from Portland a little shout and hopefully they'll do us a favour. "We know that even if [Portland] lose, if we don't win it doesn't mean anything. We need to go out, we need to perform, we need to win the game." So the players at least know that watching and relying on other teams slipping up or other teams do us favours doesn't count for much if they don't get the job done themselves over the next five "cup finals" The Ontario lad is cheering on TFC to do the Caps a favour and coach Carl Robinson is also hoping for the same from his old team. "Maybe Defoe's back and he can bang in four more goals," Robinson joked yesterday before continuing the same message as his players. "Listen, we need to concentrate on our own business. We didn't take care of our own business last week because we weren't at our levels that we need to be barring the first 20 minutes, so we've got to get back to that." The Whitecaps are looking for a Toronto win. Me? Well I'm cheering for an asteroid strike, the stretcher-bearers and failing that either a draw with injuries to key personnel or an absolute thumping of the Timbers by TFC. Even after all this, it could still come down to goal difference, and as we all sadly know, goals are exactly Vancouver's strong suit right now.
  17. The Good: Caps still have a shot at the Cascadia Cup With the past two 3-0 losses to Portland, Vancouver haven't done themselves any favours in the race for five Cascadia Cups. That being said they still have a shot at retaining the Cup this season. The current standings have Seattle 8pts, Vancouver 7pts and Portland 7pts. The only game remaining is Friday October 10th - Whitecaps at Sounders. The Caps must win this to get the majestic cup in the supporters' hands once again. A loss or a tie means the cup will have a new home in the Emerald City next season. While the playoff door is not completely shut, it is closing fast. Losing out on the Cascadia Cup and not making the playoffs will make this season a complete disappointment. The Average: The play of David Ousted In the last two games, David Ousted's play has not been terrible but hasn't been good at all. Five goals against in two games will very rarely get you wins. He took the blame for the loss in FC Dallas, as he should have. In training last week he talked about it being time for the team to play with attitude, that didn't happen at all. With five games remaining Ousted has to play better. He needs to win games that the team shouldn't be winning with their lack of quality play. Time for him to steal victories and get this team in the playoffs. The Bad: Matias Laba Worst game in a Whitecaps jersey. Maybe right up there as the worst game in his career too?! After he picked up his 7th yellow of the season he became a ball watcher and looked like he was afraid to tackle in case he got a red. He doesn't have room in his game to play cautious, he has to play tough and challenge in that midfield to be effective.
  18. Carl Robinson brought Steven Beitashour and Andy O'Brien back into the starting line up after resting them against Dallas last weekend, with Erik Hurtado confining Darren Mattocks to the bench after his goal in Texas on Saturday. The game was to be lively and end to end from the off and it was the Whitecaps who got the first chance just 49 seconds in when Sebastian Fernandez ran in on goal and hit his shot a foot or so wide of the left post. Hurtado was getting a lot of room to play but he took too long to bring down an excellent long ball from Fernandez in the 9th minute and the opportunity went from a one on one with the goalkeeper to Portland getting six defenders back. The play was going from one end of the pitch to the other, but it was the Caps who were getting the goalscoring chances. Jordan Harvey sent a ball across the face of the goal but there was to be no takers and Portland breathed another sigh of relief. The Timbers responded with a quick break and David Ousted had to be out quick to snuff out the danger. Russell Teibert has been struggling offensively this season but he made room for himself after some nice link up work with Mauro Rosales in the 18th minute, only to see his fierce shot hit off a Timber for a corner. Vancouver's inability to take those chances was punished in the 28th minute when Portland took the lead, pretty much against the run of play. As has been the Whitecaps' downfall for much of this season, poor marking and poor tracking cost them dearly when Diego Valeri was allowed to run in unmarked and volley home a Jorge Villafana cross from 12 yards out for the opener. It was a stunning finish that gave Ousted no chance, and a tough time now lay ahead for the Caps. More sloppy Vancouver defending went unpunished in the 38th minute when Fanendo Adi powered through the backline and played the ball to a wide open Alvas Powell, but Ousted stood tall and blocked his near post shot. That was to be the last real action of the half and Portland headed in a goal up and back in the playoff places in the West. There were no changes for either side at the half and Vancouver came out again all guns blazing, but without managing to get off the shots needed. The Caps should have had a penalty in the 54th minute when Fernandez had his ankle taken out as he tried to skip through two Timbers defenders, but it may have been a case of his reputation preceding him referee Hilario Grajeda waved away the claims. Portland started to control the play and looked dangerous every time they broke forward. Darlington Nagbe had a shot from the edge of the box that whipped over and then followed that up in the 62nd minute with a shot which Ousted could only parry but the danger was cleared before Fanendo Adi could pounce. The Nigerian wasn't to be denied however and he got his goal four minutes later when Valeri dispossessed Matias Laba just inside the Portland half and he streaked clear with a two on two break before playing the ball inside for Adi to simply slot home and make it 2-0 Portland. Vancouver threw everything forward. Too much so and when O'Brien and Waston ended up in a heap on top of Pa Modou Kah in the 69th minute, Portland streaked forward and Adi easily stroked home his second, and the Timbers third, through Ousted's legs. And that was all she wrote. Both teams had a couple of half chances, but even with some substitutions, the Caps attack looked woefully impotent. There was an appeal for a Darren Mattocks penalty, but again the referee wasn't interested. Vancouver now have five games to save their season and go from being the chased to the chasers. Will that help them play more relaxed? Even if it doesn't, can anything help them finish their chances? Real Salt Lake come to town next Saturday. A team that just hit five goals and destroyed Colorado last night. It could be a long five weeks. FINAL SCORE: Portland Timbers 3 - 0 Vancouver Whitecaps ATT: 20,814 PORTLAND: Donovan Ricketts; Alvas Powell, Pa Modou Kah, Liam Ridgewell, Jorge Villafana; Diego Chara, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri; Rodney Wallace (Gaston Fernandez 87), Darlington Nagbe, Fanendo Adi (Maxi Urruti 72) [subs Not Used: Andrew Weber, Ben Zemanski, Jack Jewsbury, Norberto Paparatto, Michael Harrington] VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Andy O'Brien, Kendall Waston, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Russell Teibert, Mauro Rosales (Kekuta Manneh 65), Pedro Morales, Sebastian Fernandez (Nicolas Mezquida 76); Erik Hurtado (Darren Mattocks 76) [subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Ethen Sampson, Sam Adekugbe, Mehdi Ballouchy] CARL ROBINSON: On the overall game: "They got a good grip of the game when they scored their first goal. The first 20-25 minutes, I thought we were excellent. We weren't able to capitalise on that after a very good start and they have their very first shot and they score a goal, and goals change games, as we all know. "Then there wasn't really very much in the game, but one or two mistakes cost us in the end and obviously the 3-0 scoreline is not great for us. Performance wise was good, result wise was awful." Did Caps fade after a bright start? "I think we did. That's a fair assessment. But to come away from home and to start as bright as we did for 25 minutes and take the game to them, without getting the goal. But it doesn't matter what you do between the two penalty boxes it's what happens in penalty boxes that matters." Portland have eight unanswered goals now against Vancouver, do they just have the mark of this team? "Maybe. I know Caleb before the game, his comments were that the 3-0 would stand them in good stead. He must have had a crystal ball because it finished 3-0 again today." Are his team wilting under the pressure? "I don't think we're wilting. With teams, you try and take your chances when you can. If you don't take your chances then people can say whatever you want. I'm the manager of this team and if you want to say it's wilting then I'm wilting. Is it game over if Vancouver don't score the first goal? "You could be right. We have to get a goal somewhere to start maybe, because when we go a goal down we're probably not playing with the same energy or desire or confidence that we should do. But we've got to learn because we're not going to always score the first goal. "In the early part of the season we always scored the first goal. We were a team that was playing with confidence and creating chances and not wilting. Today we conceded the first goal and we lost our way a little bit, that's why getting in at halftime was important, but we managed to regroup again. The second goal was always going to be the crucial goal and fortunately enough for them they got it and unfortunately for me I didn't get it." Playoff battle over these next five games: "There's 15 points to play for. We're chasing them now. It's a different scenario when you're chasing a team rather than when a team's chasing you. So the ball's in their court. We can concentrate on our business and make sure that if we play like that, and get more people in the box to try and have the desire to score goals, we won't be far away." Will it give the team the spark they so badly need to be the chasers and not the chased? "I hope so because something's got to change," Robinson admitted. "We've had chances to pull away and haven't. They've had chances to catch us and they haven't. Today was their chance, they took it, they caught us and they're ahead of us now. So the dynamic might change a little bit but all you can concentrate on is your own business." On facing an in-form Real Salt Lake next after their 5-1 demolition of Colorado: "They were not bad, weren't they. We'll see next week after the game. It's a big challenge for us and if we want to play in big games, important games, we've got to cope with this pressure. There's a little bit of pressure on next week, some would say massive pressure, but put the pressure on me and let them play the way I know they can play. If we can do that and if we can get a chance or two and take a chance or two, then hopefully we can get a win." On bouncing back from this: "We've got to rebound back. The beauty of this game is that when you do lose you feel at the bottom of a pit, but when you do win, it makes it all the more relevant. You take moments when you win and realise that you've got to lose to win and we've got to take that on board today. We'll take it on the chin, I'll take it on the chin. We didn't win today, we conceded three goals, so I'm at fault so we'll go next week." DAVID OUSTED On the loss "I'm devastated right now. It's not a good way to lose, it's not a fun place to lose. I know you don't want to hear it, but there is five games left. We can't feel sorry for ourselves, we can't get down. We need to continue to work. If this ends our season, that's not ok, so we need to get back to it. We have Salt Lake next week and that's another big, big game." Message to the fans "We can only apologise to the fans. They've been great. They were great when we were coming in to the stadium and they got people talking about them. We can only apologise for what they're viewing right now but promise them that we won't give up, we won't stop fighting for the club or for them. Again, I go back to the five games left and we have to show them in these five games that we can come out with wins." On the playoff battle over these next five games: "I think Portland will drop points and if they do we need to capitalise on that. I believe we can push our way into the playoffs. It needs to be focussed on ourselves. We can't look at Portland, we can't look at everybody else. We need to look at performing in these last five games." Is it game over if Caps don't score first? "No. i still feel that 1-0 is 1-0. It's one goal. It's one chance that's got to be put away but no, it would be nice to just get ahead in a game and let them chase a little bit. We still need to continue what we're doing." Team better suited with being the chasers than the chased? "I think we need to come to terms with us being chasing and keep doing that for the rest of the season. I don't think we need to worry about anything else except getting points for ourselves. We can't look at anybody else. We need to chase those points and do it every weekend and then we'll look at it." ANDY O'BRIEN On the loss: "I thought for the first half hour we did OK. Then the goal took the wind out of our sails because it was their first attempt. It was a super finish. You can’t take anything away from them. It was disappointing sort of how we reacted to the goal. It’s something we have to take on the chin and dust it off. Irrespective of this result, there’s still a lot of work to be done. If we won this game, there’s still a lot of points to play for. Now we’re chasing them, so we’ll see how they react to that." On the team’s difficulties scoring goals: "We did have a few opportunities. They got men behind the ball and I think they were looking to break on us. Maybe in that first half hour we were trying to play and get the ideal goal. We have players that can shoot from distance. It’s great, hindsight, being able to look back on it. I’m sure we’ll analyze it. I know I’ll do. There’ll be things that we could have done better, but initially, even after the game, that was my observation of the first half hour." On the difficulty of getting the mentality right after a loss: "I think the way the league is set up is to go out and win games. We’re in a position now where we need to chase them. Even if we won this game, there’s still a lot of work to be done. Five games left now, so we’re looking forward to the next game." On if chasing Portland for a playoff spot will take pressure off: "I don’t know. You say we’re a young group and the only way you learn is by playing. A situation like this will stand us in good stead. In terms of the strikers, we’ve seen some fantastic goals this season. It’s been in sort of lumps and periods where we haven’t scored goals. We’re not going to throw anyone under the bus. We’ve got five games left and they’re a very important five and it starts with Salt Lake in the next game." On the feeling of watching the Timbers break away for their third goal: "I have to watch my language, but you need to get off your backside and get back as quick as you can. It was unfortunate. On another day that could end up dropping down at somebody’s feet like it did to [blas] Pérez last week for FC Dallas. It didn’t go our way. We have to dust ourselves down and get on with it." PORTLAND TIMBERS CALEB PORTER Overall thoughts on the game: "It was going to be a big game we knew that. It was going to be all six games, but like I told you guys leading into this game whoever won this game was going to be in the driver’s seat, so we control our fate. We take care of business in the next five then we are going to be in the playoffs, but we’ve got some work to do still. "I’m really pleased with our performance. This was a pressure game. This is crunch time. I knew that our experience in these situations last year when we got results under pressure was going to be pay off. I thought for me that was the biggest difference was that mentally we looked like we were confident, experienced and mature. I thought we were very patient and composed. I thought it was our best defensive game all year, I don’t even know what the stats are but from my standpoint I thought it was our best defensive performance of the year." On Vancouver's performance and containing them: "That is a good team, it’s a talented team and they didn’t get very many good looks all day long. I think a big part of it was our backline, our holding mids, all the way up through our front guys. It was team defending – sound collective defending, very organized. I thought our shape was very good. I thought we were disciplined. We were patient. It took us 27 minutes to get the first goal. In some games we haven’t been patient, we haven’t been organized, we’ve been a bit reckless trying to get that first goal and I thought today we looked very mature." On disciplined display: "When you get in games like this when, you’ve got to get results. We can’t be reckless. We don’t need to be flying up the field. We don’t need eight, nine, ten guys getting forward. I thought today our balance was right. I thought our shape was right. I thought our discipline and our patience allowed us to get the first goal and once we did I was really pleased second half we continued to stay disciplined and patient and scored on a couple of counters to put the game away." On Fanendo Adi’s play: "I told him before the game, ‘play like a man today’, was what I told him and he looked like a man. He was a beast. And he’s going against two of the strongest guys in the league [Andy] O’Brien and [Kendall] Waston. Those guys are tough matchup and I thought at times he manhandled them. A big part of our positive play in the attack was we were able to play through him and he was able to hold the ball up. It allowed us to get our midfielders into the game, it allowed us to get up the field. Then he obviously scored two great goals. People forget he’s still a young player, he’s only 23 years old and he’s still learning this league. He’s only been here a couple months. He’s only going to get better as he settles in. I thought he played like the true target, number nine that we want him to be, which is bang the centrebacks, hold the ball, get on the end of stuff and finish the couple plays you get, which is what he did." On Diego Valeri orchestrating the game: "He’s been instrumental for us this year. Obviously, he tied the single-season assist record, took the first goal and that was what for me opened the game up. It was a great finish. And I don’t know if there is anything more I can say about him. He’s in my opinion one of the best players in the league, if not the best." On whether Valeri still surprises him: "Yeah, he does. He’s special. He’s playing the best soccer of his career. It was funny I was walking through the locker room with him the other day when he was in there and I said to him, ‘you know you are playing the best football of your career right now’ and I wanted to see what he would say. And he said, ‘I think I am’. He’s had some good seasons. In the Argentine league and with Porto, but he is his prime right now and he is in a groove and that’s what you want out of your big time players at this stage in the season. You want an Adi to get a couple of goals. You want Darlington [Nagbe] to have a good game. He got an assist. You want Valeri to produce. He had a goal and an assist. This is what we need. Hopefully we will just continue to let this roll. I’ll stay out of those guys’ way and we will continue to produce. But again the thing that has been lacking at times wasn’t lacking today and that was the defending and for me that’s why we won the game." On whether he has settled on this line-up: "Well, it wouldn’t be too smart to change it at this point. I think we’ve got some other guys that are always going to be sniffing around to start. Maxi’s [urruti] shown he can produce, Gastón [Fernández] shown he can produce. We’ve got a deep team. This team, if you look at both Vancouver games, has felt like the type of team we need to be both sides of the ball and if you are looking at evidence those are probably our two best games of the year and we played the same line-up. The other thing is they have gained some confidence together. They’ve gained some chemistry. We haven’t been able to like I’ve said in the past get into a groove. So we are in a bit of groove with this line-up. This line-up does have the right dimensions in terms of team speed, enough technical ability, enough defensive organization and grit. It’s like pieces of the puzzles. I put my hand up there are a few games I haven’t put the puzzle together the right way, but I think we’ve certainly gotten it right recently with this group." On why this current defensive unit is successful: "I think our wingers our defending. That’s huge. There have been some games when our wingers aren’t defending outside backs. Our holding mids, I felt today was their best defensive game of the year. Chara and Johnson being on the same page, connected. That is a big part of how we play. We need the holding mids to protect the centrebacks, to protect the hole. I thought today both of them were outstanding. "I thought again today the balance was right. The outside backs got forward, but also got back. They weren’t both up the field at the same time. The d-mids got forward, but one was always sitting. The pulley system was working; the see-saw was working there. I thought the wingers chipped in to defend. A lot of times if they don’t we are defending with six guys versus seven or eight guys with the wingers getting tucked in. "The other thing is overall we all were a bit more patient and in control. We weren’t flying out all the time trying to win the ball. We were disciplined and our team shape, our compactness was much improved. So hopefully we can build on that because clean sheets at this stage of the season means you’re going to be a team getting points, getting results because we will find goals."
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