Photo courtesy Sam Ortega / Portland Timbers 2
PORTLAND, Ore. – Thomas Sanner scored with six minutes to go to earn Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 a 1-0 victory against the Portland Timbers 2 on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park. Portland had the better of the game throughout the first half, and almost took the lead in the 33rd minute when Victor Arboleda broke in on goal on a counter-attack, but was denied by WFC2 goalkeeper Sean Melvin with a fine save. The game went to the break scoreless, however, and Vancouver opened the second half brightly. Arboleda was denied again from the left side of the penalty area by Melvin after a fine pass by Villyan Bijev in the 64th minute. Melvin again came up big to deny Jack Barmby two minutes later, and his save proved key as Vancouver took the lead with six minutes to go. On a counter-attack, Gloire Amanda was released on the left, and fired a low shot to the far corner. T2 goalkeeper Jeff Attinella parried the effort, but Thomas Sanner was on hand to tap home the rebound for a late lead.
84’ – VAN – Thomas Sanner
Three Things That Matter:
1. With a bolstered squad, Portland had much the better of the first half, but thanks to a strong defensive display Vancouver emerged unscathed as Cole Seiler and Francis de Vries both held firm in the center of the WFC2 defense. Seiler recorded three clearances, and de Vries six, as T2 was unable to make its pressure tell in the final third. Goalkeeper Sean Melvin was also solid, making three saves in the first half that included a big one-on-one stop on 2016 USL 20 Under 20 selection Victor Arboleda that kept Vancouver in the game.
2. 2016 USL assists champion Villyan Bijev had yet to record an assist for T2 this season so far, but his overall play shone for Portland as he provided a center-point for Portland’s attack. Bijev missed only two passes in the first half, and his set-piece delivery from the left side was more often than not on the mark, only missing a final touch to give T2 the lead. Among a number of players from the Timbers’ MLS squad in the lineup, Bijev’s overall performance put him at least on par with those around him.
3. As the game went on, with Melvin making another good save in the second half to deny T2’s Arboleda in the second half after a great pass from Bijev, the feeling WFC2 would find a goal grew, and with six minutes to go it arrived. A three-on-two counter-attack was played well by Vancouver, and while Gloire Amanda’s initial shot was saved, Thomas Sanner was on hand to put home the winner as WFC2 took a second consecutive win, and sent T2 to a fifth consecutive defeat to start the season.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Sean Melvin, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 – Melvin put in a stellar performance with five saves behind a strong defensive performance, and allowed his side to grab a second consecutive victory against a Cascadia rival.
Portland Timbers 2 at Sacramento Republic FC – April 22, 10:30 p.m. ET, Papa Murphy’s Park
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 vs. San Antonio FC – April 22, 6 p.m. ET, Thunderbird Stadium