Portland Timbers: Evander shows what "he's capable of" in Cascadia Cup win


We've seen this story before. After a slow start to the season, the Portland Timbers are picking up steam.

They were electric straight out of the gates Saturday night at Providence Park. Franck Boli opened the scoring after just 79 seconds, setting the stage for a 3-1 Cascadia Cup win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC as part of MLS Rivalry Week.

The turnaround? Well, it's in large part down to the form of Evander. Signed in the offseason for a club-record transfer fee (reported $10 million), the Brazilian playmaker struggled to hit the ground running in MLS. But three goals and two assists in his last three games have changed not just the narrative, but momentum in the Rose City. After winning just one of their first seven games, they've now won three of their last five.

"Every game I'm feeling much more comfortable with the team," the Designated Player said after notching a brace against Vancouver. "The team understands the way I play as well, so we're getting this connection and hopefully I can give much more goals and assists for the team, and of course going for the victory, which is most important."

That connection was on full display during Evander's first goal of the evening, combining intuitively in the box with Santiago Moreno and Juan Mosquera to dance past the Whitecaps' defense.

"I think while they're building chemistry, you can see the things that we saw today. They can create great moments," head coach Gio Savarese told media, clearly pleased. "I thought it was the best performance of some of these players, especially Evander. Evander looked today what we know that he's capable of, and I still think there's more there for him to continue to grow. Game by game he's feeling better."

Now up to sixth place in the Western Conference table, Portland put in their most complete performance of the season in what players and coaches called a derby match against a Cascadia rival.

"I think it just shows us how good we are, how good we are when we play together, when we play as a team," said Evander, who arrived from Denmark's FC Midtjylland. "When we play soccer and enjoy the game, things become much easier. The win today gives us more confidence."

That confidence certainly seems to be coming from the top down.

Said Savarese bluntly: "All around, we always thought we had this game in hand."