Masato Kudo scored his first MLS goal to spark a 2-1 comeback victory by the Vancouver Whitecaps over their Cascadia Cup rivals the Portland Timbers at a sun-splashed BC Place on Saturday afternoon, seizing early pole position in the Pacific Northwest's three-team regional rivalry.
Portland grabbed a first-half lead with a slick team goal marked by a fluid passing sequence between Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi that was finished by Nat Borchers' back-post tap-in. But the Whitecaps peppered Jake Gleeson's goal with shots all day, and the breakthrough eventually arrived on the hour mark, when Kudo snuck a canny strike past the New Zealand goalkeeper at the near post.
The busy Gleeson made a whopping 11 saves on the day, several of them spectacular. Yet he was left red-faced again six minutes later when Christian Bolanos' teasing cross-shot slipped past him, Vancouver substitute Blas Perez running across his field of vision to distract him as the ball arrived.
The win pushes the Whitecaps ahead of Portland in the Western Conference standings, and also pushes them to 2-0 in the Cascadia Cup standings after two games between the three participants. Vancouver and Portland meet again at Providence Park in two weeks' time.
1. HERO TO GOAT? Jake Gleeson was scintillating in goal for the Timbers last week, and for most of this game as well. But two small missteps were viciously exploited by VWFC: First Kudo caught him leaning ever-so-slightly to his left in anticipation of a cross from the Japanese international, and shortly afterwards when he was deceived by Perez's run across his face on the game-winner.
2. CLASSIC CASCADIAN CHAOS: There's just something about this rivalry that seems to open up otherwise cautious coaches and teams. Despite these two teams having utilized a reactive, counterattacking style for most of the year, this game flowed from end to end for most of the 90 minutes, to the delight of neutral viewers.
3. NAGBE NICENESS: It wasn't enough to earn points for his team in the end, but Portland's star was in fine form in both directions on this occasion. Nagbe tracked back relentlessly in support of Diego Chara, and glided past Whitecaps at will when he took the ball forward into the attack. US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann will have taken note.
- 34’ – POR – Nat Borchers (Darlington Nagbe, Fanendo Adi)
- 60’ – VAN – Masato Kudo
- 66’ – VAN – Christian Bolanos (Masato Kudo)
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