Then two substitutes combined to allow the Whitecaps to escape JELD-WEN Field with a 1-1 draw with the Timbers. Trailing 1-0 with just six minutes left in the second half, Eric Hassli was able to get his head to a long Martin Bonjour free kick. He nodded the ball over to Darren Mattocks, who chested the ball down and then hammered home the first MLS goal of his career.
Hassli and Mattocks injected some life into a Whitecaps team that, for the first 60 minutes of the match, managed just one shot on goal towards Timbers keeper Troy Perkins — that was a Sebsastien Le Toux effort that deflected off Timber Hanyer Mosquera and forced the keeper into a good diving save.
Until Hassli and Mattocks were partnered in the front, the Whitecaps’ offensive output looked almost as lethargic as it did Wednesday in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship final. A front three of Davide Chiumiento, Camilo and Le Toux didn’t generate much — and the first half of a whole was more memorable for the lightning, rain and hail that arrived close to halftime than it was for the soccer on display.
After a delay because of the lightning, the game was recharged in the second half. It was the Timbers who came knocking on the door, and the home side — wearing its red and white change kit that makes the Timbers look like Arsenal —finally got the lead it deserved. Jack Jewsbury floated a cross into the area. Whitecaps goalkeeper Joe Cannon backpedalled and was only able to get a hand to it. Kris Boyd, the Timbers’ high-profile Scottish striker, was able to beat defender Jay DeMerit to the loose ball and popped it in.
DeMerit did make up for losing that battle to Boyd just minutes later, as he recovered and was able to thwart a Jorge Perlaza chance after the striker had sprinted past the veteran defender.
While the Timbers kept coming, the Whitecaps were limited to long, speculative chances. But, after Hassli came in, the Whitecaps were able to sustain more pressure in Timbers territory. And, when Mattocks came on for Camilo, coach Martin Rennie had finally discovered the combination to unlock the Timbers’ defence.
Still, with the embarrassment of riches at his disposal, Rennie is currently getting very little return from his attackers. In two ACC matches against TFC, the Whitecaps’ offensive output consisted of one wonder goal from Hassli — which was more about individual genius than team attack.
And that’s the thing. The strikers aren’t getting any creative help from the midfield. The likes of Jun Marques Davidson, Gershon Koffie and John Thorrington epitomize the hard-working midfielder Rennie likes to employ. But they aren’t players who are going to link up with the strikers in the most artful of ways. Should Rennie sacrifice some of that midfield edge for flair?
This is for sure. Mattocks’ goal disguises what was a pretty disappointing game from the Whitecaps. The Whitecaps got a disappointing result out of a good effort against the Sounders last week. And, heck, the first leg of the ACC final saw Hassli’s wonder goal mitigate what was a disappointing game overall from the Caps. The Whitecaps are starting to turn throwing points away into a pattern.