MLS Snapshot: Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Portland Timbers

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The game in 100 words (or less): Usually big rivalry games are cagey, disjointed affairs lacking a bit of quality, but that is rarely the case in the Cascadia Cup, no matter which two sides are playing. Carl Robinson will be pleased with his side’s newfound ability to win low-scoring games and typically hold on from a winning position. This time they needed a second goal for three points, but the balance between attack and defense remains much better from the ‘Caps.

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Three moments that mattered

15′ — Mezquida’s curler sneaks inside the post — With Mauro Rosales currently injured, Nicolas Mezquida is currently in charge of taking free kicks for the Whitecaps, and it’s a good thing. The 23-year-old Uruguayan curled his 15th-minute effort over the wall and inside the near post to give the ‘Caps an early lead.

82′ — Adi finishes a lethal Timbers counter attack — Nagbe, to Rodney Wallace, to Fanendo Adi — it’s becoming a pretty routine combination for Caleb Porter’s side, and that’s a very good thing. Nagbe put Wallace into space, which he quickly gobbled up and fed Adi with an easy one six yards out from an empty net.

90′ — Earnshaw with the winner three minutes into his debut — Robert Earnshaw isn’t the most complete forward in MLS by any stretch of the imagination. What he still does really, really well, though, is finish chances one-on-one with the ‘keeper. Pedro Morales provided the splitting through ball and Earnshaw provided the lifted finish and the front flip.

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Man of the match: Darlington Nagbe — He was nearly perfect with his passing (93 percent) and almost always the best player on the field when he asserts himself and takes control of the game. If not for David Ousted, Portland win this game with Nagbe at the heart of everything they do.

LINEUPS

Vancouver Whitecaps: Ousted, Beitashour, Waston, Kah, Adekugbe, Laba, Koffie (Flores 72′), Hurtado (Earnshaw 87′), Morales, Mezquida (Froese 58′), Rivero

Goals: Mezquida (15′), Earnshaw (90′)

Portland Timbers: Kwarasey, Powell, Borchers, Ridgewell, Villafana, Nagbe, Chara, Fochive (Fernandez 75′), Wallace, Urruti (Asprilla 65′), Adi

Goals: Adi (82′)