Pitchside: Portland Timbers v Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Martin Rennie tried it three times. Tommy Soehn got his shot at it. But not since the days of Teitur Thórdarson, back in the old USL First Division, has a Whitecaps manager walked into Portland for a league match and left with all three points. However, Carl Robinson's notable omission was not for a lack of trying.

As the second minute approached, Kekuta Manneh and Erik Hurtado faced Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chara near the Portland corner flag. While Manneh held the ball, Nagbe and Chara closed him down, with Chara winning the ball.

The Colombian sent a long ball past the centre circle and found his namesake, Diego Valeri, who slipped the ball to Maximiliano Urruti, who got Nigel Reo-Coker turning, and despite a late lunge from Captain Jay DeMerit, Portland lead 1-0 after less than two and a half minutes.

In the past, the Whitecaps had let early blows get to them, to knock them off their game, as they had against Salt Lake back in April when they found themselves down two goals after just nine minutes.

 Erik Hurtado scored his fourth goal in four matches. Will he make it five for five against the Union?

Erik Hurtado scored his fourth goal in four matches. Will he make it five for five against the Union?

In the 14th minute, Erik Hurtado took on Diego Chara, who may have fouled him just outside the box. To Hurtado's credit, he did not go down, and to referee Kevin Stott's credit, he played advantage. With Jack Jewsbury and Rauwshan McKenzie also closing the Beaverton-native down, Hurtado never looked likely to score.

But then, with the ball already in front of Hurtado, and very likely to be mopped up by one of Jewsbury or McKenzie, Chara tripped Hurtado, and the big Oregonian went down in the box. While we think it was fair, the Timbers Army were right to call the penalty a bit harsh as Chara was trying to play the ball, he was just a little late.

Since the departure of Kenny Miller, whom we understand will be signing with Rangers FC any day now, Pedro Morales has become the Whitecaps designated penalty taker, and he calmly buried it from the spot in the 16th minute.

As the 24th minute approached, Kekuta Manneh tried to take the ball around Pa Modou Kah in the Portland penalty box. With the ball already past the Norwegian defender, Kah stuck his knee out, sending Manneh tumbling over.

Before the referee could even make a decision on that matter, Sebastián Fernández dove into the box, scrambling to reach the loose ball. Jorge Villafana clipped him from behind, and before Manneh had even reached his feet again, there was another Whitecap flying in the box. Again, the referee pointed to the spot, and again, Morales buried it.

With their league-leading 22-match unbeaten streak at home on the line, the Timbers pressed for the equaliser, spending a notable few minutes of stoppage time in the Whitecaps penalty box, but they could not beat David Ousted.

 Darren Mattocks and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC took a giant leap forward on Sunday night.

Darren Mattocks and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC took a giant leap forward on Sunday night.

And then, Morales found Hurtado near the penalty spot. Although Donovan Ricketts did make the first safe, the ball bounced back towards the young Whitecap, who banged it home with his thigh in a Rooney-esque move.

Just under four minutes into the restart, Pedro Morales, with acres of space on the right flank, crossed the ball to Jordan Harvey, who was just inside the box, who scored his seventh goal for the Whitecaps.

And although the Timbers would put the scare into the Whitecaps with 77th and 86th minute goals, nothing could spoil this evening.

The full allotment of 750 travelling supporters, plus a number who bought tickets in the Portland sections, saw the Whitecaps score four goals, concede three, and walk away for the first time in five years with all three points.

These away can be tricky affairs. It is difficult for a few hundred or even a few thousand, to be heard over tens of thousands. In the past, I've been asked whether or not I could hear the chants from the pitch. More often than not, I can't. It's a numbers game. But today, the numbers were with us, and I recorded a sampling of what it was like.

Of course, there is still work to be done. There always is when you concede three goals. But these Whitecaps have proven that they can score on anyone, which is a good thing to know, since their next opponent, the Philadelphia Union, have never conceded to the Whitecaps.

On June 7th in Philadelphia, the Whitecaps will put that record to the test. Click here to open our fullscreen slideshow.