VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Caleb Porter spent the last few days trying to patch together a lineup with injuries, suspensions and international duty ravaging his roster.
At the final whistle Sunday, the Portland Timbers coach pumped a jubilant and relieved fist in celebration before hugging his assistants — a reaction not usually seen after a July match in Major League Soccer.
Sebastian Blanco scored early in the second half and the Timbers beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 to snap a six-game winless streak.
Portland dressed just 16 players instead of the usual 18, with Porter having to call up two members of the club’s USL affiliate to fill out his bench.
“This was one of those moments that remind you as a coach of why you roll up your sleeves and go to war every single day,” Porter said. “There have been a lot of bullets flying everywhere, and we brought that on ourselves, but some of it has been just really unlucky.”
Jeremy Ebobisse set up the winner and also scored for Portland (8-8-6). The Timbers were 0-3-3 during the winless streak Andrew Jacobson scored for Vancouver (8-8-3).
Portland strikers Fanendo Adi and Victor Arboleda were suspended for the match after getting sent off Wednesday night a 4-1 home loss to Real Salt Lake. Midfielders Darlington Nagbe and David Guzman, defender Alvas Powell and forward Darren Mattocks are away on Gold Cup duty, and defenders Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles tendon), Liam Ridgewell (quad), Amobi Okugo (knee), Chance Myers (hamstring) and Vytas Andriuskevicius (calf) also were unavailable.
“I said to the guys all week and I reminded them before the game that when it’s easy, it’s easy to do things right, and it’s easy to go out and be confident and play well,” Porter said. “I knew that I would see the best out of them.”
Porter and Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson, who have butted heads in the past, had a less-than-friendly exchange moments after the game.
“I just said ‘congratulations’ to him. That was it,” Robinson said.
Porter said: “It’s between Carl and I. We shook hands … there’s a comment and I didn’t care for it.”
Blanco scored in the 49th minute. The Argentine midfielder sliced through the defense, took a back-heel return pass from Ebobisse and rolled the ball past a helpless goalkeeper David Ousted.
Ebobisse scored in the 14th minute in his first MLS start, and Jacobson tied it in the 45th.
“First half we played exceptionally well, got the equalizer just before halftime,” Robinson said. “When you give a good team like Portland the lead five minutes into the second half, it’s very difficult.”
TIMBERS 2, WHITECAPS 1
Portland 1 1—2
Vancouver 1 0—1
First half—1, Portland, Ebobisse, 1 (Asprilla), 14th minute. 2, Vancouver, Jacobson, 2 (Parker), 45th.
Second half—3, Portland, Blanco, 4 (Ebobisse), 49th.
Goalies—Portland, Jake Gleeson; Vancouver, David Ousted.
Yellow Cards—Mezquida, Vancouver, 46th; Ousted, Vancouver, 77th; Miller, Portland, 79th; Barmby, Portland, 84th; Zemanski, Portland, 90th.
Referee—Chris Penso. Assistant Referees—Cameron Blanchard, Ian Anderson. 4th Official—Baboucarr Jallow.
Portland—Jake Gleeson; Larrys Mabiala, Roy Miller, Zarek Valentin; Sebastian Blanco, Diego Chara, Lawrence Olum, Diego Valeri, Ben Zemanski; Dairon Asprilla (Harold Hanson, 89th), Jeremy Ebobisse (Jack Barmby, 78th).
Vancouver—David Ousted; Jordan Harvey, Jakob Nerwinski, Tim Parker; Christian Bolanos, Andrew Jacobson, Matias Laba, Tony Tchani (Alphonso Davies, 64th); Nicolas Mezquida (Yordy Reyna, 60th), Fredy Montero (Brek Shea, 75th), Cristian Techera.