Matchcentre

VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC visit rival Portland Timbers on Saturday afternoon in a much-anticipated Cascadia derby at Providence Park.

KICKOFF: 2 p.m. PT  TV: TSN1  RADIO: TSN 1410  MOBILE: bell.ca/mobiletv  ONLINE: TSN GO

Here are three storylines to get you set for the match.

RUBBER MATCH

This will be the decisive third and final meeting between Vancouver and Portland this season, with each team having won a game away from home. The ‘Caps won 4-3 at Providence Park back in June, their first-ever win over the Timbers in MLS, before falling 3-0 last month at BC Place.

In that particular game, Andy O’Brien said the ‘Caps made Portland look “a little better than they were.”

So how do they prevent that from happening again?

“Being able to get at them is a big thing,” said David Ousted. “We have a team that’s good offensively and we need to show that … and we need to show that we can put on a fight. That we won’t get out-battled and out-tackled. If we do that, I know we can outplay them.”

MIDFIELD BATTLE

Win the midfield battle, win the game.

That’s the way Carl Robinson sees it. And Saturday’s midfield battle should be a treat to watch.

There are two of the league’s top attacking midfielders in Pedro Morales and Diego Valeri, two of the top holding midfielders in Matias Laba and Diego Chara, and an intriguing Canadian clash between Russell Teibert and Will Johnson, who were roommates with the Canadian national team.

Then, of course, you have Mauro Rosales and Darlington Nagbe – two of the top wingers in MLS.

Does it get much better?

“I’m glad that you’re talking about their top midfielders against our top midfielders because I really think that we have a top midfield at this club now,” Robinson said. “It’s going to be vital. Whoever comes on top will probably win the game.”

PLAYOFF PUSH

Get used to this one.

As will likely be the case for the remainder of the season, Saturday’s match has major playoff implications for both sides.

With six matches remaining, the ‘Caps are one point up on Portland for the fifth and final playoff position in the Western Conference.

Need we say more?

“This is playoff soccer,” Teibert said. “This is what we live for and what we play for. It's the most exciting time of the year, aside from the playoffs itself. I know everybody can't wait. I can't wait, I'm sure the fans can't wait, this whole organization must be excited. We're one point ahead and we're going down to Portland to win.”

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