MLS expansion cousins Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers prepare to meet in The City of Roses
Preparing for their second Cascadia Cup derby match of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3W-12L-9D) head to The City of Roses for a Saturday evening showdown with 2011 Major League Soccer expansion cousins Portland Timbers (7W-12L-5D).
Whitecaps FC are looking to bounce back from a very disappointing defeat at D.C. United last weekend by earning an important road result against one of their Pacific Northwest rivals. Portland's intimidating JELD-WEN Field will be the venue for this much-anticipated derby clash, with Tom Soehn's squad facing a Timbers side that are in a battle to reach the MLS Cup Playoffs in their inaugural year in the league.
Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Oregon, kicks off at 7 p.m. PT and is live on TSN and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday's derby clash live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show following the match.
The need to bounce back has been foremost in the minds of Whitecaps FC this week, with Soehn's squad trying to erase the memory of last Saturday's 4-0 loss at D.C. United. It was a very disappointing display from the Blue and White, and not the best way to build up for a derby match with Portland. With pride and Pacific Northwest bragging rights on the line, the 'Caps will want to improve defensively in the state of Oregon, with the Timbers equally as effective as United in attacking sides on the break.
As for testing their hosts, Vancouver will want to show an improved attacking performance to their travelling support of 500 fans in Portland after struggling to create many clear-cut opportunities in D.C. With an electric atmosphere expected at JELD-WEN Field, the 'Caps will be keen to score the game's first goal and quiet down the home supporters. The likes of Eric Hassli, Mustapha Jarju, Camilo, and Shea Salinas will play key roles in trying to put the Timbers under pressure on Saturday night.
Whitecaps FC are still without striker Atiba Harris. Last Friday, the St Kitts & Nevis international underwent a successful meniscectomy to his right knee. The operation comes after the experienced MLS attacker had meniscal repair surgery to his right knee on April 26. Goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre (knee), defender Alain Rochat (adductor strain), and midfielders Alexandre Morfaw (hamstring) and Michael Nanchoff (hip flexor) are all listed as questionable.
In the midst of a busy spell of league games, Portland are looking to defy the odds and reach the MLS postseason in their expansion year. The arrival of Vancouver this weekend makes it the third match in less than a week for John Spencer's side, with the Timbers coming off a disappointing three-match road stint. The Oregon outfit followed a 1-1 draw at San Jose Earthquakes with defeats at Houston Dynamo last weekend and at Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday night. After clashing with the 'Caps, Portland will have a short turnaround when they host Chivas USA next Wednesday.
While their legs may be a bit heavy from playing several games in a short space of time, the Timbers have proven to be a formidable opponent at their JELD-WEN Field home, with six of their seven league wins coming in front of their passionate support base. Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury leads the club with seven goals and seven assists so far this season, while experienced striker Kenny Cooper provides Portland with a physical presence in attack. The Colombian pair of midfielder Diego Chara and striker Jorge Perlaza offer the threat of pace and skill, while winger Sal Zizzo has been effective playing down Portland's right flank. On Friday, the Timbers acquired midfielder Eric Alexander from FC Dallas in exchange for midfielder/defender Jeremy Hall.
The Timbers will have defender Lovel Palmer available after the former Houston player missed this week's Sporting KC match through suspension. However, Spencer is still without several players. They include defender Kevin Goldthwaite (knee), as well as strikers Eddie Johnson (concussion) and Spencer Thompson (knee). Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson (elbow sprain) is listed as questionable.
While Saturday's match will be the first-ever MLS clash between these Pacific Northwest rivals, it is the 68th all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and the Timbers, going back to the 1975 North American Soccer League (NASL) season. Both clubs will meet again in the newly-renovated BC Place on Sunday, October 2.
Whitecaps FC hold an all-time competitive record of 33 wins, 24 defeats, and 10 draws versus the Timbers, with Vancouver registering 10 wins, 17 defeats, and seven draws all-time in The City of Roses. This included 10 wins and 11 defeats versus Portland in the old NASL between 1975 and 1982, as well as 22 wins, 10 defeats, and eight draws against the Timbers in the old United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) between 2001 and 2009. In the 2010 United States Soccer Federation Division-2 Professional League (USSF D-2) season, Whitecaps FC registered one win, three defeats, and two draws versus the Timbers.
There are also several connections between both squads. At D.C. United in 2007, Jay Nolly backed up Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins, while Soehn was United head coach. Portland's Peter Lowry and Vancouver's John Thorrington were teammates with Chicago Fire, while Jewsbury and 'Caps defender Jonathan Leathers were teammates at Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC). Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson and 'Caps centre back Michael Boxall are New Zealand internationals, while Jarju and Portland defender Mamadou Danso are Gambian internationals. Portland's Darlington Nagbe and Vancouver's Michael Nanchoff were teammates at the University of Akron, while the 'Caps pair of Jeb Brovsky and Bilal Duckett played with Timbers striker Bright Dike at the University of Notre Dame.
Saturday's match will also be Whitecaps FC's second game in this year's Cascadia Cup competition, with 2011 being the first year that Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland are contesting the fan-based trophy as MLS clubs. Founded in 2004, the competition was conceived amongst the supporters of all three clubs, who were then members of USL-1. The Cascadia Cup is awarded to the club that has the best head-to-head record in regular season matches between their Pacific Northwest rivals. Sounders FC currently lead the 2011 standings with five points from three matches played (1W-0L-2D), while Whitecaps FC sit second after claiming one point from one match - a thrilling 2-2 draw at Seattle on June 11. The Timbers are third with one point from two games played (0W-1L-1D). The 'Caps will contest the final three games in this year's competition.
Whitecaps FC are the most successful Cascadia Cup side, having won the trophy in 2004, 2005, and 2008. Before joining MLS in 2009, the USL-1 Sounders were cup winners in 2006 and 2007, while Portland won the title in 2009 and 2010 when the trophy was only contested between Whitecaps FC and the Timbers at the North American second division level.
HOME TO HOUSTON
Following this weekend's derby clash in Portland, Whitecaps FC return home to play their final match in the month of August, as they host Eastern Conference club Houston Dynamo on Saturday, August 27. Kickoff from Bell Pitch at Empire Field is set for 4 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).
Whitecaps FC's home match versus Houston Dynamo can also be seen live on TSN 2 and Bell mobile devices at 4 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the August 27 contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show following the match.
MLS single match tickets are also available for all of remaining matches at Empire Field this season, ranging from $20 to $55 (including HST). All tickets are subject to applicable service charges and fees. Fans can purchase these tickets at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca/whitecaps, or Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).