Whitecaps FC gear up for Cascadia Cup clash at Portland Timbers

'Caps and Portland clash at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday

Playing their second Cascadia Cup match of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-3L-3D) head down Interstate 5 this weekend for an important Major League Soccer meeting with Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers (3W-5L-3D) on Saturday evening.

The Blue and White complete a very busy month of May with a fourth-straight derby contest, having played twice versus Toronto FC and the Cascadia Cup curtain raiser versus Seattle Sounders FC last weekend. Martin Rennie’s side will look to return to winning ways after the midweek disappointment of falling to TFC in this year’s Amway Canadian Championship final. Expansion cousins in 2011, the ‘Caps visit a Portland side that have had a challenging start to their second season in MLS.

Saturday’s match between Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers from 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 match 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, which will begin following the match at around 9 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

WHITECAPS FC

There has been much to ponder for the ‘Caps ahead their weekend trip to Oregon. Missing out again on a Canadian Championship title will have stung Rennie’s squad, particularly after the way Whitecaps FC struggled through the decisive second leg at Toronto’s BMO Field on Wednesday night. It was an out-of-character performance from the ‘Caps, especially after the many fine displays that Vancouver supporters have enjoyed from their side so far this season. With no CONCACAF Champions League soccer to contend with this year, complete focus will now be applied to making the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time. A result in Portland would be the perfect way to bounce back from more Voyageurs Cup heartache.

Whitecaps FC are without goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre and striker Atiba Harris for the derby clash in Portland, as the pair are currently sidelined with unrelated knee problems.

TIMBERS

Boasting one of the most intimidating match atmospheres in MLS, the Timbers took plenty of encouragement from their expansion season in 2011. With expectations for a stronger campaign this year, Portland have not exactly fired on all cylinders through the first third of the current campaign. Yet, last Sunday’s home win over Chicago Fire ended a three-match winless run and raised confidence that John Spencer’s side can quickly get back into playoff contention in the Western Conference. The visit of Vancouver offers Portland the opportunity to close the gap on the conference frontrunners and make a positive start to their Cascadia Cup campaign. The Timbers will look to Designated Player Kris Boyd and 2011 MLS SuperDraft pick Darlington Nagbe for firepower, with both players sharing the top of Portland’s scoring chart with three goals each.

The Timbers have a fully-fit squad to select from, having played a friendly on Wednesday night - a 1-0 home defeat to Spanish side Valencia CF.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Saturday's match is the 70th all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and Portland, going back to the 1975 North American Soccer League (NASL) season. Their first MLS meeting went the way of the Timbers in Portland on August 20, 2011, as first-half goals by the Colombian pair of Diego Chara and Jorge Perlaza helped the City of Roses outfit to a 2-1 victory at JELD-WEN Field. Camilo Sanvezzo replied in the second half for the 'Caps. Their last meeting on October 2, 2011, saw Whitecaps FC play their first match in the newly renovated BC Place. That game also went the way of Portland, as Kenny Cooper’s first-half goal earned the Timbers a 1-0 victory in the downtown Vancouver stadium.

Vancouver hold an all-time competitive record of 33 wins, 26 defeats, and 10 draws versus Portland, with Whitecaps FC registering 10 wins, 18 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 United States Soccer Federation Division-2 Professional League (USSF D-2) season of 2010, Whitecaps FC registered one win, three defeats, and two draws versus Portland.

There are several player connections between these two Pacific Northwest rivals. In 2008, Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Brad Knighton spent time on loan with Portland in USL-1 when he was a member of New England Revolution. ‘Caps youngster Omar Salgado also trained with the Timbers during the USSF D-2 season of 2010, while Timbers midfielder Charles Renken had a short spell with the Whitecaps FC Residency program in the 2009-10 year. ‘Caps centre back Michael Boxall and Portland goalkeeper Jake Gleeson are currently on international duty with New Zealand, while Whitecaps FC midfielder Gershon Koffie and Timbers counterpart Kalif Alhassan have appeared for their native Ghana at the U-20 international level. The Vancouver pair of Darren Mattocks and Michael Nanchoff are former teammates with Portland’s Darlington Nagbe at University of Akron, while Whitecaps FC defender Greg Klazura played with Timbers striker Bright Dike at University of Notre Dame.

As members of the Western Conference, Whitecaps FC and the Timbers will meet two more times in the 2012 regular season. Vancouver will make a second visit to JELD-WEN Field to face Portland on Saturday, August 25, before hosting the Timbers at BC Place on Sunday, October 21.

CASCADIA CUP

Saturday’s match will be the second game in this year’s Cascadia Cup competition. This is the second season that Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle Sounders FC will contest 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 MLS regular season matches between their Pacific Northwest rivals.

Sounders FC won the first all-MLS Cascadia Cup title in 2011 after registering a 2W-0L-2D record to finish top of the three-club standings. The Timbers were second with a 2W-1L-1D record, while Whitecaps FC finished third with 0W-3L-1D record. The ’Caps enter the 2012 season still in search of their first Cascadia Cup match victory as an MLS club.

Seattle join Whitecaps FC as the two most successful sides in the Cascadia Cup. Vancouver won the trophy in 2004, 2005, and 2008, while Sounders FC won the title as a USL-1 club in 2006 and 2007, and as an MLS outfit in 2011. Portland won the Cascadia Cup 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 THE DYNAMO

Following their latest Cascadia Cup clash, Whitecaps FC will take a two-week break from action before hosting Eastern Conference club Houston Dynamo on Sunday, June 10. Kickoff from BC Place 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). CLICK HERE for more information on Whitecaps FC tickets.

Whitecaps FC's home match versus Houston Dynamo can also be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific and Bell mobile devices at 4 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the June 10 match 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, which will begin following the match at around 6 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.

Whitecaps FC are pleased to announce that two match packs for the 2012 season are now on sale. Starting at the affordable price of $119, match packs include five Major League Soccer regular season matches and offer significant savings over individual match prices. To purchase your match pack, call 604.669.9283 ext. 3, or email sales@whitecapsfc.com. For additional information on match packs, visit whitecapsfc.com/match-packs.