Carl's Keys to the Game vs. Portland Timbers

The legend talks about focus, the first goal, and the Miller factor

Keys vs. Portland - Miller

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USA Today Sports Images

Preview: Whitecaps FC prepare to host Portland Timbers

All-important first goal

It goes without saying that getting the first goal is key in any game, but I’ll say it anyway.

When you look at the results we’ve had at home and the position this team finds itself in, getting on the board first will settle the nerves and energize the crowd. As simple as it sounds, goals change games. It’s tough when you concede first and then have to chase the game.

When we played in Portland back in August, we hounded them right from the opening whistle and they didn’t like it. We pressured them and created turnovers in their end but couldn’t capitalize on a solid first-half performance and had to settle for a come-from-behind draw.

Getting a win on Sunday will put us atop the Cascadia Cup standing and give as a major morale boost for the rest of the MLS season. This is a chance to put us in position to win a Cup and it’s just the tonic we need right now. 

Kenny Miller scores his eighth goal of the season

Miller factor

At this point, Rennie hasn’t revealed whether or not Kenny Miller is fit enough to play on Sunday, but the ‘Caps are going to have to find a way to win with or without him.

There’s no doubt that it will be a big boost for our ‘Caps if he’s in the starting lineup and that we’re a much better team when he plays. He sets the tone on putting defenders under pressure, is very savvy at finding space all over the park and is always likely to provide a scoring chance for a teammate or himself. When he’s playing, the opposition has to try and keep an eye on him at all times, which really opens things up for the rest of the team.

If it so happens that Miller cannot play, the team has to overcome this. It will be up to the whole team, and not just the player who replaces him, to fill the void and get the job done.

Last meeting: Portland Timbers 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Focused for 90

With this being a derby match and so much at stake, the tensions will be high and I expect it to be a very tight game. Both teams will be ready to battle this out and they will not want to give anything up early.

It could be a very cagey affair, which would put more of an emphasis on set plays for and against as both teams look for an edge. It will be very important to keep our focus for 90 minutes at both ends of the pitch. Chances could be few and far between, but when one comes our way we have to be clinical.

At the other end, we have to keep our wits about us defend like our lives depend on it. The outcome of this game could come down to one brilliant moment or a tragic mistake, so we have to be on our game for the 90 minutes and beyond.