Preview: Vancouver and Portland put unbeaten streaks on the line Sunday at Providence Park
VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s first Cascadia derby of 2014 didn’t disappoint. And they don’t have to wait long for their second.
After a thrilling 2-2 draw with first-place Seattle Sounders FC, Whitecaps FC (MLS RS 4W-2L-5D -- CC 0W-0L-1D) are off to Portland this weekend for their first meeting of the season with the Timbers (MLS RS 3W-3L-7D -- CC 0W-0L-1D).
Kickoff for Sunday’s match is set for 6 p.m. PT at Providence Park. You can watch the match live on TSN, Bell mobile devices, and TSN GO. The match will also air live on TEAM 1410 and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 4 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-match show immediately following the match.
Sunday’s match has all the makings of another Cascadia classic. The ‘Caps are undefeated in their last five MLS matches, while the Timbers are unbeaten in six. The two teams also drew all three of their meetings last season and each have a point in 2014 Cascadia Cup play.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Highlights: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-2 Seattle Sounders FC
In their most recent outing, Vancouver outshot Seattle by a 24-8 margin but were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw after Sounders FC equalized on a late penalty.
Second-year striker/winger Erik Hurtado, who grew up just outside Portland, and Ghanaian midfielder Gershon Koffie provided the scoring for Whitecaps FC. It was Hurtado’s third goal in as many matches (in all competitions), while Koffie became Vancouver’s ninth goalscorer this season – no team has more goalscorers in all of MLS.
Chilean midfielder Pedro Morales picked up an assist on Hurtado’s goal, his third of the season, and is now tied for the team-lead with striker Darren Mattocks. Morales and Kekuta Manneh are also tied for the team-lead in goals with three.
It’s been an encouraging stretch for the young ‘Caps, who have outshot their opponents by a 63-27 margin in their last three MLS outings. In fact, Whitecaps FC are averaging 14.82 shots per game this season, which is second to only LA Galaxy.
Also of note, only three teams in the league are averaging more points per game than Vancouver (1.55 points per game), who enter Sunday’s contest fifth in the Western Conference.
Two ‘Caps defenders won’t be available this weekend due to international duty. World Cup hopeful Steven Beitashour is away with the Iranian men’s national team, while centre back Carlyle Mitchell has joined Trinidad and Tobago’s camp in Port of Spain.
Mattocks, meanwhile, is expected to rejoin the 'Caps in Portland after a week-long stint with the Jamaican senior men’s national team. After suffering a left hamstring strain on May 3 against San Jose Earthquakes, the Portmore, Jamaica native missed Vancouver’s last two MLS matches – though he dressed last weekend against Seattle.
Highlights: Chivas USA 0-2 Portland Timbers
After going winless in their first eight matches of the season, the Timbers have now won two in a row and are unbeaten in six. Their most recent outing was a 2-0 road win over Chivas USA earlier this week.
Nigerian striker Fanendo Adi, who recently joined the Timbers on loan from FC Copenhagen, scored both of Portland’s goals. He now has two goals and an assist in his first three MLS appearances.
Timbers head coach Caleb Porter opted not to start star midfielders Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe in their mid-week tilt at Chivas USA, meaning they will likely be called upon from the get-go this weekend.
Both players came on as second-half substitutes on Wednesday and made an immediate impact. Nagbe, who has drawn more fouls than any player in all of MLS this season, was awarded an assist on Adi’s first goal and Valeri picked up a helper on his second. Valeri now has four assists in his last five appearances.
Holding midfielder Diego Chara, who missed two matches with a broken hand, also made his return to the lineup on Wednesday. Chara has 52 tackles this season, which is second to only Whitecaps FC midfielder Matias Laba (58 tackles).
The Timbers enter Sunday’s contest just one-point shy of fifth-place Whitecaps FC, though the ‘Caps have two games in hand.
Over the years, the ‘Caps and Timbers have met 76 times in official competitions – Vancouver has the edge with a 33W-28L-15D overall record.
Vancouver has yet to beat Portland in MLS play, but the Cascadia rivals drew each of their three meetings last season. The two teams also played to a 1-1 draw in a 2014 preseason encounter – Sebastian Fernandez erased an early Will Johnson marker to help Vancouver finish the Rose City Invitational with a tournament-best 2W-0L-1D record.
Vancouver’s final match before the MLS-mandated World Cup break will take place on Saturday, June 7 against Philadelphia Union. The Blue and White aren’t back at BC Place until June 25, when they host longtime Canadian rival Montreal Impact. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including prorated season tickets ($220), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.