Preview: 'Caps return to BC Place to host Portland Timbers in a match with major playoff implications

Setting up Saturday's Cascadia showdown

VANCOUVER, BC – After back-to-back games in California, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7W-5L-12D) return to BC Place on Saturday to host Cascadia rival Portland Timbers (7W-8L-10D) in a "massive game for the organization," said head coach Carl Robinson. Whitecaps FC announced on Thursday that Saturday's match is sold out

Kickoff for Saturday’s match is set for 7:30 p.m. PT. You can watch the match live on TSN1 (more information on TSN's expansion), 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 5:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show immediately following the match.

The ‘Caps, who currently occupy the fifth and final playoff position in the Western Conference, enter Saturday’s match two points up on sixth-place Portland – a win this weekend would increase their cushion to five points heading into the final two months of the season.

A loss, meanwhile, would see Portland leapfrog Whitecaps FC in the Western Conference playoff race, though the ‘Caps do have a game in hand.

“It’s a Cascadia Cup rivalry, we’re close in the standings and there are important points on the line,” said Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted. “It’s an important game, but we can’t afford to go in there and be tight and believe that this is the one that’s going to put is in the playoffs or not. This is another game. It’s an important one and we want to win. But there are 10 games left and we need to perform for 10 games.”

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

Last match: LA Galaxy 2-0 Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The ‘Caps saw their six-match unbeaten streak come to an end last weekend, falling 2-0 to Western Conference powerhouse LA Galaxy at the StubHub Center. The Galaxy followed that up with a 4-1 thumping of Eastern Conference leader D.C. United, affirming their contention for the Supporters' Shield.

Vancouver’s loss to LA was their first in over a month and just their fifth defeat of the season, which is tied with Real Salt Lake for the least amount of losses in MLS.

The loss also snapped Whitecaps FC’s three-match shutout streak. A big part of that run was the play of centre backs Andy O’Brien and Johnny Leveron. The Honduran, who had started 12 straight matches, won’t be available on Saturday as he picked up a red card late against the Galaxy.

With Leveron suspended, Robinson said that newcomer Kendall Waston is “ready and able” to step in and make his first start if called upon, adding that centre back Carlyle Mitchell is also in contention.

Another player who could make his first start and home debut on Saturday is Argentine midfielder Mauro Rosales, who the ‘Caps acquired from Chivas USA last week in a trade for Nigel Reo-Coker. Rosales is all too familiar with the Cascadia rivalry, having played his first three seasons in MLS with Seattle. 

On the injury front, Gershon Koffie is expected to miss his third straight match on Saturday with an ankle injury. However, fellow holding midfielder Matias Laba is set to make his return to the lineup after sitting out Vancouver’s last match due to suspension.

PORTLAND TIMBERS

Last match: Portland Timbers 2-4 Seattle Sounders FC

Speaking of Argentines, the Timbers also have a few to look out for. There’s striker Maximilano Urruti, who leads the team with eight goals, and midfielder Diego Valeri, who has seven goals to go along with a team-high eight assists.

The Timbers haven’t had much trouble scoring this season – their 41 goals are fourth best in MLS. Portland’s biggest challenge has been keeping the ball out of their own net.

No team in the Western Conference has conceded more goals than Portland (43), who are coming off a 4-2 loss to Seattle Sounders FC at Providence Park. They’ve also conceded a league-high nine penalties, including two against the ‘Caps back in April.

Like Whitecaps FC, the Timbers will also be missing a centre back due to suspension this weekend. Argentine Nobertoto Paparatto received a one-match suspension for a “serious foul play” on Seattle’s Chad Marshall.  

HEAD-TO-HEAD

June 1, 2014: Portland Timbers 3-4 Vancouver Whitecaps FC

This will be the second of three meetings between the ‘Caps and Timbers this season. Whitecaps FC came away with a thrilling 4-3 road win in the first meeting back on June 1 at Providence Park – a game that saw Pedro Morales rack up a career-high two goals and two assists.

That was Vancouver’s first-ever win over Portland in MLS. Their all-time record vs. the Timbers in MLS is now 1W-4L-4D.

CASCADIA CUP

Defending champion Whitecaps FC (CC: 2W-0L-1D) currently trail Seattle (CC: 2W-1L-2D) by one point in the 2014 Cascadia Cup standings, though they have a game in hand. Portland (CC:0W-3L-1D) have yet to win a Cascadia derby this season and have been eliminated from contention.

NEXT UP

Saturday’s match kicks off a three-match home stand for Whitecaps FC. They’re back at BC Place next Saturday, September 6 against D.C. United, before hosting San Jose Earthquakes four days later on Wednesday, September 10. Tickets for both matches 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, 5-packs, 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.