The playoffs are now more dream than reality for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to play for. Regional pride will be on the line when they play Cascadia Cup rivals Portland Timbers on Saturday (7 p.m. PT - TSN, TEAM 1410 radio, MLS MatchDay Live).
The Cascadia Cup was established by supporters of Whitecaps FC, the Timbers, and Seattle Sounders F in 2004 when the clubs played in the United Soccer Leagues First Division and is awarded to the club that gets the most points off their regional rivals in league play.
As fate would have it, the last time all three clubs competed for the trophy (2008), Whitecaps FC came out on top. It’s the Timbers, however, who are the reigning Cascadia Cup holders, winning the trophy in each of the last two seasons.
“I’ve seen a couple of Portland’s games,” midfielder Davide Chiumiento told MLSsoccer.com after training this week. “They have a nice stadium and it will be a special game, different from other games. Similar to the Seattle game - for sure a lot of supporters, too, from Vancouver. It will be a tough game. These are the kind of games we need to have the right mentality and show our personality.”
Fans will certainly be hoping for a similar sort of game to the June 11 Sounders FC - Whitecaps FC match. A large contingent of traveling supporters at a packed CenturyLink Field gave the fixture an electric atmosphere. The match, fittingly, ended with a bang with three goals scored in the span of five minutes, including Eric Hassli’s 85th-minute wonder strike which earned a 2-2 draw for the ‘Caps.
When asked if the Timbers’ midweek game against Sporting Kansas City will give Whitecaps FC an advantage after their week off, Chiumiento offered, “In these special games, you don’t feel tired, you give everything.”
According to Whitecaps FC, 500 fans will be making the trip down to Oregon to see Saturday’s match, showing just how important this derby is.
“I think this Northwest quarter - any time you play Seattle or Portland, there’s a lot more at stake than just the game,” head coach Tom Soehn explained. “There’s a big rivalry and it’s a healthy rivalry, which is fantastic. There’s a lot at stake this weekend for bragging rights up in this corner.”
Whitecaps FC have won three Cascadia Cups since the hardware was established, while the Timbers and Sounders have two apiece.
In this edition of the tournament, Sounders FC currently sit atop the table with five points from three matches played, while Whitecaps FC sit at the bottom alongside the Timbers. Vancouver are still very much in the competition, however, as they have two games in hand on table-topping Seattle.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon