It’s an all-Cascadia Western Conference Semifinal.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC will kick off their 2015 MLS Cup Playoff run against longtime Pacific Northwest rival Portland Timbers. The two sides met three times in regular season play this season – and once in the preseason.
Let’s take a look back at each of those matches.
FEBRUARY 22: 1-0 WIN AT PROVIDENCE PARK
Highlights: Portland Timbers 0-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Let’s start with the preseason, because – oddly enough – this one felt like a playoff game.
Don’t believe it?
There were 43 fouls, eight cautions, and two ejections (Portland ended the match with nine men). By the end of the match, all four starting centre backs had been shown at least one yellow card.
In the end, Pa-Modou Kah scored the winner for Vancouver in a 1-0 win against his former team.
MARCH 28: 2-1 WIN AT BC PLACE
Highlights: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-1 Portland Timbers
This was an interesting one.
Portland controlled 65.7 per cent of possession, but Vancouver emerged victorious thanks to a 15th-minute Nicolas Mezquida free kick and 90th-minute winner from Robert Earnshaw, who had just stepped onto the pitch minutes prior.
This was Earnshaw’s first match in a Whitecaps FC uniform.
Fanendo Adi provided the scoring for Portland in the 82nd minute. He also had a glorious chance to give Portland the lead moments before Earnshaw’s winner, but Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted made a brilliant stop that proved to be a game-saver.
MAY 2: 0-0 DRAW AT PROVIDENCE PARK
Highlights: Portland Timbers 0-0 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Cagey would probably be the best way to describe this match.
There wasn’t much space out there either way, though Portland’s Darlington Nagbe did hit the post on a 30th-minute penalty kick.
Portland once again controlled about 65 per cent of possession, but Vancouver defended well and limited their opportunities – and they did so without the services of midfield stalwart Matias Laba and right back Steven Beitashour.
Of note, rookie centre back Tim Parker made his MLS debut as a late sub.
JULY 18: 1-1 DRAW AT PROVIDENCE PARK
Highlights: Portland Timbers 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Not many expected Whitecaps FC to get a result on this day, since they were without both of their starting centre backs (Kendall Waston and Pa-Modou Kah) as well as captain Pedro Morales.
But the young ‘Caps got off to a bright start and looked more likely to score early.
Portland actually ended up opening the scoring through Diego Valeri, but Matias Laba – the unlikeliest of heroes – equalized for Vancouver with a long-distance strike in the 57th minute. It was the Argentine’s first goal for Whitecaps FC in an MLS regular season match.
Kickoff for Sunday's match is set for 2 p.m. PT at Providence Park (TSN and TSN 1410 radio). Whitecaps FC will host the decisive second leg on Sunday, November 8 at BC Place (kickoff TBD). Secure your tickets for Vancouver's first-ever MLS home playoff match today.
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