Three storylines  -Portland

VANCOUVER, BC – The tough games keep on coming for Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday as they head down the I-5 for a Cascadia clash against Portland Timbers. Here are three storylines to get you set for the match. 


KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. PT  TV: TSN1/3/4/5  RADIO: TSN 1410 


CASCADIA CLASH

This Saturday’s clash with Timbers won’t just have a bearing on the Western Conference – the teams are separated by just a single point in the standings – it will also impact on their position in this year’s Cascadia Cup running.


In short, it’s a big match.


“It’s a big game in a lot of different ways,” Russell Teibert told reporters after training on Thursday. “Cascadia match, playoff hunt already, rivalry, our fans travelling down to Portland; I can’t wait to just be there.”


The good news for those #CapsOnTour who will be there with Rusty on Saturday is that the ‘Caps have been particularly bad houseguests when it comes to visiting Providence Park. The ‘Caps have come away with points in three of their last four encounters in Portland, the most recent of which came during the hard-fought 0-0 draw back on May 2. 


TIM PARKER

With Kendall Waston’s Gold Cup call-up and Pa-Modou Kah’s continued recovery from a calf injury, the squad’s depth will be tested to the limit when the ‘Caps make the short trip down the I-5 to Providence Park. But while the team may be "banged up," that’s not something the coach is focusing on.


“No excuses for us,” is what Robbo said after Tuesday’s open practice at Swangard Stadium. “We’ll go there with a young group. We’ll give it our best … there will be a few more players who get another opportunity on Saturday.”


One of those players is sure to be centre back Tim Parker, who impressed during only his fifth MLS appearance last weekend against Sporting Kansas City.


“I thought he was excellent, I really did,” Robbo said of the rookie.  “His mentality is absolutely fantastic for a young player … he’s calm, he’s got an old head on young shoulders and he did himself a lot of good. Timmy will be right in the mix for this weekend.”


GIVING YOUTH A CHANCE

Should Parker keep his spot in the starting XI this weekend, the chances are he will be lining up alongside an equally youthful centre back partner in the form of either Diego Rodriguez or Christian Dean.


The average age between Dean, Parker and Rodriguez is just 22.66 years old, a figure that’s almost unheard of when it comes to MLS defences. It’s not something, however, that Robbo is going to lose any sleep over.


“We’re young anyway,” the boss told reporters after training on Thursday. “We’re the youngest team in Major League Soccer and we’re happy to be that because we’re trying to build and develop something here while continuing to be successful.”


Some critics will point to a lack of MLS experience should the likes of Parker and Dean line up together, but that’s not something that’s affecting the players themselves.


“Yeah, we lack experience, but I think we make up for it in athletic ability,” Christian Dean told the media this week. “He (Parker) showed that he can play and I believe I can play, as well.”


One thing that should stand the duo in good stead should they pay together on Saturday is the understanding they have developed playing in USL earlier on this year.


“I’m hoping it would mean a lot if I decide to go that way,” Robbo said of the duo. “They both get on great off the field and they’re both fantastic young talents.  Sometimes you find out about your youngsters when you just throw them in, so if I decide to go that route – if Pa’s not ready or Diego’s not ready – then we’ll see what they’ve got.” 

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