'Caps gear up for Portland friendly

By Simon Fudge/whitecapsfc.com Vancouver Whitecaps FC play their ninth and final friendly match of preseason when they host USL First Division rivals Portland Timbers on Friday afternoon. The Burnaby Lake Sports Complex will be the venue for Friday's match, as the defending USL-1 champions look to fine tune their preparations for the 2009 season with a clash against their Pacific Northwest rivals. Teitur Thordarson's side have recorded five wins, two defeats, and a draw during their extended preseason campaign this winter. This includes last Sunday's 4-0 victory over Seattle University Redhawks in Tsawwassen, BC. Now in their 11th week of preseason training, the Whitecaps will be itching for the campaign to begin. Though the season opener at home to Charleston Battery is not until Saturday, April 11, the opportunity to face a fellow USL-1 side is sure to be an intriguing prospect for Thordarson's side, especially those players that are embarking on their first season in the league. "I think playing Portland was the best fixture we could get as our last preparation match before the season starts," Thordarson told whitecapsfc.com. "We don’t get too many opportunities to play teams that are of this quality and from around our region of North America in preseason. Seattle Sounders FC was the other top local side that we faced back in February. I think this will be one of our toughest friendlies that we play, so it's important that we have a good game against Portland. It will be a great test for us." The Blue and White are still without the injured trio of Geordie Lyall, Lyle Martin, and Justin Moose for Friday's match, while Kenold Versailles is also a doubt to face the Timbers, as the Haiti international continues to recover from a knee problem. Good news for the Whitecaps is that centre back Wesley Charles has returned from tending to personal matters in the Republic of Ireland. The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines international has not played since the team's trip to Tanzania last month. The Timbers, meanwhile, have been in preseason training since March 9. Having missed the playoffs after finishing bottom of the USL-1 regular season standings in 2008, head coach Gavin Wilkinson has re-tooled his side with several new signings, including six new additions from MLS. Portland also have former Whitecaps striker Jason McLaughlin in their squad. Friday's friendly versus Portland Timbers at the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex kicks off at 1:00 p.m. PDT. Admission for the preseason match is free. Whitecaps 2009 season tickets are now on sale. Season tickets include all men’s and women's team regular season and playoff home matches at Swangard Stadium, Nutrilite Canadian Championship home matches against Toronto FC and Montreal Impact, as well as priority listing for Vancouver MLS 2011 in BC Place and the proposed Whitecaps Waterfront Stadium. For more information on the 2009 season ticket packages, click here or call 604.669.WAVE (9283).