Starting a new and exciting chapter in the club's long and storied history, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-15L-10D) welcome Pacific Northwest rivals and 2011 MLS expansion cousins Portland Timbers (10W-13L-7D) to First Kick on Bell Pitch downtown at BC Place this Sunday afternoon.
After an eventful, yet brief, spell at Empire Field during this inaugural MLS season, the Blue and White are keen to christen their refurbished new home with a derby victory over their Cascadia Cup rivals this weekend. Sunday's match is the first of four MLS games downtown to wrap up Vancouver's 2011 regular season campaign, with Tom Soehn's squad hosting a Portland side that are looking to keep their MLS Cup Playoff hopes alive in their first season in the league.
Sunday's match between Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers on Bell Pitch downtown at BC Place is set for 1:30 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277). CLICK HERE for more information on individual match tickets for the club's inaugural MLS season.
Whitecaps FC's home match versus Portland Timbers can also be seen live on TSN 2 and Bell mobile devices at 1:30 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the October 2 contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 11:30 a.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 3:30 p.m. PT.
Having come out on the wrong end of their last two Cascadia Cup clashes, Whitecaps FC have been well motivated in training this week. Opening their new home in positive fashion is one factor, but avenging an earlier defeat to the Timbers in Portland and erasing the memories of last Saturday's 3-1 loss at home to Seattle will also play a key role in how Vancouver approach Sunday's big match.
Soehn will be boosted by the availability of versatile defender Alain Rochat. The Canadian-born Swiss international missed last Saturday's loss to Sounders FC through suspension, but he will provide another important option in the 'Caps backline, who face a stern test from Portland's attack. Whitecaps FC's defenders were joined in training this week by Trinidad & Tobago international centre back Carlyle Mitchell. The former Joe Public FC player signed with the 'Caps ahead of the September 15 MLS roster freeze. Another Caribbean player to be involved in training this week was striker Atiba Harris. The St. Kitts & Nevis international was a welcome addition back to the fold after spending around five months on the sidelines with a knee problem. Despite training again, the experienced MLS forward is unlikely to feature against the Timbers.
Whitecaps FC are also without goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre (knee), youngster Russell Teibert (toe laceration), and right fullback Jonathan Leathers (hamstring), while midfielder John Thorrington (groin) is listed as probable.
Sitting just outside the wild card spots for this year's MLS Cup Playoffs, Portland will look at Sunday's visit to Vancouver with great importance, as John Spencer's side aim to defy the odds and make the postseason in their first MLS year. The Oregon-based outfit face a tough regular season run-in, as three of their four remaining matches are away from home. The Timbers' postseason cause was not helped last weekend, as they suffered a 2-0 defeat at fellow playoff chasers New York Red Bulls.
Portland will be without two key players in Vancouver through suspension. Timbers captain Jack Jewsbury will miss Sunday's match after accumulating five yellow cards for the season, while left-sided midfielder Kalif Alhassan will sit out the match after being sent off during last weekend's defeat in New York. Both players have been essential to Portland's goal production this season and will be missed on Sunday. Those absences mean that strikers Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza come into consideration for the City of Roses club, while MLS SuperDraft first-round pick Darlington Nagbe might be a wide midfield option for Spencer. The 'Caps will also need to be aware of talented midfielder Diego Chara, who this week earned a call-up to the Colombian national team for FIFA World Cup qualifying in South America. He is one of five Timbers players to be called up for international duty this week.
The Timbers also have several injury concerns. Goalkeeper Adin Brown (concussion), defender Kevin Goldthwaite (knee), and strikers Eddie Johnson (concussion) and Spencer Thompson (knee) will miss the Vancouver match. Goalkeeper Troy Perkins (hip) and defenders Mamadou Danso (hamstring) and David Horst (groin) are listed as probable.
Sunday's match is the 69th all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and Portland, going back to the 1975 NASL season. Their first MLS meeting went the way of the Timbers in Portland on August 20, as first-half goals by the Colombian pair of Chara and Perlaza helped the City of Roses outfit to a 2-1 victory at JELD-WEN Field, with Camilo replying in the second half for the 'Caps.
Vancouver hold an all-time competitive record of 33 wins, 25 defeats, and 10 draws versus Portland, with Whitecaps FC registering an all-time home record of 23 wins, seven defeats, and three draws versus the Timbers. This included 10 wins and 11 defeats versus Portland in the old NASL between 1975 and 1982, as well as 22 wins, 10 defeats, and eight draws against the Timbers in the old United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) between 2001 and 2009. In the 2010 United States Soccer Federation Division-2 Professional League (USSF D-2) season, Whitecaps FC registered one win, three defeats, and two draws versus the Timbers.
There are also several connections between both squads. At D.C. United in 2007, Jay Nolly backed up Timbers goalkeeper Perkins, while Soehn was United head coach. Portland's Peter Lowry and Vancouver's Thorrington were teammates with Chicago Fire, while Jewsbury and 'Caps defender Leathers were teammates at Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC). Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson and 'Caps centre back Michael Boxall are New Zealand internationals, while Portland defender Danso and Whitecaps FC striker Mustapha Jarju are Gambian internationals. Portland's Nagbe and Vancouver's Michael Nanchoff were teammates at the University of Akron, while the 'Caps pair of Jeb Brovsky and Bilal Duckett played with Timbers striker Bright Dike at the University of Notre Dame.
'CAPS AT BC PLACE
This weekend's derby encounter is also the 41st time that Whitecaps FC have played on Bell Pitch downtown at BC Place in club history. Of the 40 games that the 'Caps/Vancouver 86ers played under the BC Place dome, 30 of those matches were league contests, while an additional 10 friendly games also took place between 1983 and 2007. Their last top-flight contest downtown was over 27 years ago on September 23, 1984, as Vancouver lost 3-1 to eventual league champions Chicago Sting in their North American Soccer League (NASL) playoff semifinal series. However, the club's last competitive match in the stadium was over 16 years ago in the American Professional Soccer League (APSL), as the 86ers defeated New York Centaurs 3-0 on June 27, 1995.
The majority of the club's previous BC Place encounters took place during the NASL seasons of 1983 and 1984. In 31 total matches, the 'Caps registered 23 wins and eight defeats under the dome. In the Canadian Soccer League (CSL) glory days, the 86ers lost three friendly matches downtown in 1991 and 1992. In 1995, the 86ers started their APSL season with five league matches at BC Place, as Swangard Stadium in Burnaby, BC, was undergoing renovations. Carl Valentine's side claimed two wins and three defeats in May and June of that year. The last time that Whitecaps FC played in BC Place was nearly four years ago on November 7, 2007. As a USL-1 club, the 'Caps drew 0-0 with David Beckham and MLS club LA Galaxy in an international friendly.
Heading into Sunday's MLS clash, Whitecaps FC have registered an all-time record of 25W-14L-1D in BC Place.
Sunday's match will wrap up the schedule for this year's Cascadia Cup competition, with Seattle Sounders FC already securing the 2011 title after last weekend's win in Vancouver. This season was the first year that Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle contested the fan-based trophy as MLS clubs. Founded in 2004, the competition was conceived amongst the supporters of all three clubs, who were then members of USL-1. The Cascadia Cup is awarded to the club that has the best head-to-head record in regular season matches between their Pacific Northwest rivals.
Sounders FC are the 2011 winners after registering a 2W-0L-2D record in their four Cascadia Cup matches. The Timbers sit second with four points from three matches played (1W-1L-1D), while Whitecaps FC are third after claiming one point from three games played (0W-2L-1D). This season, Vancouver drew 2-2 at Seattle on June 11 before falling 2-1 at Portland on August 20 and 3-1 at home to Sounders FC on September 24.
Seattle join Whitecaps FC as the two most successful sides in the Cascadia Cup. Vancouver won the trophy in 2004, 2005, and 2008, while Sounders FC won the title as a USL-1 club in 2006 and 2007, and as an MLS outfit in 2011. Portland won the Cascadia Cup in 2009 and 2010 when the trophy was only contested between Whitecaps FC and the Timbers at the North American second division level.
NEXT UP: REAL SALT LAKE
Following this weekend's return match on Bell Pitch downtown at BC Place, Whitecaps FC make a short turnaround to play their rescheduled home game with MLS Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake on Thursday night, October 6, at 6:30 p.m. PT. Individual match tickets start at $20, plus applicable service charges, and are available at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca, and Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).
Whitecaps FC's home match versus Real Salt Lake can also be seen live on Rogers Sportsnet ONE and Bell mobile devices at 6:30 p.m. PT, with a pre-game show beginning at 6 p.m. PT. 'Caps fans can also listen to the October 6 contest live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 4:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 8:30 p.m. PT.
MLS single match tickets are also available for all our 2011 matches on Bell Pitch downtown at BC Place, and range from $20 to $55 (including HST). All tickets are subject to applicable service charges and fees. Fans can purchase these tickets at all Ticketmaster Ticket Centres, online at ticketmaster.ca/whitecaps, or Charge-by-Phone at 1.855.6.GO-CAPS (1.855.646.2277).