Looking to bounce back from a pair of disappointing Western Conference defeats, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-9L-7D) make another trip down Interstate 5 to face Pacific Northwest rivals Portland Timbers (5W-13L-6D) on Saturday evening.
Preparing for their fourth match in this year’s Cascadia Cup competition, Martin Rennie’s side are keen to put a couple of two-goal defeats to FC Dallas and Seattle Sounders FC behind them and claim an important result on this second trip of 2012 to The City of Roses. The Blue and White meet a Timbers side that have endured a very difficult second season in Major League Soccer after a promising expansion year in 2011. Like last weekend, a large number of Whitecaps FC supporters will make their way down to Multnomah County to cheer on the Blue and White on Saturday.
In Vancouver’s first meeting of the season versus Portland on May 26, Whitecaps FC earned a 1-1 away draw. Darren Mattocks cancelled out Timbers striker Kris Boyd’s second-half strike at JELD-WEN Field.
Whitecaps FC versus Portland Timbers from JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Oregon, is set for 7:30 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet ONE, and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 9:30 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
Last week was one that Whitecaps FC will not want to repeat again this season following two tough losses to Dallas and Seattle. With a week to focus in on this latest trip to Portland, Rennie has been afforded valuable training time with his re-tooled squad. The ‘Caps will feel more settled for this Cascadia derby clash, as centre back Martin Bonjour and midfielder Barry Robson are back from suspension and available for selection, while captain Jay DeMerit looks to be clear of concussion symptoms that forced the United States international to miss Vancouver’s last two matches. The former Watford FC defender’s availability will be determined at the end of the week.
The new conference-based schedule always offered the possibility of significant movement in the standings, as rivals face each other in the east and west. While FC Dallas may be five points behind Vancouver and the last Western Conference playoff spot, Whitecaps FC are only five points adrift of second-place Real Salt Lake, going into this weekend’s round of league games. The results that Whitecaps FC can claim in their final eight regular season matches will alter the picture week-to-week in the Western Conference standings, and Rennie will see that as an opportunity for Whitecaps FC to start moving up the standings in a short space of time.
Whitecaps FC will travel to The City of Roses without the services of midfielder Gershon Koffie after he was suspended for Saturday’s match by the MLS Disciplinary Committee this week. The talented Ghanaian was adjudged to have ‘endangered the safety of an opponent’ during second-half stoppage time of last Saturday's defeat in Seattle. Still making good progress, striker Omar Salgado is the other player missing Saturday’s game, as he continues his recovery from the right foot fracture he suffered while on international duty with the USA U-20 squad in Uruguay on June 6.
There has been plenty of change to Portland since Vancouver’s last encounter with the Timbers nearly three months ago. Following high expectations that the Oregon-based outfit would compete for a playoff spot, a disappointing run of results led to the departure of former Scotland international John Spencer as Timbers head coach on July 9. Having coached Portland during their North American second division days, general manager Gavin Wilkinson took interim charge of the Timbers in a bid to turn things around. However, the former New Zealand international has found it a challenge since taking charge, with Wilkinson still searching for his first MLS win as a coach. In fact, the Timbers are winless in their last eight league matches, with their last victory coming at home to San Jose Earthquakes on July 3.
Nonetheless, Portland will be encouraged by the way they played in their last two games - a 2-2 draw at Toronto FC on August 15 and a disappointing 3-2 defeat at New York Red Bulls on August 19, where they had a two-goal lead at Red Bull Arena. Included in those two road games was one of three new faces in goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. The Jamaican international arrived from Montreal Impact in exchange for fellow goalkeeper Troy Perkins earlier this month. New Zealand international Ian Hogg and former Philadelphia Union striker Danny Mwanga were Portland’s other summer acquisitions. The new trio will look forward to playing in front of the passionate ‘Timbers Army’, who will surely be in full voice for this latest derby contest on Saturday.
Portland will be without Colombian midfielder Diego Chara, who is suspended because of caution accumulation, while defender Chris Taylor is sidelined with a hip injury. Defender Kosuke Kimura (concussion/nose fracture) and midfielder Kalif Alhassan (patellar tendinitis) are listed as probable.
Saturday's match is the 72nd all-time meeting between Whitecaps FC and Portland, going back to the 1975 North American Soccer League (NASL) season. Their first MLS meeting went the way of the Timbers in Portland on August 20, 2011, as first-half goals by the Colombian pair of Chara and Jorge Perlaza helped the Oregon-based outfit to a 2-1 victory at JELD-WEN Field. Camilo Sanvezzo replied in the second half for the 'Caps. Their second MLS meeting on October 2, 2011, saw Whitecaps FC play their first match in the newly renovated BC Place. That game also went the way of Portland, as Kenny Cooper’s first-half goal earned the Timbers a 1-0 victory in downtown Vancouver.
Vancouver hold an all-time competitive record of 33 wins, 26 defeats, and 12 draws versus Portland, with Whitecaps FC registering 10 wins, 18 defeats, and nine draws all-time in The City of Roses. 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 nine draws against the Timbers in the old United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) between 2001 and 2009. In the United States Soccer Federation Division-2 Professional League (USSF D-2) season of 2010, Whitecaps FC registered one win, three defeats, and two draws versus Portland.
There are several player connections between these two Pacific Northwest rivals. In 2008, Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Brad Knighton spent time on loan with USL-1 side Portland when he was a member of New England Revolution. Salgado also trained with the Timbers during the USSF D-2 season of 2010, while Timbers midfielder Charles Renken had a short spell with the Whitecaps FC Residency program in the 2009-10 year. Koffie and Timbers counterpart Kalif Alhassan have appeared for their native Ghana at the U-20 international level. The Vancouver pair of Mattocks and Michael Nanchoff are former teammates with Portland’s Darlington Nagbe at the University of Akron, while Whitecaps FC defender Greg Klazura played with Timbers striker Bright Dike at the University of Notre Dame.
As members of the Western Conference, Whitecaps FC and the Timbers will meet once more in the regular season. In what will be their final regular season match of 2012 on Bell Pitch at BC Place, Vancouver will host Portland on Sunday afternoon, October 21.
Saturdayʼs match is also the fifth contest in this yearʼs Cascadia Cup competition, with 2012 being the second season that Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle Sounders FC are contesting 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 the United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1). The Cascadia Cup is awarded to the club that has the best head-to-head record in MLS regular season matches between their Pacific Northwest rivals.
After four matches in this year’s Cascadia Cup, Portland (1W-0L-1D) and Seattle (1W-1L-1D) are tied at the top of the three-club standings on four points. Vancouver sits third at 0W-1L-2D (two points).
Sounders FC won the first all-MLS Cascadia Cup title in 2011 after registering a 2W-0L-2D record to finish top of the three-club standings. The Timbers were second with a 2W-1L-1D record, while Whitecaps FC finished third with 0W-3L-1D record. The ’Caps enter the 2012 season still in search of their first Cascadia Cup match victory as an MLS club.
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.
A RETURN TO SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Following the big weekend clash in Portland, Whitecaps FC will make a fourth visit of the season to The Home Depot Center in Carson, California, for a second road meeting with Western Conference rivals LA Galaxy on Saturday, September 1. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT and can be seen live on TSN2 and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the September 1 match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 9 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow the September 1 match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
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