Carl's Keys vs. Portland

Carl's Keys to the Game vs. Portland Timbers

Ready to battle

Whitecaps FC vs. Timbers rivalry

Portland come into town on a nine match unbeaten streak. Our ‘Caps are unbeaten at home.

Guess what, none of that matters. When it comes to derby games, you can throw form out the window.

This is the first Cascadia Cup match of the season for us, and we go into it having never beaten Portland since joining MLS. The Timbers will again bring their traveling fans to BC Place, which will make it another electric atmosphere.

The players of both teams know how much a victory means to their fans.

It’s going to be a battle, so we need to be ready to scrap and claw our way to victory.

Midfield domination

Johnson scores vs. Chivas USA

This where the game could be won and lost.

For Portland, Diego Chara and Will Johnson have been the driving forces behind this impressive run the Timbers are on. They are both box-to-box midfielders who protect their back four and take turns going forward to help out the attack.

We also have our own box-to-box midfielders in Nigel Reo-Cocker and Gershon Koffie, and their task will be to win this midfield battle which will enable us to dictate the flow of the game.

We all know what an influence Reo-Cocker has had this season, and Gershon’s game is now rounding back into form.

This will be a fascinating tussle to watch and whoever comes out on top could see their side coming away with a big victory for their club and their fans.

Fast start

Koffie sends 'Caps en route to 4-0 win vs. Chivas USA in 2012

Martin Rennie will most likely again rotate the lineup and look to get some fresh legs into the starting XI.

It’s going to be a tough game, having traveled to Montreal for a big test and Wednesday and now playing our third game this week against a well rested Portland team.

That’s why I feel we need to get off to a strong start, get the crowd really behind us, and carry the momentum throughout the 90 minutes.

We have been very strong at home, including a big victory in our last home game versus LA Galaxy last Saturday.

Getting an early goal, or at least creating some good scoring opportunities, can really get the adrenaline going and make you forget about them tired limbs. I have said many times that we are hard to compete with when we play a high tempo, so I’m hoping we get at them early and often.