VANCOUVER, BC – Whitecaps FC Reserves (3W-2L-3D) follow the first team into battle against Cascadia Cup foes Portland Timbers this weekend as they take on the Timbers Reserves (4W-2L-2D) on Sunday. Kickoff at JELD-WEN Field is scheduled for 2 p.m. PT and you can follow live updates on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
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After a strong start to the season, Whitecaps FC will be hoping to get back on track against Portland after consecutive losses in their last two matches against Real Salt Lake and Richmond Kickers, having remained unbeaten up until those two games.
Last time out, Whitecaps FC succumbed to their first home loss of the season against high flying United Soccer Leagues (USL) PRO side Richmond Kickers. Vancouver conceded an early goal but looked to battle back before Richmond got a second around the hour mark. Kekuta Manneh notched a consolation in added time but it proved too late for Whitecaps FC to stage a comeback as they went down 2-1.
Whitecaps FC assistant coach Carl Robinson, who will be taking charge of the team against Portland, believes it is vital for the team to recover from the two recent losses.
“It’s always important to bounce back from a defeat,” Robinson told whitecapsfc.com. “As a club this year we’ve got into a habit of winning games of football and it’s important that we continue that.”
Manneh, 18, has been a key player for the Reserves this season with the goal against the Kickers his sixth of a productive season in which he has also provided four assists. Tommy Heinemann has been profiting from the young winger’s production, leading the team with ten goals during the campaign.
Suspended first team duo Jun Marques Davidson and Gershon Koffie will be available for the clash along with Whitecaps FC U-23 pair Marlon Ramirez and Ethen Sampson. There may also be action for Whitecaps FC U-18 midfielder Kianz Froese, residency graduate Adam Straith and trialist Damian Batt who are all travelling to Portland as well.
Robinson is relishing the challenge of taking on Vancouver’s Cascadia rivals and getting valuable playing time for some of the squad.
“It’s a huge rivalry and it’s an opportunity for our players who don’t play in the first team to get a good test under their belts,” he said. “It’ll be a good test. The supporters tend to spill over into the reserve games which is great for them but it’s great for us as well because it’ll give it a bit of atmosphere.”
The Timbers recorded a 1-0 win away at San Jose Earthquakes last time out, their first victory since April when they beat the same opponents 2-1. They currently hold a 4W-2L-2D record and sit in second - one place above Whitecaps FC p in the standings thanks to a better points-per-game ratio.
Portland’s goals during both wins over San Jose came from reliable sources. Former 'Caps midfielder Michael Nanchoff bagged a brace in the 2-1 victory and has four goals this season while the 1-0 victory was sealed with a strike from Jose Valencia who leads the team with five goals.
The teams have already met once this season, playing out a 1-1 draw at UBC Thunderbird Stadium back in May. Heinemann scored to put Vancouver ahead early on but Portland grabbed a late equalizer through Sal Zizzo. Neither team could find a winner but there was a red card for the Timbers’ Ben Zemanski at the end of a feisty affair.
Overall, Whitecaps FC hold a 1W-3L-1D record against their Cascadia rivals. In 2011, both teams’ inaugural seasons in the MLS Reserve League, the Timbers took the spoils with late goals in both matches.
In the 2012 MLS Reserve League season, the teams played each other twice with the away side claiming the victory each time.
Portland visited Swangard Stadium in April 2012 and came away with the three points with a 3-0 win before Whitecaps FC got revenge with a 2-1 victory in Portland. Floyd Franks and Darren Mattocks getting the goals.
Whitecaps FC conclude their MLS Reserve League season with another Cascadia clash, this time against Seattle Sounders FC, on August 26. Kickoff at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Washington is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT.