VANCOUVER, BC - Vancouver Whitecaps FC U-23 (0W-1L-1D) will take on Portland Timbers U-23 (0W-0L-0D) in United Soccer League (USL) Player Development League (PDL) regular season play on Thursday, May 15. The match will take place at Providence Park in Portland. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. PT.
The meeting between the two Cascadia club rivals will be the first since the divisional playoffs of last season. That match ended in a 5-4 penalty shoot-out decision for Portland after a 1-1 draw through regulation time. The Timbers went on to advance to the conference final four. Portland would end up losing in the Western Conference finals to Victoria Highlanders FC.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC U-23
On the tail-end of a three game, season-opening road trip, the Blue and White are looking to rebound following a tough finish in a 1-1 draw against Kitsap Pumas on Sunday.
Although the team conceded late, head coach Niall Thompson noted that his team is ready to respond.
“We played well again on Sunday in Kitsap and the boys competed on a higher level than the past week," Thompson told whitecapsfc.com. "The players have kept their heads high after a difficult game. We know that we were unfortunate, but we gained a valuable point on the road. The team has definitely made strides in unity."
Thompson’s thoughts echo those of assistant coach Steve Meadley, who iterated just how quickly the players have come together and learn one way of playing. With several new players on the roster, Meadley is impressed at how quickly they’re picking things up, and thrilled that they’re understanding how to play “the Whitecaps way."
PORTLAND TIMBERS U-23
While this is the PDL season opener for Portland Timbers U-23, that doesn’t mean they haven’t been busy. On Tuesday, the Timbers U-23s took part in the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and were stunned by Arizona United SC at Providence Park.
Portland went into halftime up 2-0 and dominating the pace of the match overall. However, with the clock running out on Arizona in the 84th minute, things changed. the visitors scored two quick goals in the 84th and 88th minutes, and suddenly the match was tied. Then, with the five declared minutes of stoppage time running out, a volley off of a corner was suddenly behind Portland goalkeeper Justin Luthy, and Arizona had completed the improbable comeback.
Coming off a devastating loss like that, Timbers U-23 are also likely to be plenty motivated heading into Thursday's match.
Thompson knows that the 'Caps will be in for a challenge, calling the Timbers “an organized and very competitive side.”
The ‘Caps and Timbers have played each other 11 times in the five seasons since Portland joined the PDL in 2009. Over that span, Whitecaps FC have a record of 1W-7L-2D versus the Timbers,
Following Thursday's match, the ‘Caps finally have a home match as they prepare to take on Victoria Highlanders FC. The two squads’ second meeting of the young season will take place on May 23, 2014 at UBC Thunderbird Stadium. The Highlanders won the first match of the season in dramatic fashion, downing the 'Caps 3-2 after scoring a late goal. The May 23 match, which kicks off at 5 p.m. PT, will decide which BC-based team will be awarded the Juan de Fuca Plate.