Parker, kneeling, black and white - after playoff loss
Bob Frid/Vancouver Whitecaps FC

'Caps set for rematch with Portland after playoff heartbreak: 'They have something we want as a club'

VANCOUVER, BC – Carl Robinson isn’t usually one to hype up any one game over the other, but even he referred to Saturday’s Cascadia derby against rival Portland Timbers as a “massive game” (2 p.m. PT on TSN1 and TSN 1040 radio).

That says something.

This will be the first meeting between the longtime rivals this season. That in itself is usually enough to get people buzzing. Add in the fact that this will be their first meeting since Portland eliminated Vancouver in last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs – and that Portland are the defending MLS Cup champions – and you can understand why this one feels a little bigger than normal.

“They have something we want as a club,” Whitecaps FC defender Tim Parker said this week.

That something, of course, is the MLS Cup.

The Timbers were the first Cascadia team to capture the trophy, which certainly doesn’t make it any easier for the ‘Caps and their fan base. There’s also the fact that Portland and Vancouver both joined MLS in 2011 after a long history that saw them battling each other since 1975.

“You see a Cascadia Cup rival with a championship and you want to do it,” Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted told reporters this week. “You want to go and win that championship to show you can do the same. The defending champs are coming into town and it’s a Cascadia Cup rival so it has that little bit of spark.”

Saturday’s match will be the first of two encounters with Portland this month – the two teams will meet again in Oregon on May 22. Nothing the ‘Caps do this month will avenge last year’s playoff defeat. Let’s make that clear.

But if nothing else, these matches will give Whitecaps FC an opportunity to see how they stack up against the champs about six months after that heartbreaking playoff defeat at BC Place.

Vancouver and Portland have stumbled out of the gates a bit so far this season. Both teams are currently below the red line in the Western Conference. Portland sit in seventh with 12 points, one point above Vancouver with a game in hand.

But it’s a derby game – you can throw all that out the window.

“Whether you’re sitting at the top of the table or the bottom of the table, every time you play Portland it’s a great rivalry,” Robinson said this week. “They’re always exciting games. I don’t know what to expect, and I’m sure they’ll be the same, but we’ve got to be up for a fight.”

That’s something Robinson stressed to the group this week.

Certainly, there are things he wants the team to improve upon – mainly, eliminating the “fundamental errors at wrong times” that have proved costly this season.

But it’s also a matter of playing with that fight and fire that Robinson speaks of.  

“Derby games are not about all the quality in the world, it’s about rolling your sleeves up and it’s about fighting,” he said. “If you do that and come out on top of your battles, the quality then takes care of itself. That’s what we’ve got to get back to.”

2016 CASCADIA CUP STANDINGS

Saturday’s match will be the second Cascadia clash of 2016. Whitecaps FC defeated Seattle Sounders FC 2-1 in the first one at CenturyLink Field. Here are the current standings:

TEAM

POINTS

GP

W

L

D

Vancouver Whitecaps FC

3

1

1

0

0

Portland Timbers

0

0

0

0

0

Seattle Sounders FC

0

1

0

1

0

IN PHOTOS

Relive Vancouver’s heartbreaking playoff defeat to Portland Timbers in the second leg of the 2015 Western Conference Semifinal through these great photos.


A crowd of 27,837 filled the lower bowl at BC Place for Vancouver's first-ever home playoff match in MLS (Bob Frid/Whitecaps FC)


Pedro Morales and Kendall Waston share a moment prior to kickoff (Bob Frid/Whitecaps FC)


After starting like a "house on fire," in the words of Robinson, Kekuta Manneh limps off the field with an ankle injury in the 26th minute (Bob Frid/Whitecaps FC)


Just five minutes later, Fanendo Adi gives Portland the advantage (USA Today Sports Images)


Diego Chara adds an insurance marker in stoppage time (Bob Frid/Whitecaps FC)


Parker: "They have something we want as a club. That rivalry will be built up a little bit. The players and the staff all know that and we want to use that as motivation for Saturday." (Bob Frid/Whitecaps FC)


The look on Cristian Techera's face says it all (Bob Frid/Whitecaps FC)


Former Timber Pa-Modou Kah carries the injured Manneh as the 'Caps thank the fans for creating an atmosphere that was described as "unbelievable" and "epic" (Bob Frid/Whitecaps FC)

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