Home sweet home.
After trips to Chicago and Orlando, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (2W-1L-0D) return to BC Place this weekend to kick off their defence of the Cascadia Cup against rival Portland Timbers (0W-0L-3D), and look for their third straight win.
Match Day: Saturday, March 28
Kickoff: 5 p.m. PT
Venue: BC Place
TV: TSN 1
Radio: TSN 1410
The ‘Caps enter Saturday’s contest on the heels of back-to-back 1-0 road wins against Chicago Fire and Orlando City SC.
Although the last two games were quite different in terms of the team’s performance, they ended the same way: with late Octavio Rivero winners. The 23-year-old striker now has three goals in his first three MLS matches and is tied for the league lead in scoring.
Should Whitecaps FC come away with three points against the Timbers, it would mark their biggest point haul in the month of March since joining MLS. It won’t come easy though.
Vancouver’s depth will be put to the test this weekend with a number of regulars unavailable. Russell Teibert, Darren Mattocks and Christian Dean are away on international duty, while Kekuta Manneh and Diego Rodriguez have been issued suspensions by the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
“We’re down to the bare bones,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said this week. “The majority of the squad will be used this weekend.”
That includes recently-signed striker Robert Earnshaw, who Robinson confirmed would be in the 18-man gameday roster.
Three matches, three draws.
That’s been the story of the season so far for Vancouver’s Pacific Northwest rival. They have played against some stiff Western Conference competition, however, including defending MLS Cup champion LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, and Sporting Kansas City.
Although Portland has only scored two goals, both off the foot of Nigerian striker Fanendo Adi, they’ve also posted two clean sheets, which is tied for the league lead with Vancouver and three other teams.
It should be noted, however, that the Timbers are without two of their most influential players in midfielders Diego Valeri and Will Johnson, who aren’t expected to return until May.
This weekend, they could also be missing midfielder Jack Jewsbury (concussion symptoms). It was initially reported that right back Alvas Powell would be unavailable as well due to international duty, but Robinson said on Thursday that he expected Powell to be in the lineup.
Although the ‘Caps are back-to-back Cascadia Cup champions, the Timbers have proved to be a tricky foe. Vancouver’s all-time MLS record against Portland is 1W-6L-4D. Their lone win came at Portland’s Providence Park last season, but that was followed by two 3-0 defeats.
More recently, Whitecaps FC came away with a 1-0 road win over Portland last month in preseason action. Former Timbers centre back Pa-Modou Kah scored the game’s only goal in a heated match that saw 43 fouls, eight cautions, and two Timbers players sent off.