“What a game for us to play.”
That’s how Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson described today’s encounter with Portland Timbers at Providence Park – and it’s easy to see why.
Only one point separates the bitter rivals in the hotly contested Western Conference standings. There are still 14 matches remaining, but this will be the last meeting between the two teams.
And did we mention it’s a Cascadia derby?
Match Day: Saturday, July 18
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Providence Park, Portland
Radio: TSN 1410
Whitecaps FC (10W-8L-2D) will be looking to bounce back after suffering two straight defeats at the hands of Colorado Rapids and most recently Sporting Kansas City.
It’s not going to be easy, though.
Centre back Kendall Waston was called up to the Costa Rican national team ahead of this weekend’s Gold Cup quarter-final and will therefore miss Saturday’s match. His centre back partner Pa-Modou Kah (calf) and captain Pedro Morales (calf) may also not be ready in time, though Robinson said that Morales “took a big step” in his road to recovery this week.
“No excuses for us,” Robinson said. “We’ll go there with a young group. We’ll give it our best. Who knows? This game is brilliant. It sometimes causes shocks. There will be a few more players who get another opportunity on Saturday.”
One player who could return to the fold is midfielder Russell Teibert, who is back from Gold Cup duty with Canada. Teibert’s last start was back on June 3 against Montreal Impact.
The ‘Caps are currently in a three-way tie with Seattle Sounders FC and FC Dallas atop the Western Conference standings.
The Timbers (9W-7L-4D) are coming off a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Philadelphia Union, but they’re still one of the hottest teams in Major League Soccer – having lost just one of their last eight matches.
Also of note, Portland have won five straight at home, including four clean sheets.
Like Whitecaps FC, the Timbers could be without some firepower this weekend, including Darlington Nagbe, Diego Chara, and Maximiliano Urruti. However, it looks like they’ll have Alvas Powell back – it was reported this week that the right back had left the Jamaican national team ahead of this weekend’s Gold Cup quarter-finals.
This will be the third and final meeting between Vancouver and Portland this season.
Whitecaps FC came away with a win and draw in the first two fixtures, even though they weren’t necessarily at their best in either match. Most recently, the two teams played to a scoreless draw on May 2 at Providence Park.
It’s a ‘Caps-Timbers doubleheader this weekend, as an in-form WFC2 side visit Timbers 2 on Sunday at 7 p.m. Watch the match live at whitecapsfc2.com.