Vancouver Whitecaps FC (3-5-2) vs Portland Timbers FC (3-3-3)
Kickoff: 2pm TV: TSN1 Radio: TSN 1040
This match kicks off a busy week for each team before facing each other again on the 22nd at Providence Park in a high anticipated Heineken Rivalry Week game. Vancouver has Chicago at home mid-week and then travel to face TFC at the newly renovated BMO Field, while Portland continues onto Dallas mid-week before returning home to face NYCFC.
Vancouver comes into this match at 3-5-2, after a poor defensive performance at Yankee Stadium allowing NYCFC to notch their first home win of the season. Christian Bolanos scored for the 2nd consecutive game while Octavio Rivero finally struck paydirt this season. I expect to see a starting XI that closely resembled what we saw vs Kansas City, injuries notwithstanding.
Speaking of injuries, Portland are riddled with them right now. No need to go through them all, but it’s headlined by Adam Kwarasey. Jake Gleeson, yes the same Jake Gleeson the Caps didn’t really test during the 2015 Playoffs, almost singlehandedly stole 3 points for the Timbers against former captain Will Johnson and TFC. His performance garnered MLS Player of the Week honours while Diego Valeri was ever present scoring one and setting up Fanendo Adi’s opener.
Vancouver vs Portland. Upper Cascadia vs Lower Cascadia. However you want to spin this, it’s derby week in the Pacific Northwest. The reigning MLS Cup Champs make their first of two trips up the I5 to face the Whitecaps.
Let’s look at what I think will be a few key matchups to watch for:
Rivero (or whoever is up front) vs Ridgewell and Borchers
I’m not an Octavio Rivero fan, however, one goal is just that. I hold Ridgewell and Borchers in pretty high regard, so this will be an excellent test to see how far Octavio has progressed (or regressed). Ridgewell has just returned from injury and will probably need some time to gel with Klute.
Adi vs Waston and Parker
There’s not many forwards in the league who can match up physically with Kendall. Fanendo Adi is one of them. Matias Laba may be asked to provide some additional help but is no physical threat to the Nigerian powerhouse. As for Parker, he may be called into duty with some last ditch tackle attempt should Kendall get pulled out of position, as he sometimes does.
The battle in midfield
This one is intriguing from both sides. Both teams feature very creative Attacking mids (Morales and Valeri), and stalwart holding mids (Laba and Chara). This will be won and lost on the wings.
This match, assuming the Caps are up for it, should be a good mental and physical test to see where exactly they are if they hope to repeat last year's regular season performance.