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Match Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Portland Timbers-Decision Day

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MLS: Portland Timbers at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver Whitecaps vs Portland Timbers (22/10/17)

Kick off: 1 pm

T.V: TSN1

Radio: TSN 1040

It all comes down to this. The winner of this match will get a first round bye for the MLS playoffs. The loser will have to go to a play in game with a tired team and the psychological burden of knowing they could have made it easier for themselves. Of course it could also be a boring 0-0 draw in which case the Whitecaps will get the first round bye. Or it may not even matter if the Colorado Rapids beat the Seattle Sounders, but that’s unlikely to happen and makes things sound a lot less dramatic.

Of course there’s also the matter of the Cascadia Cup.

The Whitecaps have been a bit hit and miss since the end of September. The ‘Caps are 2-1-2 in their last five matches. These games include two embarrassing 3-0 defeats to New York Red Bulls and the Seattle Sounders, and a win against Sporting Kansas City that was nothing short of a miracle. The ‘Caps last match was a 1-1 tie with the San Jose Earthquakes. The ‘Caps had a number of chances that they couldn’t convert and must be kicking themselves that they couldn’t get the win to clinch the western conference title. But the ‘Caps attention must now turn to getting a result in Portland, a place they haven’t had much success in during the MLS era. The Timbers will be high on confidence coming off a 4-0 thrashing of D.C United. This will be a huge test of the ‘Caps mental toughness and desire to win. If they manage to pull it off then I for one will feel a lot better about their chances in the playoffs.

The Portland Timbers play a classic 4-2-3-1. David Guzman and Diego Chara play in front of the defence with Chara getting forward a little more often. Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, and Darlington Nagbe provide creativity behind a target man, Fernendo Adi. This has been hugely effective as the Timbers have scored a western conference leading 58 goals this season. Defensively they’ve not been as impressive, conceding 49, though that’s only 2 more then the ‘Caps.

It will be interesting to see the matchup between Adi and Kendall Waston. The battle between the two big men will be a key matchup. Adi is listed as Questionable on the MLS website but with the importance of this game I suspect he plays. If not then Darren Mattocks likely plays up front and the key for the ‘Caps will be to make sure he doesn’t get in behind. The role of the Defensive Midfielders will also be important as the Timbers have a lot of talent across the attacking midfield line. If Tony Tchani or Aly Ghezal has an off match then that could sink the ‘Caps. The best chance the ‘Caps have is probably to soak up the pressure and to hit the Timbers on the counter. The result of this type of play is that the first goal in this match is going to be hugely important.

Injuries:

Vancouver:

OUT: D - David Edgar (PCL, MCL tear)

OUT: M - Matias Laba (torn ACL 8/12, out for season)

Portland:

OUT: D - Gbenga Arokoyo (Achilles tear, out for season) -

OUT: D - Chance Myers (ankle injury)

QUESTIONABLE: F - Fanendo Adi (hamstring injury)

Projected Lineups:

Vancouver: Marinovic; Nerwinski, Waston, Parker, De Jong; Ghezal, Tchani; Shea, Reyna, Techera; Montero

Portland: Attinella; Powell, Ridgewell, Mabiala, Andriuskevicius; Guzman, Chara; Nagbe, Valeri, Blanco; Adi