The Vancouver Whitecaps began defense of their Cascadia Cup last Friday evening with a 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders. This Saturday afternoon, the Caps will play their second Cascadia matchup in as many weeks. This time, on the road against the Portland Timbers.
While the Vancouver Whitecaps have gotten off to a rocky start, the Portland Timbers have been on their game. They are leading the league in points and have done so with the most potent offense, scoring 2.3 goals per match. The one ‘major’ blemish on their season so far was their home loss last week to Sporting Kansas City. However, it can’t be viewed too negatively, as KC has only allowed two goals in their six matches this season. If anything, the home shutout will only add to Portland’s fire to win Saturday.
The last time the Whitecaps faced the Timbers in MLS action was last October, to close out the 2016 season. The Caps came away from that match with a 4-1 home victory, knocked Portland out of the playoffs, and secured the Cascadia Cup. More recently, the two faced one another to close out the 2017 preseason and the Timbers showed that they were the far better team, at the time, with a sound drubbing. It is possible that we could see a repeat of that performance, but hopefully the additions to the Caps squad since that time will change the final outcome.
The biggest addition to the squad has been Fredy Montero, who scored two last weekend against his former club. After a slow start, he seems to be up-to-speed and finding ways to create space for himself and/or his teammates. It is nice to have someone at the striker position that can be relied upon to score; a necessity fans have been craving for a while. I am sure that Montero will want to continue his solid play Saturday and make another mark on this season’s Cascadia Cup.
On the opposite side are two potent goal scorers Fanendo Adi and Diego Valeri. Both already have five goals this season and are making the Timbers a dangerous team to play against. However, the Timbers are not a two-man team by any stretch. Their midfield has been bolstered by the addition of Costa Rican, and terrible diver, David Guzman, who will line-up with pest Diego Chara. Ahead of them are newcomer Sebastian Blanco, who took over for Lucas Melano, and USMNT starter Darlington Nagbe. The only, slight, weak point on this squad is in defense. Mountain man Nat Borchers retired while Liam Ridgewell has been injured to start the season. While a fan of their fullbacks, both Powell and Farfan have their critics.
The Vancouver Whitecaps face a tough challenge this Saturday afternoon, that could be even tougher given that many Caps Supporters have boycotted traveling down to the United States. While it may seem pessimistic, I believe a draw in this match should be considered a positive result. Nevertheless, it is Cascadia, and anything can happen. Given the recent good form of the Caps (blizzard match with RSL aside) it is possible that a solid defensive match, while taking advantage of any mistakes on the Timbers side, could result in a Caps victory.
It should be a great match.