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Match Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers

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It’s a short break between matches for both teams, as the Whitecaps play host to a Cascadia rival at BC Place

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

After their midweek triumph in Los Angeles, the Vancouver Whitecaps (8-7-3) look to continue their climb up the table when they renew their Cascadia rivalry with the Portland Timbers (7-8-6).

Match Information

Where: BC Place, Vancouver, BC

When: Sunday, July 23rd at 3:30 pm PST

How: TSN1, TSN3, TSN4, TSN5 (TV); TSN 1040 (Radio); MLS Live (Internet)

Going into Sunday’s match, the Whitecaps have had a relatively strong form as of late, netting points in five of their last 6 matches, with a record of 3-1-2, and an overall record that presently places them at fourth in the Western Conference standings.

Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers currently sit just behind the Whitecaps in fifth place, but appear to be trending negatively, not having won a match since a June 10th home defeat of FC Dallas.

In their last head-to-head, on April 22nd, the Timbers prevailed at home 2-1, behind goals from Nagbe and Mattocks, while Montero tallied for the Whitecaps. However, this will be their first match in Vancouver since clinching 2016’s Cascadia Cup.

Speaking of which, the cup’s current standings are as follows:

Cascadia Cup Standings as of July 22, 2017

TEAM Pts W L D GF GA GD
TEAM Pts W L D GF GA GD
Seattle Sounders FC 4 1 1 1 4 4 0
Portland Timbers 4 1 1 1 4 4 0
Vancouver Whitecaps 3 1 1 0 3 3 0

Vancouver are yet to eclipse the halfway mark in the competition, so that one-point gap the team will have to make up is nearly meaningless. A win on Sunday will simultaneously leap frog the Whitecaps to the top of the table while maintaining a one-game advantage over the Timbers.

Who’s Available?

While the Whitecaps currently have no suspended players, the Timbers will undoubtedly be missing Fanendo Adi and Victor Arboleda on Sunday. Both players picked up straight red cards in Wednesday’s home town flop against Real Salt Lake.

If you have a taste for the egregious, take a look at both fouls:

All told, there were 10 cards(!) handed out in that match, so it was unquestionably a feisty affair. And Diego Chara wasn’t even playing!

Often the thorn in the Whitecaps’ side, Chara has been out since a late June match against Seattle. He was expected to miss four weeks, and was listed as Questionable for last Wednesday, so it’s possible the midfielder may make an appearance on Sunday. Otherwise, defenders Liam Ridgewell (quad) and Amobi Okugo (knee) are out indefinitely, as well as Chance Myers (foot) who returned from injury on Wednesday only to be injured again, while Vytas Andriuskevicius (calf) will most likely remain unavailable.

Suffice to say, Portland’s defense will be thin.

One last injury of note: Jack Barmby‘s name still appears on the MLS Injury Report, but it did so prior to him scoring against Salt Lake. There’s no press releases that I can find suggesting he’s still hurt, so we may see him in Vancouver on Sunday.

By comparison, the Whitecaps appear to have recovered from their numerous injury woes, having only Brett Levis (knee) and David Edgar (knee) remaining on their injury list.

As for the teams’ respective Gold Cup attendees...

Kendall Waston remains with the Costa Rican national side. After Canada’s knockout, Alphonso Davies, Marcel de Jong and Russell Teibert would technically be available, but each played 82, 90, and 90 minutes respectively in their loss to Jamaica, so it stands to reason they’ll get the night off.

As for the Timbers, David Guzman, Darlington Nagbe, Darren Mattocks, Alvas Powell all remain at the Gold Cup as their respective teams all qualified for the Semi-Finals.

Who’s Worth Watching?

For Portland, I’m going with Jake Gleeson. After having conceded four goals in the midweek match (admittedly, two came after his side went down a man), I’m sure the New Zealand international is wanting for a bounce-back effort. But with the Timbers’ backline as thin as it is, Vancouver’s attackers better be smelling the blood in the water.

On the back of his strong performance in Los Angeles, I want to see if Tony Tchani can make it two in a row. I fully believe he’s capable of matches as thorough and resolute as the one he had against the Galaxy, but it will be all the more impressive if he makes it habitual rather than occasional.

Who’s Going to Win?

Portland has so much going against them in this match, what with the assortment of missing players and the midweek morale crushing, that this has the potential for a browbeating by the Whitecaps. Sounds like the makings for a trap match, doesn’t it?

Travel won’t be as big an issue for the Timbers, as anyone who’s watched Portland play in BC Place knows that, by now, the Timbers Army has assuredly invaded downtown Vancouver. Combine this with how all Cascadia teams know how to rise to the occasion, in spite of current form (for Portland, 0 wins in their last 6 matches), Sunday’s match will still be as competitive as it gets.

But with all due credit to Portland and the Timbers Army, I don’t think sheer determination will be enough to carry the team beyond their injured defensive core. I’m calling for a 3-1 Whitecaps victory, with goals from Cristian Techera, Brek Shea, and a thumping header from Tim Parker!

Potential Lineups:

Vancouver Whitecaps - Ousted; Nerwinski, Jacobson, Parker, Harvey; Laba, Tchani; Shea, Reyna, Bolanos; Montero.

Portland Timbers - Gleeson; Farfan, Mabiala, Miller, Valentin; Zemanski, Olum; Asprilla, Valeri, Blanco; Ebobisse.

Officials:

Referee: Chris Penso; AR1: Cameron Blanchard; AR2 Ian Anderson; 4th: Baboucarr Jallow.