After two very different 2-2 draws over the past week, the Vancouver Whitecaps dive headlong this Saturday into a crucial Cascadia clash against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park.
Just like NYCFC last weekend, the Portland Timbers are undefeated at home this season with a record of 7-0-3 following a decisive victory over the Philadelphia Union last Saturday. Portland could not be in better form at the moment, undefeated in their last 15 league games, tied for the sixth-longest such streak in MLS history and the longest since the Red Bulls went 18 straight unbeaten from July 2016 to March 2017.
Meanwhile the Whitecaps will surely have mixed emotions from their midweek Canadian Championship draw with Toronto FC. Carl Robison’s quote post-game was quite astute: “Especially in the second half - we showed unbelievable character, unbelievable discipline, and I’m disappointed we only scored one goal when our counterattacking was phenomenal, and then we get a kick in the teeth at the end with an own goal.”
The Whitecaps really did look much better after being a man down and throughly outplayed a Toronto squad (in the second half) that while not having the best of MLS seasons, still has perhaps the best squad depth in MLS.
When: August 11th (8 pm PT)
Where: Providence Park — Portland
How: TSN 1/4, ESPN+, TSN 1410
For Portland, midfielder Eryk Williamson is out with a left thigh injury.
For Vancouver, midfielder Erfain Juarez will be serving the final game of his suspension. Alphonso Davies is out with a groin injury and Doneil Henry is questionable with a right wrist fracture.
#WhitecapsFC’s Doneil Henry has a right wrist fracture, after a post-match punch to a wall. He is sporting a cast. He is still in contention for Portland tomorrow. #MLS #VWFC pic.twitter.com/CYnFmPaapy— Har Journalist (@HarJournalist) August 10, 2018
Who’s Worth Watching?
While we’re all aware of the likes of Diego Valeri and Sebastian Blanco, Alvas Powell’s wingback play has been outstanding so far this season and absolutely crucial to the Timber’s successes. The 24-year-old Jamaican has blistering pace down the wing and is very comfortable setting up shop inside the opposition’s half. Powell displayed his game breaking ability against Minnesota in April, earning himself an MLS goal of the week as well as an assist.
David Guzman is another influential contributor for the Timbers. Guzman completed 64 of his 66 pass attempts last weekend against Philadelphia. His 97.0% passing accuracy is tied for the seventh highest of any player this season and tied for the fourth highest in the club’s MLS history (both min. 60 pass attempts).
Portland Timbers (3-5-2, right to left)
GK: Jeff Attinella — Larrys Mabiala, Lawrence Olum, Julio Cascante — Alvas Powell, Diego Chara, David Guzman, Sebastian Blanco, Zarek Valentin — Diego Valeri, Samuel Armenteros
Vancouver Whitecaps (4-4-2, right to left)
GK: Stefan Marinovic — Sean Franklin, Aly Ghazal, Aaron Maund, Brett Levis — Cristian Techera, Felipe, Russell Teibert, Brek Shea — Nicolas Mezquida, Erik Hurtado
Who’s Going to Win?
If the Whitecaps are truly going all in for the Canadian Championship this season (as it seems they are), we may see another less than full strength squad on Saturday night in Portland. Alphonso Davies is out and Kei Kamara seems unlikely to start, so there’s little doubt that the Whitecaps attacking options will be limited more than normal. This, combined with Portland’s amazing form and home record at the moment, points to a disappointing, albeit not unpredictable, loss for the Whitecaps. Although on the other hand, this could set-up as a “trap game” for the Timbers. We shall see.
Vancouver Whitecaps (1-3) Portland Timbers