Normally we get together with one of our sister sites to learn more about the Vancouver Whitecaps’ upcoming opponents. But this time they didn’t respond to our DM. So instead i’ve asked myself three questions and done my best to answer them.
I seem to vaguely recall that the Portland Timbers were struggling. Is that still the case?
No, not really. Portland have a 3-1-5 record and are outside the playoffs but those three wins came in the last three games. They are on a role. Actually Vancouver and Portland have had very similar seasons. Portland started with a draw against Colorado Rapids (how embarrassing) and then lost four of their first five. Since then they’ve picked up nine points. The Whitecaps also lost four of their first five and then then picked up eight points since. So it’s two teams that started terribly who look like they might be picking up a bit of momentum. It’s kind of a neat storyline. Unfortunately for the Whitecaps the Timbers will be strengthened by new DP Brian Fernández, for whom they paid eight million. This brings us to the next question.
Will Brian Fernández totally destroy the Whitecaps and is this further evidence that the Whitecaps are falling behind the rest of the league in spending?
The answer to both parts of this question is maybe. Fernandez is a talented player who can play anywhere across the forward line. He absolutely tore up Liga MX this past season (and spat at someone) and MLS isn’t as good as Liga MX so one would assume he’d do better here than he did there (though that didn’t happen for Efrain Juarez). It would be fantastic if the Whitecaps would shell out for a player like that. Here’s the thing though; Fernandez was available a year ago for less than a million. If you get your scouting right then you absolutely can find guys of that quality for less than eight million. But you might need to employ more than one full time scout to do that.
Do Portland have any weaknesses that could be exploited?
Yes. Their defence is pretty wack. they’ve conceded the 5th most shots in the league. Now the Whitecaps concede the most shots in the league but a much higher percentage of the shots Portland concedes are inside the eighteen yard box. They’ve also conceded six more goals despite playing one less game. The Whitecaps very much have a chance to keep the offensive breakout they had against Colorado rolling.