Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8th in West, 10-9-10) vs Portland Timbers (4th in West, 14-11-4)
Location: Providence Park, Portland
Date and Time: October 20th, 10:00 pm EST, 7:00 pm PST
Watching: TSN (in Canada) & MLS Live on ESPN+ (in US)
Following a win that surprised many over the weekend, the Whitecaps turn their attention towards Cascadia neighbors Portland Timbers. With the fight for playoff spots still on the line, it is imperative that the team readies up to play some intense matches before its all over on Nov.7th. It wouldn’t be a showstopping finale without some drama and struggle, and the Timbers are just one giant that needs slaying before reaching the promised land.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the Whitecaps have found an effective identity with Vanni Sartini in charge, turning around their seemingly hopeless season to one where the losses are outnumbered by their wins and draws. Games are coming thick and fast in terms of both league and World Cup Qualifying for a lot of these players, with very little rest time between. As the MLS continues to grow both in size and in quality there will be more players called up for their respective countries, with sixty-seven of which having gone to the October window. This will leave some clubs in a dire situation in this final stretch of games, as do they want to finish off the year strong by gelling the team to play with the subs first and foremost or whether they want to risk the hiccup of having to adjust to different players when decision day comes around.
This is a question asked of both the Whitecaps as well as the Timbers, as each team lost three players last international window, providing some restructuring for their games over the weekend. As things stand, the Whitecaps will most likely lose the same three players when the international break hits in November, ruling key players Maxime Crepeau and Javain Brown out for the Seattle match. Three wins should be enough to get them over the line so it is critical that they get lined up correctly in every match leading up to then.
The lineup that was presented against Sporting Kansas City was effective, and it helped vitalize the team pushing forward. The back three that took the field that day should be the ones starting in those positions going forward, and in terms of who supports them on the flanks, you could do a lot worse than Javain Brown. Bikel coming back into the lineup would be necessary in order to contain the midfield threat that Portland usually brings, and the two striker formation of Brian White and Cristian Dajome doesn’t need any changing. White has transformed himself into a key part of this new look Whitecaps, and the team is lucky that is the case. With Cavallini more than likely being gone on the 7th, White will have to do his best to get revenge on Seattle. For now though, Portland is a solid enough comparison point for him to strut his stuff, and get that goal tally just a little higher.
As much as I would like to believe in the team at the point they are in, I feel like playing away in Providence park on such short notice could prove difficult to a team who’s mostly found success being at home. I see a 2-0 loss in the way of the Whitecaps tonight.
Eighty Six Forever Staff Picks:
Caleb: 3-3 DRAW
Ian: 1-1 DRAW
Andrew: 1-1 DRAW
Sam: 2-2 DRAW