The Portland Timbers will take to Vancouver this Saturday to take on Cascadian rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps in an effort to retain the Cascadia Cup trophy. But this year's Whitecaps squad is a bit of an enigma. While they managed to beat the LA Galaxy at home last weekend 3-1, they've still managed to struggle consistently throughout the rest of the season.
To help us figure out this Vancouver Whitecaps enigma, I turned to Jonathan Szekeres of SB Nation's Vancouver Whitecaps site Eighty Six Forever.
This is the first time the two teams are meeting this season so, first things first, what's new with the Whitecaps in 2013? Who are the new faces?
It seems like whenever this question is asked, people just really want to hear about Midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. Reo-Coker was the prize acquisiton of the off-season, and he's been as advertised for the Whitecaps. His leadership is unparalleled, and his fast and furious playing style makes him a match changer. Daigo Kobayashi, another off-season get, is fighting injury and might not play, but he's another mid that can do damage, although Kobayashi hasn't been to par with Reo-Coker.
Vancouver has had an up and down season so far, but have recently made an impressive comeback against the likes of the LA Galaxy. What can we expect from this Whitecaps squad?
Good question. I have no freaking clue how the Whitecaps are going to play, because they can be wildly inconsistent. That being said, they're coming off their first ever win versus the Galaxy, and they were able to grind out a scoreless road draw against a very good Montreal Impact team on Wednesday. Two strong performances in a row does not a streak make, but it could be signs of a real turnaround. Bottom line, this club is better than 7th place in the West, but they're going to have to prove to everyone they can climb into the playoff picture.
Which player or players should Timbers fans keep an eye on this Saturday? Where's the damage expected to stem from?
Besides Reo-Coker, fans will probably get the chance to see Canadian midfielder Russell Teibert when these teams clash. Teibert had the wonderful 2 goal match against the Galaxy, and Martin Rennie would be foolish not to let him build on that monumental effort. Beyond Teibert, center back Andy O'Brien has been the quiet, solid defensive leader this club needed when Captain Jay Demerit went down with injury. O'Brien isn't exactly an exciting player to watch, but he's rarely beaten and a true asset to any club.
Predicted starting lineup?
Rennie loves juggling his lineups, so this prediction will probably (most definitely) be wrong, but what the hell, it's almost the long weekend in BC.
Huge thanks to Jonathan for taking time to answer my questions. You can read more about the Vancouver Whitecaps at his site Eighty Six Forever.
What do you think of this Vancouver Whitecaps squad?