So far this season, the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps have not been separated on the scoreboard. A 2-2 draw at BC Place in May was followed by a 1-1 draw at Jeld-Wen Field in August with both sides allowing late goals at home. With the third and final game scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Vancouver, we got back in touch with the good folks at SB Nation's Vancouver blog, 86 Forever. Jon Szekeres answers a few questions about the Timbers' Cascadia rival ahead of Sunday's huge game.
The Whitecaps have won only twice since the last meeting with the Timbers (August 3). What's been the biggest change that has taken Vancouver from being a team in a playoff position to one fighting for points late in the season?
When the 'Caps were rolling, it was because their attacking trio of Russell Teibert, Camilo and Kenny Miller were literally unstoppable. Well, the tide has changed, and the Whitecaps find themselves struggling to score goals. Whether that's because of Miller's injury, Teibert finding his way through his first MLS season as a starter, or Camilo disappearing for large stretches of the final portion of the schedule, this team can't put the ball in the net, and you can't win that way.
How important is the Cascadia Cup to the Whitecaps? Or is the sole focus of the season now on reaching the MLS playoffs, regardless of rivalry games?
I think Martin Rennie will take what he can get at this point. They've already lost out on the Amway Canadian Championship, and the playoffs seem more like a dream than reality at this point, so I think they'd like to walk away with something to brag about this season. Make no mistake about it though; Rennie may very well not be back this season if the 'Caps fail to make the post-season.
Is Kenny Miller likely to play and/or start against Portland on Sunday afternoon? If not, who do you expect will start up top?
Miller seems keen to go, although lineups are always a question mark with Rennie. Miller has said that his groin injury felt much better, and with the Whitecaps needing basically to win out for the rest of the season, if he says he can go, the club will most likely let him play.
Bonus: Expected starting XI
Ousted; Lee, O'Brien, DeMerit, Harvey; Koffie, Hurtado, Reo-Coker; Teibert, Miller, Camilo