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Storylines: Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps

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The West and Cascadia Cup will be decided...

MLS: Preseason-Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far

The Portland Timbers are coming off a dismantling of D.C. United with a solid 4-0 win. It was a bit tight in the first half, but as forecast the black and red gave up goals in the second half. Sebastian Blanco picked up a brace in the affair, as well as Diego Valeri adding to his goal and assist total and still showing why he should be lifting the Landon Donovan MVP trophy.

It’s all come down to this: Match Day 34.

The Vancouver Whitecaps are looking at the Conference title. The Green and Gold will have something to say about that; not only can the Timbers win the conference, they can also win the Cascadia Cup for the first time since 2012. If they lose, the Fish will be the recipients of the aforementioned Cascadia Cup - something that cannot happen.

The Cup must come home to Portland.

The Tale of Two Keepers

Carl Robinson will have a tough choice to make come Sunday, does David Ousted or Stefan Marinovic start? It’s down to go with your guy or the guy with the hot hand and lately that hand has been Marinovic’s. David Ousted has seen more of the bench than the pitch lately and hasn’t been happy about it, but understands why.

Marinovic came along in July, and up until that point Ousted had only missed one match because he was serving a red card suspension. Since the July arrival, Ousted has seen the bench four times. When Marinovic arrived, Ousted welcomed the challenge to keep his starting job, and apparently it has indeed been a challenge.

Stefan Marinovic is the future #1 in the eyes of the Whitecaps and Ousted’s days are certainly numbered in Vancouver.

Route 1

Vancouver will come into the game looking to play the long ball over the top to either Fredy Montero or Alphonso Davies, depending on what lineup Robinson puts out there. With it being the final match of the regular season, and for all the marbles in the West, I wouldn’t bet on too much rotation from the ‘Caps.

One thing the Whitecaps are bad at is holding the ball. They are currently last in MLS, with a 41.98% possession average. They are more than comfortable sitting back, absorbing pressure, and playing without the ball. They try to hit you on the counter, hopefully with your shorts down around your ankles because their counter doesn’t have a lot of teeth to it.

The Timbers backline has to be careful, as the Whitecaps love to cross the ball into the box, and they’ll try splitting the defense with a ton of through balls. Look for them to go at whoever is Sunday’s right-back. They tend to attack down the right with regularity, so either Powell or Valentin are going to be busy as well. Also look for the attack to at times go right down the middle of the pitch - this is where I’d look to start Guzman and Chara - stop that attack and win the ball.

Honestly after watching a few matches, I find it hard to believe they’ve been in first place at all. They make bad decisions all the time and commit stupid fouls. Kendall Waston might be a beast in central-defense, but he makes some very questionable decisions - including ones that end up as dangerous free kicks or penalties.

The Timbers just need to go right at the defense and force them to make decisions; they may make the right one now and then, but as a whole this is something you can exploit. The Timbers need to also be wary of crosses and corners, as the Whitecaps lead the league in clearances and headed clearances.

You Are My Sunshine

The Whitecaps are pulling the ‘underdog’ card this weekend. Just check out what Carl Robinson said ahead of Sunday’s match up.

“Portland clearly are favourites,” Robinson said in a media scrum following a practice in the driving rain after two off days for the team.

“They won two games, so they can be the favourites. Orlando were the favourites when we went in there, KC were favourites when we went in there, that’s our mentality. I think we’re better as an underdog. When you’re at the top of the table everyone wants to shoot you down.”

- Carl Robison Whitecaps Coach; Source

You know, who cares what they think they are.

The Timbers know they have a job to do: Beat the underdogs, win the conference, and the Cascadia Cup. But if we lose, the Cup goes up I-5 to the fishing village. And we don’t want that do we?

As far as injuries go, this is as healthy as the Timbers have been all season. According to the injury report as of this writing, only Adi is listed as questionable. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not he’ll even make the 18 on Sunday. If he does, does he see minutes? If he doesn’t, do we rule him out of the playoffs? There are a lot of questions but not a lot of answers, yet.

Also, who starts at right back? Powell looked good against D.C., I mean he did score a pretty dope goal, but he’s prone to mental errors on the defensive end. Whereas Valentin doesn’t do much for the offense going forward (I’m of the belief he’s been told to do this), but isn’t as prone to the mistakes on the defensive end. I don’t envy Caleb Porter at all when it comes to putting this eleven together.

Let’s go get three!

Rose City ‘til I die

Poll

Who Starts at Right-Back?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    Powell
    (245 votes)
  • 25%
    Valentin
    (86 votes)
331 votes total Vote Now