After a disappointing week in Minnesota, the Portland Timbers are back at home where they will stay for their next eleven matches. That long run of home games will kick off with tonight’s Cascadia Cup match against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Taking three points after their fellow Cascadians will be vital for the Timbers as they look to jump start a season that has so far been defined by their season-opening twelve game road trip. If the Timbers can turn things around, they can still write their own story of the season, but each point that slips away from the side — especially now that they have the chance to play at home — risks putting their fates into the hand of all the teams above them on the Western Conference table.
Beating the Whitecaps will be no walk in the park, despite their relative position in the West. Vancouver have show in recent weeks that they have the ability to come in and bunker down, denying their opponents chances and hoping to find a chance of their own as frustration overcomes whatever side they might be facing. Similarly, the Timbers have shown in recent weeks that they will struggle to beat teams that are willing to put defense first, sit back, and make it hard for the likes of Brian Fernandez and Diego Valeri to hit out on the break.
The Whitecaps have not been defensively sound this season with any sort of regularity, but at this point in the year their backs are up against the wall. Mark Dos Santos is running out of time to prove himself as the side’s new skipper, the players are all fighting for their jobs, and from top to bottom the Whitecaps organization is trying to show that — despite what the Vancouver media is saying — they are not destined to be perpetual bottom-dwellers in MLS.
Despite all of the pressure on the Whitecaps, the Timbers have a talent to break them down. However, the side will need to put in a strong performance across the board if they want to crack what will certainly be a solid defensive shell from Vancouver. Valeri, Fernandez, Sebastian Blanco, and Jeremy Ebobisse will need to step up and show that they are able to rise to just such an occasion as they will be seeing plenty more teams take just this approach as the season continues on.
Storylines: “The Whitecaps approach to this game shouldn’t be new to Timbers fans who have been to recent games at Providence Park (excluding the game against the LA Galaxy). Vancouver will come in with the same bunker and counter game plan that the Colorado Rapids and Orlando City ran, and those teams, who both looked inferior on paper, came out of Providence Park with a point.”
And stop by the Rose City Forecast to make your predictions about tonight’s match.
Watch it on: KPDX (FOX)
Where: Providence Park in Portland, OR
When: Saturday, August 10th at 8:00 p.m. PT
Portland Timbers: 9-9-4, 8th place in the Western Conference, lost 1-0 at Minnesota United
Vancouver Whitecaps: 5-11-9, 11th place in the Western Conference, won 2-1 at FC Cincinnati