The Vancouver Whitecaps take on the Portland Timbers in MLS action on Friday night. Here’s our preview ahead of that one.
It’s a return that’s been years in the making.
For the Vancouver Whitecaps, it’s not as if they’ve gone a particularly long time since they last played the Portland Timbers, their Friday opponents in MLS action this weekend, having done so in their opening game of this 2021 season, but it’ll be the most important game between the two in years, for many reasons.
Amid a tight Western Conference playoff race that sees the Whitecaps currently sit just 1 point back of the Timbers, both sitting on the edge of the playoff line, this game will have massive postseason implications for both sides.
On top of that, though, this game will also be the ‘Caps first Cascadia Cup derby game since 2019, as the unofficial supporters-driven cup competition that the ‘Caps, Timbers and Seattle Sounders contest each year was brought back earlier this summer.
After the pandemic cancelled the 2020 edition of the competition, as the derby matches between the two were either absent or mostly devoid of the support that all 3 teams were known for, with the return of fans in 2021, it made a return of the Cup possible for this year.
It started a bit later on in the season, meaning that the ‘Caps opening day win over the Timbers won’t count, and ditto with a 1-1 draw with the Sounders earlier in the summer (Portland and Seattle also had a game that won’t count, too), but that it’s back in any capacity is exciting, as these derby matches always bring the thunder.
From some of the best goals seen in MLS, to some memorable playoff matchups, villain turns and good games, all played over the backdrop of some of the most passionate support in the league, these derby games never disappoint, and that’ll hopefully be the case on Friday.
And adding to the intrigue of this game? That the ‘Caps are actually in really good form in MLS play heading into this one, riding a 4-game winning streak in as part of a run that has seen them go unbeaten in their last 10 league games, and 12 of their last 13 games, allowing them to push right up the playoff line.
So although a disappointing elimination in the Canadian Championship to the hands of rivals and Canadian Premier League side, Pacific FC, in the first-ever Ferryside Derby sits in the middle of the run, it’s overall been a good run of form from the ‘Caps, who will have plenty of belief in their ability to pick up a result in this one.
Considering that in the fall-out of the Pacific loss, they fired head coach Marc Dos Santos, giving the reins to interim head coach, Vanni Sartini, a move that has appeared to give them a bit of a new life by allowing them to pick up 2 memorable victories despite being quite shorthanded as of late, things are pretty good in Whitecaps land, at least compared to where they were at a couple of months ago.
Because of that, optimism is high for the ‘Caps Heading into this one, where they’re also getting set to play their 4th consecutive home game at BC Place, where they finally returned to a few weeks ago after spending much of the last 1.5 years based in the US.
Yet to lose at home, with their first Cascadia Cup clash of the season coming up, the ‘Caps will look to continue that inspired run in this game.
They might be short a few players for this one again, as regulars Jake Nerwinski, Cristian Gutierrez and Caio Alexandre remain out, while Lucas Cavallini, Maxime Crepeau and Javain Brown will be unlikely to start after being on international duty (although they’ll all likely be on the bench), but that hasn’t stopped the ‘Caps as of late, so they won’t be worried.
Knowing the importance of this game, and what it could mean for their playoff implications, along with the chance to get ahead of the Cascadia Cup race, they’ll be fired up on Friday, and will look to take that energy out on the field when the game kicks off.
BTSVancity Player to Watch: Brian White
Otherwise, a player to keep an eye on for the ‘Caps in this one will be White, who despite snapping a 3-game goal streak in MLS play by failing to score last weekend, still remains in good form, up to 4 goals on the season for Vancouver.
With Cavallini back in the fold after an injury and international duty, White will want to have a big game in this one, showing that he deserves to stay in the lineup despite the return of the ‘Caps DP striker, who has just 3 goals this season, sitting behind White despite the latter’s arrival halfway through the campaign.
But considering that Cavallini hasn’t played with the new ‘Caps DP #10, Ryan Gauld, yet, denying him of a chance to work with the Scottish magician that has played a big part in this ‘Caps resurgence, he’ll want to do that sooner than later, putting pressure on White to step up big in this one, knowing that Cavallini is breathing in his ear again.
Head Coach: Vanni Sartini
Record: 7W-7L-8D (29 PTS)
Head Coach: Gio Savarese
Record: 9W-10L-3D (30 PTS)
Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Portland Timbers, Friday, September 10th, 19:00 PDT, 22:00 EDT (BC Place, Vancouver)