*Overall Record vs. Portland:
A sellout home crowd is expected to invade B.C. Place full force this Sunday for the final Cascadia Cup match between Vancouver Whitecaps FC (11W-11L-8D) and the Portland Timbers (12W-5L-13D). Sunday also marks the first of two remaining home games in the 2013 MLS season, as well as the last of three Cascadia matches the Whitecaps play at home this season (their final game to be played at CenturyLink Field this coming Wednesday when the Whitecaps visit the Seattle Sounders).
Do or Die
For the past month, emphasis has been put on the necessity for the Whitecaps to pull out all the stops, go the extra mile and stop at nothing to secure a playoff spot at the end of October. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, the urgency for wins (and points) is at an all-time high. The team has only won one out of the last five games, and is entering Sunday’s match coming off a 1-0 loss to Western first place Real Salt Lake, a match that many are calling the worst performance of the year, with coach Martin Rennie even admitting a, quote “terrible performance”.
Since that match, both Whitecaps players and staff have come out stating the determination not to allow a repeat of last Saturday. It is hoped that the team will make good on their words and revert to the powerhouse team that blew Montreal out of the water two weeks ago. Exactly how this can be brought to fruition remains to be seen. Maybe it means another shakeup in the starting eleven, bringing in different substitutes in the second half, keeping the ball in the opponents end of the field; take your pick, there’s plenty of opportunities.
Whatever the decision(s), the need for higher-octane play is urgent. God forbid the Whitecaps should lose this game, with the current Western Conference standings the way they are; a loss will all but eliminate the Whitecaps from playoff contention. Yes, a draw would net a point, but speaking realistically, the only acceptable result to keep the flame alive is a “W.”
Scotsman Kenny Miller missed last week’s game against Real Salt Lake with a groin pull that had limited his training, however there are reports that the Whitecaps Designated Player could return to play on Sunday. Both Miller and Martin Rennie are showing cautious optimism for his chances. Considering this is the second time Miller has injured himself this year, it is worth nothing that the previous time, he was back on the pitch after missing only a single game to rest and recover. Miller hopes this is the case, as he plans to participate in a full team training session on Friday if all goes well.
Current Cascadia Cup Standings:
Seattle Sounders FC: 7
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: 5
Portland Timbers: 3
While the Whitecaps have yet to score a victory over the Timbers, a win would see the team rise to first place in the Cascadia standings. A loss would see Portland edge Vancouver out for second place, below Seattle.
Kickoff goes just after 5:00PM Pacific Time. Sportsnet 360 will air live coverage of the game and the TEAM 1410 radio will cover the match, including all pre-and-post game action.
*Record is reflective of matches since joining Major League Soccer in 2011, does not include previous USL/NASL matches.