(Author’s Note: Due to the short gap between games, this article is intended to serve as both a recap of Sunday and a preview for Wednesday.)
There’s no question about it. The magician still has a few tricks up his sleeve. The only thing more exciting than the energy of a fired up crowd at B.C. Place was the pair of equalizing goals coming two minutes apart courtesy of Camilo late in the second half that has not only kept the Whitecaps playoff hopes alive, (for now) but also put Vancouver’s favorite Brazilian into serious contention for the MLS Golden Boot Award, not to mention a likely shoo-in for Whitecaps Player of the Year.
Camilo was not the only Whitecaps player deserving recognition. Darren Mattocks’ shots early in the first half were impressive, combining good play with Nigel Reo-Coker and Daigo Kobayashi, and Jay DeMerit continued to rebound from his opening-day Achilles injury, showing steady defensive play against the Timbers forward line, shutting down a scoring opportunity in the thirty-ninth minute. Too bad it couldn’t repeat two minutes later, when the Timbers took the lead into halftime.
Unlike past matches I’ve seen this year, the Whitecaps did not seem to shut down and revert into survival mode, (keeping the ball in possession but not creating many good chances to move up field and shoot), instead controlling play through the hour mark, showing good offense and defence, including Camilo’s first shot of the match which did not fool the Timbers netminder, but we all know how that turned out in the end.
In fairness, credit must be given to Donovan Ricketts. Were it not for his performance in net for Portland, preventing shots from Y.P. Lee and Kekuta Manneh (twice), the Whitecaps might have walked away with a win Sunday, instead of settling for the eventual 2-2 draw.
Regardless of the result, no matter how good or poor the team plays, I always like to focus on the positives in any Whitecaps match. I’m an optimist, I admit. I don’t walk around with my head in the clouds though, and I must be honest here. Although Sunday’s performance against Portland was a better showing than I’ve seen in recent weeks, I feel the team is still lacking that extra boost required to snatch the fifth and final playoff spot from Colorado, and with the season winding down to the final three games, I remain concerned about the likelihood of the Whitecaps seeing post-season action. I will not say that it was a terrible showing. But the way the standings are now, Vancouver (11W-11L-9D) sits six points behind Colorado for fifth in the West, and in order to have a real chance, the Whitecaps need to win these last three games in order to move past both the Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes (who coincidentally play each other on Wednesday. Best result hoped for that game is a tie.)
*Overall Record vs. Seattle Sounders FC:
It’s the final Cascadia Cup match for the Whitecaps as they begin their final two-game road trip of the season Wednesday night in ECS territory. Seattle Sounders FC (15W-9L-6D) stands atop the Cascadia standings, and are second in the West (third overall). Although the final Cascadia derby of the season is to be played against the Timbers on October 13th, with the current standings the way they are, the Sounders have a serious chance to not only clinch the Cascadia Cup, but overtake both Real Salt Lake and the New York Red Bulls for first in the league with a win Wednesday.
If the Whitecaps manage to come away the victors at CenturyLink Field, they will move into the lead (and undoubtedly be listening for results while playing Colorado next Sunday).
If they lose… well, let’s try not to think too hard on that, shall we?
Current Cascadia Cup Standings:
Seattle Sounders FC: 7
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: 6
Portland Timbers: 4
Wednesday’s match kicks off at 7:00PM Pacific Time. Tune into TSN to watch the match, and as always, the TEAM 1410 radio will air the game, along with all pre and post-game coverage.
*Record is reflective of standings in Major League Soccer only and does not reflect past USL/NASL matches.
Injury Update: Kenny Miller sat out a second straight game Sunday with a strained adductor muscle. It is uncertain whether or not he will be making the trip(s) to Seattle and Colorado.