The Vancouver Whitecaps debut at the newly renovated B.C. Place against their expansion cousins and Cascadia rival Portland Timbers. Their last meeting ended up with the Timbers defeating the Caps by a score of 2-1 as the home side scored their goals early with the Caps adding a late one by Camilo. While the Timbers are fighting for the playoffs in their first season, the Caps continue to play the spoiler role and attempt to earn some respect in the MLS.
The Swiss playmaker is in the top five in MLS in assists and normally the way Davide Chiumiento plays has an impact on the Whitecaps success on the pitch. He may start behind Hassli or on one of the wings but will no matter where it will be, he will need to be on top of his game for the club to score.
With Jack Jewsbury out due to suspension the Timbers will look to their young designated player Diego Chara a spark in the middle of the pitch. The Colombian midfielder scored the opening goal against the Whitecaps on a volley and will look for a similar results in this game.
Returning from a suspension, Alain Rochat will be playing with a broken nose but will still be counted on playing a sound defensive game on the backline. After he, along with DeMerit, received criticism from Tom Soehn, Rochat will look to clean up the minor mistakes and help push the team forward in attack.
The Timbers have missed Mamadou Danso on the backline due to injury but the Ghanaian has started in the last three games, lasting for the full 90 minutes. He is solid in his own end and a danger for the opposition in the box on set pieces as he has contributed 2 goals this season.
WHO’S ON FORM
Even if he isn’t playing in his normal position, Camilo has been one of the team’s most consistent performers. He has three goals and two assists in his last six starts and was the only Cap to score in the last matchup with the Timbers.
After struggling through most of the summer Kenny Cooper has scored two goals in his last three games for the Timbers. The team’s first allocation pick is a danger inside the box on set pieces where he uses his size effectively.
9th in Western Conference
Last Game: 3-1 Loss vs Seattle Sounders
6th in Western Conference
Last Game: 2-0 Loss at New York Red Bulls
OUT: FW Atiba Harris (knee), GK Brian Sylvestre (knee), MF Russell Teibert (toe), DF Jonathan Leathers (hamstring)
PROBABLE: MF John Thorrington (groin)
OUT: GK Adin Brown (concussion), DF Kevin Goldthwaite (knee), FW Eddie Johnson (concussion), FW Spencer Thompson (knee)
PROBABLE: DF Mamadou Danso (hamstring), DF David Horst (groin), GK Troy Perkins (hip)
The last thing the Whitecaps want to see this season is the Portand Timbers make the playoff in their first season while Vancouver misses the postseason. They especially don’t want to hand over the three points to their rivals by laying down in their first game at B.C. Place. This is their chance to prove to the MLS world that they are not too far behind in the Timbers and should be considered to have similar quality.
The central pairing of Rochat and DeMerit is reunited after a game off, due to suspension, and will be in front of Joe Cannon. On the left side Jordan Harvey will start while the right side will either have Thorrington or Brovsky with Leather unable to play due to injury. Koffie and Vagenas will patrol the middle of the pitch while Camilo and Chiumiento will most likely start on the wing. Up front the Caps will have Eric Hassli, still stuck on ten goals, pair up with fellow designated player Mustapha Jarju.
If the Whitecaps are looking to win their first match against a Western opponent they will have to follow the same drill that has cost them so many results this season. Strong organization on the backline as well as the ability to service their attackers in the final third, especially their leading goalscorer Eric Hassli, will be the simple keys to get a positive result. Everyone’s eyes in the stadium will be fixed upon Jarju in order to see whether he will be able to open his account with the Whitecaps.
The central midfield is where the Whitecaps will have to control as Portland makes their living though that part of the pitch. Set pieces, including free kicks and corners, will be dangerous for the Whitecaps as the Timbers have the ability to score from these spots with ease this season. However the Whitecaps will be helped in dealing with these two points as Portland’s captain Jack Jewsbury will be missing the match due to suspension. Another suspension that will help Vancouver is the one for Khalif Alhassan who normally would bring speed out wide for the Timbers.
The Whitecaps need their wings to play an integral part of their attack as Camilo and Chiumiento will be counted on to break down the defenders from Oregon. They will need the wings to connect well with both Hassli and Jarju as well as needing the strikers to bury their chances early. Some attack help from the central midfielders will also be helpful, especially Koffie who is developing a dangerous shot from outside the box.
The Caps have lost the Voyageur’s Cup, a chance at making the MLS playoffs and now the Cascadia Cup to the Seattle Sounders. They can regain some of their lost respect by defeating the Timbers and proving themselves superior in head to head matches. A loss at home to Portland will be viewed by most as the lowest point of the season and many will start the process to find out what went wrong this season for the Whitecaps.