Whitecaps Notebook: Timbers rivalry looms large

Wes Knight

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VANCOUVER, B.C. — Family feuds can be nasty affairs.

There’s no censorship. There’s no filtering. It’s raw, it’s real and you can bet when the Vancouver Whitecaps face up against their Cascadia cousins the Portland Timbers in Portland on Saturday (10 pm ET, Fox Soccer), everything will be left on the field.

“[Portland] is a feisty team,” Wes Knight told MLSsoccer.com after training on Thursday. “They’ve got a lot of guys hungry to get minutes — they’ve had some flopping of the roster, like we have — these guys are trying to make statements. I know that when they’re at home they’re tough to beat. [JELD-WEN Field] is a crazy place to play and we’re looking forward to that challenge.”

Knight knows firsthand just how intense the rivalry can be, having played against Portland on a number of occasions while with Vancouver during the USL and USSF-D2 league years.

The teams most recently met in competitive action during the first round of last season’s USSF-D2 playoffs, where the ‘Caps emerged victorious 2-1 on aggregate in a two-leg series.

“This is about bragging rights between [Vancouver, Seattle and Portland],” Knight explained. “The type of statement we gave down in Seattle for the Cascadia Cup tying the game 2-2 and Hassli’s goal — I mean we have to carry that momentum here and take pride in winning silverware. We can treat this as a mini-season and it can be a positive no matter how the rest of the season goes.”

One player who has seen a bit of the Cascadia rivalry from a Seattle perspective is veteran midfielder Peter Vagenas. The Southern California native played for the Sounders for the last two seasons and got a taste for this region’s soccer passion.

“I’ve seen some things that I never thought I would see in this country,” Vagenas said. “I think [the Cascadia rivalry] is something to be cherished. It’s something our league can use to grow, and in terms of MLS, this Pacific Northwest thing they’ve got going is second to none.”

Notes

  • Atiba Harris underwent surgery to remove the meniscus in his right knee on Thursday. The Kittitian striker previously had an operation to repair the meniscus on April 26, at which point the club announced an expected return date of four to six weeks.
  • Twice-capped Canadian international Massih Wassey is on trial with the club. Head coach Tom Soehn will get a chance to look at him in a game situation in Sunday’s reserve match against the Portland Timbers reserves. Wassey played for German 2.Bundesliga side Fortuna Düsseldorf II last season.
  • Defender Alain Rochat is listed as doubtful and spent Thursday’s training doing rehab work as he looks to bounce back from an adductor injury.

Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon