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Preview: Desperate for spark, Timbers host rival 'Caps

PORTLAND TIMBERS vs VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
JELD-WEN FIELD, Portland, Ore.
August 25, 2012 (WEEK 25, MLS Game #242)
10:30 pm ET / 7:30 pm PT (ROOT-NW; SNET Pac)

The Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps FC meet for the second time this season when the Cascadia Cup rivals face off at JELD-WEN Field on Saturday evening in a game with huge implications for both clubs. The Timbers are coming off a two-game road swing that ended in a 3-2 loss at New York, sitting 16 points out of the final playoff spot with 10 games to play. Whitecaps FC have now dropped back-to-back games, and sit in a tie for that final postseason berth after a 2-0 defeat in Seattle last weekend.

REFEREE: David Gantar. AR1 (bench): Darren Clark; AR2 (opposite): Kevin Duliba; 4th: Drew Fischer
MLS Career: 12 games; FC/gm: 26.7; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 7; pens: 1

DOWNLOAD FULL GAME GUIDE HERE (PDF)

INJURY REPORT: PORTLAND TIMBERS – OUT: DF Chris Taylor (R hip surgery); PROBABLE: MF Kalif Alhassan (L patellar tendinitis); DF Kosuke Kimura (concussion/nose fracture) … VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC – OUT: FW Omar Salgado (R foot fracture); PROBABLE: DF Jay DeMerit (concussion)

INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: POR: Diego Chara (caution accumulation; through Aug. 26) … VAN: Gershon Koffie (through Aug. 26)
WARNINGS:

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: POR: Lovel Palmer … VAN: Jun Marques Davidson, Darren Mattocks
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: POR: Kris Boyd, Jack Jewsbury, Hanyer Mosquera, Steven Smith, Kosuke Kimura … VAN: Jay DeMerit, Alain Rochat, Gershon Koffie

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (3 meetings): Timbers 2 wins, 4 goals … Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 2 goals … Ties 1
AT PORTLAND (2 meetings): Timbers 1 win, 2 goals … Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 1
FUTURE MATCH: 10/21: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Portland Timbers, 7 p.m. (TSN2/RDS2)
• The Cascadia Cup rivals are meeting for the second time this season. Goals from Portland’s Kris Boyd and Vancouver’s Darren Mattocks left the teams in a 1-1 stalemate, June 26 at JELD-WEN Field.
• The Timbers won both meetings of the MLS expansion class of 2011 last year, a 2-1 victory at JELD-WEN Field and a 1-0 triumph at BC Place.
• Coaches record: Gavin Wilkinson v VAN: first game … Martin Rennie vs. POR: P1 W0 L0 D1

LAST MEETING:
5/26: POR 1, VAN 1 (Boyd 67 – Mattocks 84)
• The game had an extended delay during halftime after a thunderstorm moved over the stadium with about 10 minutes left in the first half.
• Both goals then came after the break. In the 67th minute, a cross from fullback Jack Jewsbury was punched out by Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon. But Kris Boyd was right there, and with his back to goal hooked the ball past Cannon from close range for the opener.
• Vancouver leveled the score in the 84th minute when second-half substitute Darren Mattocks chested down Eric Hassli's header in the box, took a pair of touches to get past a defender and fired a right-footed blast past a diving Troy Perkins.
• PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-3-1-2): Troy Perkins - Jack Jewsbury, Hanyer Mosquera, Eric Brunner (David Horst 46), Steven Smith - Kalif Alhassan (Sal Zizzo 79), Diego Chara, Eric Alexander - Darlington Nagbe - Kris Boyd, Jorge Perlaza (Mike Fucito 88).
• VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-3-3): Joe Cannon – Lee Young-Pyo, Jay DeMerit, Martin Bonjour, Alain Rochat – Gershon Koffie (Eric Hassli 72), Jun Marques Davidson, John Thorrington – Camilo (Darren Mattocks 83), Sebastien Le Toux, Davide Chiumiento.

PORTLAND TIMBERS
The Portland Timbers couldn’t hold out for their first road victory, falling 3-2 to the New York Red Bulls on Sunday evening at Red Bull Arena. The Timbers are in ninth place in the Western Conference with 21 points from 24 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: NY 3, POR 2

• The Timbers took the lead after just eight minutes. Set free down the right flank by Kosuke Kimura, Sal Zizzo carried into the area before laying a square pass for Bright Dike to finish in the penalty area.
• The Timbers doubled their lead in the 32nd minute after hitting on a counter attack following a turnover near midfield. A quick passing sequence on the edge of area saw Darlington Nagbe get onto the end of a pass from Zizzo and roll a shot past Gaudette off the inside of the left post.
• New York pulled a goal back 11 minutes later. Kenny Cooper, who came on as a 36th minute substitute, headed home a Jan Gunnar Solli cross from the right flank.
• The Red Bulls then equalized through Tim Cahill just before halftime on a controversial play. Dax McCarty hit a shot that deflected off defender David Horst’s outstretched arms and back to Cahill, who buried the rebound. The goal stood despite claims referee Jason Anno blew his whistle and signaled for a penalty kick before changing his call.
• The Red Bulls hit for the winner seven minutes from the end. After a corner kick was scrambled clear, Solli drove a cross back into the area and Heath Pearce headed home inside the right post for the decisive tally.
• Timbers interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson made two changes to the side that reached a 2-2 draw with Toronto FC at BMO Field. Franck Songo'o came into the midfield for Rodney Wallace, and Bright Dike started up top for Kris Boyd.
• PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Kosuke Kimura (Lovel Palmer 59), Hanyer Mosquera, David Horst, Steven Smith - Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara - Sal Zizzo, Darlington Nagbe, Franck Songo'o (Rodney Wallace 82) - Bright Dike (Mike Fucito 74).

TEAM NEWS
• With the loss ending the two-game Eastern road swing, the Timbers remain the only team in MLS this season without a victory away from home. Four teams have gone winless on the road over a single season, the last being Vancouver in 2011.
• “I think this was possibly our best road performance in a year and a half. We came out, we had numerous chances,” said Portland interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson. “Their ‘keeper came up with three phenomenal saves. We had a good chance at the end there.”
• After ending their 717-minute goalless streak in Toronto at midweek, the Timbers again hit for two goals in a road game – the first two times since coming into MLS the Timbers have scored multiple goals in a road game. Their two-goal lead in New York was the first time the club had held a multiple-goal lead on the road in their MLS history.

WATCH: Wilkinson discusses current state of Timbers

•  “We played better the last few games. I think we haven’t won in a long time,” said Timbers midfielder Franck Songo’o. “Every time we’re close, we’re close, but we don’t win. We take every game as a final so it hurts a lot but you got to try to forget this tomorrow and start focusing on next Saturday.”
• Bright Dike made his first start in MLS competition in New York, netting his second professional goal. His first goal had come one year and two days previous, Aug. 17, 2011 at Sporting Kansas City.
• “I think he tired quite badly in the second half. He kept them honest,” said Wilkinson. “What we were looking to do was get in behind, cause some problems, relieve the pressure in the first 15 and see if we could start to open them up and play. I think we had numerous corners, I think we had numerous chances, and the boys worked extremely hard.”
• Sal Zizzo made his second consecutive start, after not featuring for three consecutive games. In the two games, Zizzo has a goal and two assists.
• “Most of the credit goes to [Zizzo],” Dike said. “He did a really good job of finding me in the box, and I did my best to get a clean touch on it away from where the goalie was.”
• Darlington Nagbe scored for a second consecutive match, just the second time this season a Portland player has netted in back-to-back games (also: Kris Boyd, April 7-14).
• Kosuke Kimura recorded his second assist in eight matches since coming to the Timbers from Colorado, matching his single-season career-high with three assists on the year. But his day was finished just before the hour mark when he suffered a concussion and nose fracture in a knock to the face from New York’s Tim Cahill.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC suffered a second consecutive loss, falling 2-0 to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday afternoon at CenturyLink Field. Whitecaps FC are in a tie for fourth place in the Western Conference with 37 points from 26 games.

LAST MATCH

HIGHLIGHTS: SEA 2, VAN 0

• Sounders FC took the lead midway through the second half. Fredy Montero entered the game in the 61st minute and had an almost immediate impact, scoring the opener just three minutes later. A Mauro Rosales free kick was chested down by Jeff Parke and Montero collected the layoff near the far post, slotting the ball between a pair of defenders.
• Eddie Johnson then put the game away with a goal in the 87th minute. A precise ball over the top from Osvaldo Alonso to Brad Evans started the move, and Evans hit a perfectly placed square pass for Johnson to tap home inside the the far post.
• Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie made four changes to the team that dropped a 2-0 decision to FC Dallas at BC Place. Carlyle Mitchell came into the back four for the suspended Martin Bonjour, and Dane Richards, Gershon Koffie and Darren Mattocks came into the team in place of John Thorrington, Atiba Harris and the suspended Barry Robson.
• VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-4-2): Joe Cannon - Lee Young-Pyo, Andy O'Brien, Carlyle Mitchell, Alain Rochat - Dane Richards, Gershon Koffie, Jun Marques Davidson (John Thorrington 90), Camilo (Russell Teibert 74) - Darren Mattocks (Atiba Harris 90), Kenny Miller.

TEAM NEWS
• Whitecaps FC saw their road losing streak extended to five games. They are winless in six games away from BC Place; the last win outside of Vancouver was July 4 in Colorado.
• “Generally this season we've done very well up until this point. Right now little things aren't going our way, maybe even the goal that they got that I didn't really feel was a free kick then we got punished with a goal against us,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “Those things right now are happening and in a season where that happens, it's really important how you bounce back from that and how you react.”

WATCH: Rennie comments after training

• Whitecaps FC also have suffered back-to-back shutout losses for the first time this season. They were shutout in consecutive games once previously: March 24-31, coming away with a scoreless draw in each match.
• “I think playing three games in the week cost us a bit, near the end we were getting tired. With the number of players missing during the week during international games I thought we just looked a little bit tired,” said Rennie.
• Already missing Martin Bonjour because of suspension, Whitecaps FC also lost midfielder Barry Robson when he was suspended for the match after a decision by the MLS Disciplinary Committee.
• “We’re dealing with a bit of adversity just now,” Rennie said. “Little things like the international call-ups and Barry’s late suspension – things like that – they’re all part of the game. But it’ll be nice for us to get Barry back and Jay back and now we’ve got Andy O’Brien having played more minutes and we’ve got Kenny [Miller] having played more minutes, so it’s exciting going into this next phase of the season.”
• Carlyle Mitchell was deputized to play in central defense with Bonjour suspended and Jay DeMerit still out with a concussion. For Mitchell, it was his first appearance in a league match since May 12, his lone MLS start this season before the Seattle match.
• “It feels good to get on the field after a long time,” Mitchell said. “I learned a lot in the game. It wasn’t the result we wanted, but we’ll learn from our mistakes and prepare for our next game which is a very important game … It’s very difficult to stay focused. At any time you can get called on to play.”
• DeMerit has returned to full training for the first time since suffering a concussion on August 11 in Vancouver’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake.
• “You always want to be out there with your team, especially when we’ve had a few poor results in the past couple games,” DeMerit said. “But ultimately you need to have the end game in sight, probably even more so now as you want to get back out there. We still want to be sensible, but that doesn’t mean we can’t push to go and try to play, because ultimately that’s what we’re here to do.”