With Johnny Leveron suspended, Vancouver Whitecaps could turn to Kendall Waston vs. Portland

VANCOUVER, B.C. – After making his Vancouver Whitecaps debut in Saturday’s 2-0 loss against the LA Galaxy, Kendall Waston looks set to get his first start for his new club in Saturday’s important Cascadia Cup clash at home to the Portland Timbers (10:30 pm ET, MLS Live in US, TSN2 in Canada).

Center back Waston came on for the final 11 minutes of the match at the weekend and played as a striker, but with Johnny Leveron’s suspension following a late red card in the LA game, the Costa Rican international looks like he will be back in the more familiar surroundings of the backline against Portland.

"I think he is ready if we give him the shout," Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson said of Waston at training. "He's ready and able. The first day he come here he wanted to be ready to play. He come on for minutes at the weekend and done very well. Johnny getting suspended obviously opens something up for Kendall or Carlyle [Mitchell]."

While goalkeeper David Ousted knows the loss of the in-form Honduran will be a blow to the backline, he has no doubt that having the 6-foot-5 Waston in front of him will add to the team’s strengths.

"It's always a loss to lose players to red cards, especially one that I don't think was valid," Ousted told reporters. "That said, we have players that need to step up. We have players that need to come into the squad now and step up their game and show that they deserve to be in there.

"You look at Kendall and the way he's playing, he's a strong guy. He's good on one on ones. It's up to the guys that are in there, me, the guys around Kendall to communicate with him and to back him up. If Kendall plays we'll definitely be a strong unit down there."

Ousted will have a key part to play in the communication, as will Waston’s likely center back partner Andy O’Brien. The pair have already shown a good understanding at training and Waston feels that will only get stronger as the week goes on.

"Andy is an awesome guy," Waston said of the veteran O’Brien. "I feel comfortable with anyone because everyone works hard during the week and we know what we have to do in the game and the coaches everyday explain to us the positions that they want in the game.

"The communication every day is going to be better because I have to learn some new words because in Spanish and English are different. The most important thing is the attitude we have on the pitch."

Waston may have only been with the Whitecaps for a couple of weeks but he is already aware of the Cascadian rivalries and the importance of Saturday’s game in relation to the battle for the playoff places in the West.

"I was talking with my teammates about that," Waston said. "It's a final. I know the last time we played against Portland in their house we won, so now they want to win here, but we are training very hard because we want to win and stay in the playoff stance."