Vancouver Whitecaps vs Portland Timbers | MLS Match Preview

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC vs PORTLAND TIMBERS
BC PLACE, Vancouver, B.C.
Aug. 30, 2014 (WEEK 25, MLS Game #238)
7:30 p.m. PT (TSN; KPDX)

Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Portland Timbers renew their Cascadia Cup rivalry in an vitally crucial match when the clubs meet Saturday evening at BC Place. The teams come into the match separated by just two points in the table, Whitecaps FC holding the fifth and final playoff position ahead of the Timbers. Vancouver returns home following a 2-0 loss at the LA Galaxy last week, while Portland hit the road coming off a 4-2 home loss against Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders FC last Sunday.

REFEREE: Armando Villarreal. AR1 (bench): Baboucarr Jallow; AR2 (opposite): Mike Kampmeinert; 4th: Drew Fischer
MLS Career: 40 games; FC/gm: 23.2; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 15; pens: 10

SUSPENDED: VAN: Johnny Leveron (through Aug. 31) … POR: Norbetto Paparatto (through Aug. 31)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: VAN: Jordan Harvey, Mauro Rosales … POR: Pa Modou Kah
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: VAN: Gershon Koffie, Sebastian Fernandez, Andy O’Brien, Pedro Morales … POR: Norbetto Paparatto, Will Johnson, Diego Chara, Diego Valeri
DISABLED LIST: VAN: Caleb Clarke (season-ending injury)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (9 meetings): Whitecaps FC 1 wins, 12 goals … Timbers 4 wins, 15 goals … Ties 4
AT VANCOUVER (4 meetings): Whitecaps FC 0 wins, 4 goals … Timbers 2 wins, 6 goals … Ties 2
FUTURE MATCH: 9/20: Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 2 p.m. PT

2014 (MLS)
6/1: POR 3, VAN 4 (Urruti 3; Fernandez 77; Johnson 86 – Morales 16, 26; Hurtado 49+; Harvey 49)
• The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Pedro Morales scored twice as Whitecaps FC withstood a second-half charge from the Timbers before taking a 4-3 victory June 1 at Providence Park.
• It was the first victory for Whitecaps FC against the Timbers since the two teams have played in MLS competition. The Timbers had won four of the first eight meetings all-time, including two of the four contests at BC Place.
• Coaches record: Caleb Porter v VAN: P4 W0 L1 T3 … Carl Robinson vs. POR: P1 W1 L0 T0

LAST MEETING (MLS):
• The Timbers took the lead after just three minutes. From the right wing, Diego Valeri crossed to Maximiliano Urruti at the top of the area, and he unleashed a left-footed blast past Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted.
• But the visitors were ahead thanks to two penalty kicks. In the 16th minute, Erik Hurtado was tripped up by Diego Chara in front of the box, and referee Kevin Stott immediately whistled for a penalty kick, which was converted by Pedro Morales. Then in the 26th minute, Kekuta Manneh was clipped down by Pa Modou Kah, and Morales again coolly converted the spot kick.
• It was 3-1 for Whitecaps FC in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time when Hurtado collected a Morales cross and fired point-blank on Donovan Ricketts. The big Timbers ‘keeper saved the first attempt, but Hurtado bundled home the rebound from close range. Then it was 4-0 four minutes into the second half when Jordan Harvey let fly a curling left-footed blast after collecting a Morales cross from across the penalty area.
• The Timbers finally pulled a goal back in the 77th minute from a Gaston Fernandez header off a Valeri cross. Then the margin was cut to one with a wonderful goal in the 86th minute, as Fanendo Adi juggled a long ball in the box and popped it over a defender, who scored from an outstanding volley of his own inside the right-hand post, but that was as close as Portland got.
• PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-1-3): Donovan Ricketts - Jack Jewsbury, Rauwshan McKenzie, Pa Modou Kah, Jorge Villafana (Kalif Alhassan 77) - Will Johnson, Diego Chara - Diego Valeri - Darlington Nagbe, Maximiliano Urruti (Gaston Fernandez 66), Steve Zakuani (Fanendo Adi 57).
• VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-2-3-1): David Ousted - Nigel Reo-Coker, Andy O'Brien, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey - Gershon Koffie, Matias Laba - Sebastian Fernandez (Omar Salgado 78), Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh (Russell Teibert 46) - Erik Hurtado (Darren Mattocks 66).

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

Vancouver Whitecaps FC saw their their undefeated and shutout streaks put to an end, falling 2-0 to the LA Galaxy on Saturday evening at StubHub Center. Whitecaps FC sit in fifth place in the Western Conference with 33 points from 24 games.

LAST MATCH

• The Galaxy were in the lead after just four minutes. Robbie Keane ran onto a ball bouncing in the heart of the Whitecaps FC penalty area and half-volleyed a shot that bounded through traffic to the far post, where Landon Donovan stepped up to poke it into the ceiling of the net.

• The lead was doubled just after the half-hour. Donovan sent a ball into the box for Marcelo Sarvas, who back-heeled it to Keane. He set up to shoot, but he nudged the ball too far with his right foot and whiffed when he tried to hit it with his left. The ball slowly rolled past two defenders toward the left, and Sarvas fired under goalkeeper David Ousted and inside the far post.
• Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made three changes to the team that reached a goalless draw with Chivas USA at StubHub Center. Mehdi Ballouchy, Pedro Morales and Kekuta Manneh all came into the team, in place of Matias Laba, Omar Salgado and Nicolas Mezquida.
• VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC (4-3-1-2): David Ousted - Steven Beitashour, Johnny Leveron (ejected 89), Andy O'Brien, Jordan Harvey - Sebastian Fernandez (Mauro Rosales 46), Russell Teibert, Mehdi Ballouchy (Erik Hurtado 66) - Pedro Morales - Kekuta Manneh (Kendall Waston 79), Darren Mattocks.

TEAM NEWS

• Whitecaps FC saw their six-game undefeated streak come to an end, shut out at the attacking end for a third time in four games in the loss at the LA Galaxy.
• “We haven't scored in three of the [last] four games and we need to go back to the drawing board. You don't turn into a good team overnight and you don't turn into a bad team overnight, so we just need to get back to work,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson.
• Just more than 48 hours after arriving from Chivas USA in a trade, Mauro Rosales made his Whitecaps FC debut, coming at halftime into the midfield.
• “I thought he was excellent. I thought he brought a level of calmness, creativity to us. Position wise, I think he is good,” Robinson said. “He links up with Pedro [Morales] really well. He brings something different to the table. I’m excited to see him next week.”
• Said Rosales: “We need to learn from each other. We need to know each other much better. Obviously, when you are in the league you need to learn how to play with the team that you have already faced in the past. It is easy for me to adapt quickly to the team, and I’m sure that we can do it.”
• Ostensibly signed as a center back, Costa Rican international Kendall Waston made his Whitecaps FC debut, coming on for the final 11 minutes – as a center forward.
• “I don’t think that is going to be a regular occurrence, but you might [see that]. It gives us a good option,” Robinson said. “ … He was good. I wanted to give him some time because he has trained really well. I look forward to seeing him play.”
• Said Waston: “It wasn’t a different thing for me because back home in Costa Rica when we were losing and we needed to win, the coach always tried to put me in as a forward. Over there, I scored some goals so it’s not anything strange.”
• With Matias Laba suspended, Mehdi Ballouchy made his second start of the season, his first since July 19, in a midfield that also featured Russell Teibert in a deep-lying holding role instead of his usual position on the wing, as Gershon Koffie missed his second consecutive game.
• “I thought Mehdi [Ballouchy] was fantastic for 45 minutes. Breaking up the play, I thought Russell [Teibert] did really well,” Robinson said. “We miss [Laba and Koffie]. If I said we didn’t, we will be lying. I think they’ve been arguably two of our best players this season. The strengths that they bring to the table were thoroughly missed.”
• The game against Portland starts a three-game homestand at BC Place, with two games against Western Conference opposition behind the ‘Caps in the standings.
• “Obviously we want to be at the top of the table, so does every team, but we're right in the mix in contention for the playoffs,” Robinson said. “We've got a fantastic game ahead on Saturday against Portland Timbers, who are also right in the mix, and it's a challenge for us. Players want to play in big games, coaches want to manage big games, and we're going to have ten big games.”

PORTLAND TIMBERS

The Portland Timbers had their brief two-game unbeaten run come to an end, falling 4-2 to Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday afternoon at Providence Park. The Timbers are in sixth place in the Western Conference with 31 points from 25 games.

LAST MATCH

• Sounders FC were ahead after just the 18th minute. A 14-pass sequence set up Brad Evans on the right wing, who flew past a Timbers defender  and rolled an unchallenged cross to a charging Obafemi Martins for an easy tap-in goal.
• Seattle doubled their lead in the 34th minute on a perfectly-executed counter attack off a Portland corner kick. Martins came away with the clearance, drove through the center of the park and fed a charging Clint Dempsey for a cool finish underneath onrushing Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
• Barrett made it 3-0 on a 70th-minute blast through Ricketts’ gloves from the left wing on a feed from Dempsey from the center of the box. Fanendo Adi pulled a goal back just three minutes later when he got on the end of a long Rodney Wallace cross and poked it past Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei.
• But before the Timbers could settle, Sounders FC found the back of the net again on a bullish run from Martins and authoritative finish past Ricketts. Adi hit for his second in stoppage time, striking home a Steve Zakuani pass in the area, for the final scoreline.
• Timbers head coach Caleb Porter made two changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Gaston Fernandez and Maximiliano Urruti came into the team, in place of Rodney Wallace and Fanendo Adi.
• PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-3-1): Donovan Ricketts - Danny O'Rourke, Norberto Paparatto, Liam Ridgewell, Michael Harrington - Will Johnson, Diego Chara - Diego Valeri, Gaston Fernandez (Rodney Wallace 67), Darlington Nagbe (Steve Zakuani 80) - Maximiliano Urruti (Fanendo Adi 71).

TEAM NEWS

• The Timbers have conceded a season-high four goals on three occasions – and all have come on their own Providence Park ground against Cascadia opponents (April 5 vs. Seattle, June 1 vs. Vancouver, Aug. 24 vs. Seattle).
• “For me, what’s most disappointing in this game is the score line. We’re not used to being in games where we lose 4-2,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. “I have to figure out how to correct what happened today so we can get a better result next Saturday.”
• Said defender Liam Ridgewell:” You come up against two class strikers and a very good team. We’ve got to try and manage that better. The only way we can get better is working on it during the week and making sure we cut them out for next week and the nine remaining games we have left.”
• Fanendo Adi scored a pair of goals for the third time since coming to MLS, netting twice vs. Seattle. All six of Adi’s MLS goals have come when he’s scored multiple goals in a game.
• “It seemed like every chance they got was in the back of the net. We had a ton and somehow couldn’t seem find the frame enough. It was a bit of a strange game,” Porter said. “I don’t think the score is indicative of how the game and flow went, but at the end of the day it comes down to how many you put in the net. They put four in and we didn’t do well enough to deserve the result.”
• Following three consecutive starts, Rodney Wallace came off the substitutes’ bench for the final quarter of the match. He recorded his first assist of the season; his only goal this year came two weeks earlier.
• Steve Zakuani made his third consecutive substitute appearance after missing back-to-back matches. He recorded his third assist, his first since receiving helpers in back-to-back matches May 17-24.
• “You can only tell how good the team is when you’re down and people think that they’re not going to make the playoffs and not going to make the red line. We know we’re a good team and [the Seattle loss is] not going to change that. Have to bounce back next week and make sure we do,” said Ridgewell.
• The Vancouver match is the first of two meetings with Whitecaps FC over the next four weeks. The Timbers have four consecutive teams against Western Conference opposition – with all the teams right around them in the standings (also facing San Jose and Colorado). The Timbers begin the week two points behind Vancouver for the final playoff position.
• “It’s a massive game. It’s looking like it’s going to come down to us, Vancouver, Colorado, maybe San Jose creeps in for that fifth spot. Right now four teams – Salt Lake, LA, Seattle and Dallas – that pack is sort of running away. You never know, one of those four may stumble, but we need points,” Porter said. “Right now, Vancouver is two points ahead of us so it’s a chance to get above them with a result. Even if we had won this game, we would have had to turn around and get a good result against them otherwise we are right back below them again.”