VANCOUVER, B.C. – Since Martin Rennie took the helm of the Vancouver Whitecaps before the 2012 season, he’s had his team achieving firsts.
First road win, first playoff appearance – both achieved in his first season. Last weekend, the club accomplished a new first – finally scoring a win over the two-time defending champion LA Galaxy.
Still left on the checklist? Winning a game against Cascadia opposition as an MLS team. The 'Caps could finally knock that one off the list on Saturday against the Portland Timbers (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online).
“I think it’s a big motivator – I know it is for me,” Rennie told reporters on Friday at BC Place following a training session when asked about the importance of taking down a regional rival for the first time. “I think these games are really important and they mean a lot to us and a lot to our fans.
“Our fans have been so supportive getting behind us so much and helping us, so we want to definitely put everything into this game and get a good result.”
Once again, the club will be without Designated Player Kenny Miller and playmaker Daigo Kobayashi, missing with a hamstring injury and ankle problem, respectively. Rennie said the pair are likely to be back in full training next week.
The continued absence of those attackers could mean further time on the left wing for Alain Rochat, who played in that role rather than his usual left back position on Wednesday against the Montreal Impact in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship finals.
“Jordan [Harvey] did well at left back and that complemented Alain,” Rennie said of Rochat’s performance in midfield. “He looked dangerous going forward, he kept good possession, and he’s got an eye for goal.
“He’s definitely a talented player, and yeah, I think he could play in that position more often.”
With center back Johnny Leverón missing this match through suspension, the Whitecaps recalled fellow central defender Carlyle Mitchell from his season-long loan at FC Edmonton to provide cover for the expected starting pair of Andy O’Brien and Brad Rusin.
Mitchell is expected to return to Edmonton following the match and can go back and forth between the clubs as often as needed.