VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers just can’t seem to get enough of each other.
Saturday’s match between the long time Northwest rivals was supposed to be their final meeting before heading to MLS. But a 2-2 draw in the final D-2 regular season game at Swangard Stadium means that they’ll meet again in a tantalizing first round matchup.
A rivalry that dates back to 1975 when the two teams played in the old North American Soccer League, will go on in D2 for one more series. Consider it one final battle for bragging rights before the new chapter begins.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game. These matches between us and Portland are always very interesting, very tense,” Whitecaps head coach said Teitur Thordason. “And they’re always quite good games.”
Saturday was no different. A back and forth match with playoff implications and MLS roster sports on the line led to an entertaining affair in front of a standing room only sellout crowd.
One player who stood out for the home side was 20-year-old debutant Kyle Porter. A product of the Whitecaps Residency Program who recently returned from a stint with the youth side of German Club Energie Cottbus, Porter likely earned some more playing time before season’s end.
“Absolutely, there’s no reason why not,” Thordason said. “We’ll see how the training goes.”
Thordason though doesn’t think that the rivalry with the Timbers will affect his team’s mindset going into their final D2 playoffs.
“If you want to win the title then you have to win all of them, no matter who you play," he said.
It would be especially pleasing though, to send their rivals into MLS with a bitter defeat as their lasting memory. With the final regular season ever played at Swangard stadium now over though, Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi has realized that the latest chapter in the team’s long history is coming to a close.
“It’s the end of an era,” said Lenarduzzi. “Whether we win the championship or get eliminated.”