Competition: Major League Soccer – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers
Venue: BC Place – Saturday, May 7 – 17:00 ET (22:00 BST)
Match Odds: Vancouver 13/10 – Draw 12/5 – Portland 2/1
Vancouver have failed to build on an excellent campaign from last term so far and come into the weekend in eighth place in the West, just a point behind Portland in seventh.
The Whitecaps have only won one of their last six and are really struggling to build any momentum at this stage of the season. Last week’s 3-2 loss to NYCFC was their fifth loss of the campaign and things need to improve quickly.
Taking three points from fierce rivals Portland this weekend would give them a major boost but that will be no easy task.
Portland looked to be really struggling until going three games unbeaten, picking up seven points from a possible nine over the last two weeks.
They are still five points off Western Conference leaders Colorado at this stage but Caleb Porter will be delighted that his side are now starting to find some form.
The 2015 MLS Cup Champions have yet to win a game away from home, so doing so against the Whitecaps this weekend would further lift spirits.
These two rivals met in the playoffs last term, with Portland advancing 2-0 on aggregate over two legs. The Timbers won 2-0 at BC Place in the second leg but did lose 2-1 at the same stadium in the only regular season meeting last year.
This will be the season’s second Cascadia Cup clash of the season. Vancouver beat Seattle 2-1 in the first battle of the term and are looking to win the northwest rivalry series for the third time in four years.
Vancouver won’t be able to call on the services of tricky winger Kekuta Manneh as he will serve a one-game suspension handed to him by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Octavio Rivero is a doubt for this one, while Christian Dean and Deybi Flores are definitely out.
Portland will be without three defensive players once again as Alvas Powell, Adam Kwarasey and Andy Thoma all remain injured. However, Liam Ridgewell returned from injury last week, giving Caleb Porter a huge boost. Darren Mattocks will hope to start against his former side in attack.
Vancouver Whitecaps’ last five: L/L/W/D/L
Portland Timbers’ last five: D/L/W/D/W
Key Stat: Vancouver have only won one of their last seven home games against Portland (D2 L4).
Key Player: Diego Valeri – The Timbers playmaker returned from suspension to score the winning goal in last week’s win over Toronto. He can turn a game in a flash with his sublime vision in the final third and will look to hurt a Whitecaps defence that is conceding an average of 1.5 goals per game.
Vancouver Whitecaps 1-1 Portland Timbers – There is little to choose between these two coming into the weekend and another tight game looks to be on the cards. Vancouver are struggling for form but are unbeaten in four at home, while Portland have yet to win away but have picked up form in their last three outings. A low-scoring draw looks likely but that will do little to help either side’s hopes of climbing the table.