In Pictures: Vancouver head to Portland and snap 15-game streak in Cascadia Cup clash

The Portland Timbers’ 15-game streak is over. Of all the teams to end their unbeaten run, they would not have wanted it to be Cascadia rivals; Vancouver Whitecaps. But that’s the way it ended as the Whitecaps ran out 2-1 in what was a dramatic night at Providence Park.

Portland were awarded two penalties on the night but couldn’t keep their unbeaten run going. The result means they have been handed their first home loss of 2018. For the Whitecaps, it keeps their playoff push alive following a draw at New York City FC before Saturday’s game. They are now two points outside of the playoffs in the West.

The Whitecaps took the lead in the 14th minute, with Kei Kamara heading in from Kendall Waston’s pass to silence the home crowd. But Waston was then at fault as he brought down Diego Valeri in the box in the 40th minute, with the Timbers being awarded a spot-kick.

But Valeri missed the penalty, dragging his shot wide. And just moments later, the visitors doubled their lead. Brek Shea crossed in and Cristian Techera headed in Vancouver’s second, just a couple of minutes before half-time. The missed penalty and second Vancouver goal sucked the life out of Portland before the break.

The Timbers did come out fighting though and Valeri made up for his first-half penalty miss when he slotted in from the spot on 71 minutes. Portland pressed, looking for the equaliser to extend their unbeaten run to 16 but couldn’t find the goal. Vancouver held on, for what could prove to be three vital points come the end of the season.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s Cascadia Cup clash below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer, Denise McCooey.

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Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich ‘a done deal’ in record MLS transfer

The record-breaking transfer that will take Alphonso Davies to Bayern Munich is “a done deal” according to multiple sources. The deal for the 17-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps star will be the most expensive in MLS history.

Bayern will pay £11.5m for the Canadian winger, which could rise to £18m according to TSN’s Kristian Jack, but he adds that Davies will remain a Whitecaps player until the end of the 2018 MLS season. That would see Davies join up with his new teammates in Germany on January 1st 2019.

The transfer will make Davies Major League Soccer’s most expensive export. Jozy Altidore’s £6m move to Villarreal in 2008 has stood as the record transfer for ten years. The deal taking Alphonso Davies to Bayern is also worth more than the record sum of £11m Atlanta United paid for Ezequiel Barco ahead of this season.

Davies has taken MLS by storm since making his debut in July 2016, when he became the second-youngest player to play in the league at the age of 15, only behind Freddy Adu. He has gone on to make 54 MLS appearances for the Whitecaps, scoring three and assisting nine.

All three of those goals and eight of the nine assists have come this season, with the pacey winger looking sharper than ever. It’s no surprise Europe’s top clubs have been tracking his progress given how quickly he has developed in such a short space of time.

Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool were reportedly interested in signing him last season but didn’t make a formal offer due to work permit concerns. But Bayern have now swooped as they look to make an investment in the North American market. Reports also suggest they are hoping to add USMNT star Christian Pulisic from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund.

Davies, who turns 18 in November, is expected to return to Vancouver Whitecaps training after the deal is completed. He missed the weekend loss to Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders, following permission from head coach Carl Robinson. He is averaging a goal or assist every 137 minutes this season so Vancouver will need his services while they still have them for the remainder of the season.

The Canadian winger was also named to the 2018 MLS All-Star team to face Juventus on August 1st, so he will still be expected to be available for the game.

Lodeiro inspires Sounders to beat Whitecaps as another late-summer playoff surge looms

Throughout their MLS history, the Seattle Sounders have made a trend of struggling in the early stages of the season before finding their stride in the Summer, much like they did in 2016 en route to winning MLS Cup. That Summer, Nico Lodeiro joined the club and, under then interim coach Brian Schmetzer, helped lead Seattle into playoff positions and ultimately was named the 2016 MLS Newcomer of the Year.

Fast forward two years later and the Sounders again find themselves in a hole, trying to continue their streak of making the playoffs every year of their MLS existence.

This time the hole is much deeper and the club has been devastated by injury all year but for possibly the first time this season the lofty expectations seem to be within reach.

The Sounders knocked off their Cascadia Cup rivals Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 on Saturday thanks to a brace from Lodiero and a confident performance from his teammates. Most excitingly we finally got a chance to see Raul Ruidiaz take the field in Rave Green and while it’s apparent that he is still learning how to play with his teammates he already looks dangerous in front of goal.

Ruidiaz’s debut would have been the biggest talking point this week if not for Lodeiro upstaging him with a masterful performance in midfield. Lodeiro’s passing was precise and incisive, constantly splitting defenders and finding open teammates. After opening the scoring from the penalty spot in the 4th minute of the match, Lodeiro doubled the lead in the 31st with a knuckling ball that completely fooled the Whitecaps’ keeper Stefan Marinovic. With the two-goal lead, Lodeiro seemed to really get into a groove and spent much of the second half terrorising defenders with his ball control and forcing Vancouver to foul him a match-high seven times.

With more time together Lodiero and Ruidiaz have the potential to unlock the Sounders attack as they learn each other’s habits and tendencies. Ruidiaz’s pace will help to stretch opposing defenses and open space for other attackers and should Lodiero continue his form from Saturday he’ll be an integral part of maximizing the danger that Ruidiaz creates.

As Seattle now prepares to head to Avaya Stadium in San Jose to face the cellar dwelling Earthquakes, they’ll also be looking to build upon only their third shutout of the season and first in a winning effort. Now just 10 points out of the playoffs and with games in hand, the Sounders will be desperate to get their first win at Avaya and continue their climb from the bottom of the Western Conference.

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In pictures: Whitecaps snap losing streak to pick up much-needed home win over Real Salt Lake

Vancouver Whitecaps picked up a much-needed win on Friday night, beating Real Salt Lake 2-0 at BC Place Stadium to end a three-game losing streak. The Whitecaps had now won at home since opening day so the fans inside BC Place will have been delighted to see their team march to three points.

Real Salt Lake will be frustrated not to have scored for the second consecutive road game. They have now lost three-straight away games and have one point from a possible 12 on the road in 2018.

The game had to wait until the 75th minute for the opening goal and it didn’t come without drama. Cristian Techera scored from the penalty spot to give Vancouver the lead after Nick Besler brought down Nicolas Mezquida. But Techera celebrated by taking his jersey off, earning himself a second yellow card as a result, and was sent off before the game restarted. Techera had been booked just minutes before the penalty incident, so his moment of madness in the celebrations cost him.

Fortunately it didn’t cost the Whitecaps. They added a second goal a couple of minutes after Techera saw red, with Alphonso Davies making a trademark run down the left before putting it on a plate for Anthony Blondell. Davies only played 28 minutes but made a difference to the hosts attacking intensity and got a deserved assist.

Check out exclusive photos from Friday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer Simon Fearn.

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In pictures: Vancouver Whitecaps 0-2 LAFC – Visitors end Whitecaps’ 11-game home streak

The Vancouver Whitecaps saw their 11-game unbeaten run at BC Place come to an end on Friday night as LAFC snapped a two-game losing streak, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi. Vancouver have now lost back-to-back MLS games for the first time in over a year.

LAFC forward Marcos Urena assisted both goals, further highlighting how important he is to the expansion side. Vela and Rossi might be making headlines, but Urena is a vital threat in his own right.

Vancouver will be disappointed not to have found the net for the second-straight home game. They remain second after Friday’s result, but LAFC are just a point behind and have played two games fewer.

Bob Bradley’s men have one more away game – a trip to Montreal next week – before they make their long-anticipated home debut at Banc of California Stadium.

Check out exclusive photos from Friday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographer, Simon Fearn.

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In pictures: Vancouver Whitecaps 0-0 LA Galaxy – Shorthanded Galaxy battle for a draw at Vancouver

The Vancouver Whitecaps headed into Saturday’s home game with LA Galaxy as overwhelming favourites, given the Galaxy’s long list of absences. The visitors had just 17 players in their matchday squad – including three goalkeepers – but put in a solid display to earn a 0-0 draw at BC Place.

Vancouver will be disappointed with their lack of attacking quality over the course of the 90 minutes. But they still picked up a first clean sheet of the season and stretched their unbeaten home run to a club MLS record 11 matches.

In a game of few clear-cut chances, the best fell to Yordy Reyna in the first-half. The Whitecaps attacker got in behind the Galaxy defence but David Bingham made himself big and made a crucial block to keep the shot out.

The draw sees the Whitecaps sit joint-top of the Western Conference with Sporting Kansas City. However, Vancouver are just one of six MLS teams to have played four games through the first four weeks of the 2018 season. So their rivals have games in hand at this early stage.

LA Galaxy sit 7th in the West with four points from three games. They have a huge game to prepare for next weekend, with the first LA Derby coming up as LAFC come to town. New signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be available for his debut too.

Check out exclusive photos from Saturday’s game below, courtesy of MLSGB photographers Simon Fearn, John May and Hazel May.

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Radio Cascadia Episode 143: Sounders dare to dream, while Timbers left with plenty to think about

MLSGB has joined up with the Radio Cascadia podcast for the 2018 season, giving our readers the chance to catch up on all the latest news from the Pacific Northwest, where MLS clubs Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps look to continue to dominate the Western Conference. 

Radio Cascadia is a weekly podcast and is an authoritative steward of the Cascadian perspective, representing the most passionate, unified and unique fan bases in the country. Their passion is well justified, not only by the clubs’ nearly fifty years of shared history but also thanks to rampant success in the MLS era.

In a spicy hot Radio Cascadia, the gang takes a look at a pair of surprising weekend results including a historic victory in Houston and a shocking display in Harrison. In the Champions League, tune in for an in-depth breakdown of a gutsy Seattle home win over Chivas Guadalajara as well as a tactical preview of the second leg. 

Episode 143 Playlist:

10:45 – Vancouver Whitecaps: Brek-ing the Streak

25:00 – Portland Timbers: Well That Sucked

35:15 – Seattle Sounders: Dare to Dream?

In pictures: Vancouver Whitecaps 2-1 Montreal Impact – New faces on show as ‘Caps edge out Canadian rivals

The Vancouver Whitecaps got their 2018 MLS campaign off to the perfect start, beating Montreal Impact 2-1 thanks to goals from new signing Kei Kamara and teenage sensation Alphonso Davies.

Both sides had plenty of new faces on show following busy offseason work on restructuring their teams for the 2018 season. The game was scoreless at the half, with neither side able to stamp their authority down.

But the hosts took the initiative in the second-half, scoring twice in eight minutes to go 2-0 up. First, Alphonso Davies crossed for Kamara to head in brilliantly. Then, Davies himself got a goal, slotting in Cristian Techera’s low cross, despite Evan Bush seemingly doing enough to keep it out. It was Davies’ first MLS goal and the 17-year-old winger earned MLSGB’s Attacking Player of the Week accolade for his fine performance.

Montreal didn’t give up and managed to claw a goal back through Matteo Mancosu in the 81st minute, after a brilliant cross by Daniel Lovitz. But the ‘Caps were able to hold on to a valuable opening win in front of a record crowd at BC Place for a season opener.

Check out exclusive photos from Sunday’s game below, courtesy of Simon Fearn and Hazel May.

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MLS Attacking Player of the Week: Week 1 – Whitecaps winger steals the show

For every week of the 2018 MLS season, MLSGB will award two Player of the Week accolades to the previous gameweek’s standout performers. We will highlight one star attacking player, as well as the leading defensive performer from the last round of fixtures. The Attacking Player of the Week award can be won by strikers, wingers and advanced midfielders. While the Defensive Player of the Week award can be won by goalkeepers, defenders and defensive midfielders.

The Vancouver Whitecaps made a perfect start to the 2018 season, beating Montreal Impact 2-1 at BC Place in front of the largest opening-day crowd in Whitecaps history. And the 27,837 fans in attendance were treated to an outstanding performance by 17-year-old winger Alphonso Davies. The young Canadian is MLSGB’s Attacking Player of the Week for the opening weekend of the 2018 season after picking up a goal and an assist to fire Vancouver to three points.

Davies linked up well with Whitecaps winter signing Kei Kamara throughout the game and assisted the MLS veteran in the 63rd minute to give Vancouver the lead.

Then, seven minutes later and Davies netted the first MLS goal of his young career, slotting in Cristian Techera’s cross. Evan Bush got a hand to the shot but couldn’t stop it from rolling over the line. Davies wheeled away in celebration, becoming the 10th youngest scorer in league history.

He deserved his goal and showed great attacking intent throughout Sunday’s contest. He completed six of his eight dribbles on the night, emphasising his confidence on the ball as well as the confidence his teammates have in finding him.

Don’t miss – MLS Defensive Player of the Week: Week 1

Davies is already playing in his third MLS season since making his debut for the Whitecaps as a 15-year-old back in July 2016. He has now made 35 regular season appearances (12 starts), with one goal and two assists to his name. The early signs suggest he could be one of the league’s most dangerous stars in 2018…

Crystal Palace midfielder Jordon Mutch completes Vancouver Whitecaps move

The Vancouver Whitecaps have completed the signing of Jordon Mutch from English Premier League side Crystal Palace on a one-year loan, with the option to buy. Mutch becomes Vancouver’s 10th signing of the winter and leaves Palace after failing to make an appearance this season.

The 26-year-old English midfielder has only appeared on the Eagles’ bench three times over the course of the 2017/18 campaign and will be hoping the move to Major League Soccer can help reignite his career.

The former Cardiff City and QPR man has recorded a total of 17 goals and added 26 assists in 206 club matches in all competitions over the course of his career so far. He is a box-to-box midfielder, who replaces the outgoing Tony Tchani for Vancouver.

“Jordon is a top midfielder who has played at the highest level,” Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson said. “He’s played against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, and Manchester United and now he wants to prove himself again in a new environment.

“He likes to get forward, he’s full of energy, and he’s in the prime of his career. We’re delighted to have him here.”

Mutch will spend the entire 2018 season with the Whitecaps, with the club having the option to purchase him if his time in MLS is a success.

The Vancouver Whitecaps kick off the 2018 season this weekend, taking on Montreal Impact on Sunday evening at BC Place Stadium. It’s unlikely that Mutch will be included in the lineup, given that he lacks match practice and will not have had enough time to prepare for the game.