Match Preview

What to know ahead of the clash at Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The first Cascadia Cup clash kicks off in Vancouver, BC on Saturday.
February 27, 2023: Juan David Mosquera celebrates after the Timbers home opener.

After securing the first point on the road in dramatic fashion last Saturday at FC Dallas, the Portland Timbers now shift their focus to the next road test in Vancouver, BC.

Here's what you need to know.

April 7, 2023: Evander boards the team plane to Vancouver, BC.

Keeping the Cup

The Portland Timbers have claimed three Cascadia Cup titles in their MLS history (2022, 2017, 2012), and won last year's Cup with a combined record of 3-0-1, outscoring Seattle (2-0-0) and Vancouver (1-0-1). This year, the Timbers will have six matches to try keep the fan-created trophy in Portland, with four of those games occurring before the summer. They will face Seattle at home the following weekend, on April 15.

In 2022, the competition's golden boot went to Dairon Asprilla, who scored 3 goals in those games. Can he lead the team to a repeat Cup win?

Fresh legs

In a very tight matchup with Dallas last weekend, Portland looked aggressive on the counter, and found opportunities to capitalize. Still, down 1-0 with momentum stacked against them, Portland looked poised for another road loss.

The subs changed the game: In his 30 minutes of action in Frisco, a newly-healthy Dairon Asprilla did what he has always done: provided a spark, making incessant runs up and down the wing. Following a lofted ball into the box, he set up Franck Boli for the equalizer in the 91st minute.

As for Boli, he became Portland's 11th player to score in their debut match, and the quickest to do so with a goal six minutes into his MLS career. The goal earned Boli MLS Team of the Matchday honors. Goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic's return to the starting line-up was also key to the final result.

There's another reason to hope for a result in Vancouver: The Timbers have scored in 15 straight away matches. They're among the most consistent in this category, having scored 94 road goals since the start of the 2019 MLS season, second only to New England Revolution (103 goals).

Historical dominance

The Timbers have historically dominated their Canadian rivals, both at home and away, with a record of 16-9-8 in regular-season play since they both entered the league in 2011. At BC Place, Portland has the upper hand with a 7-5-2 record.

History, however, is not a reliable predictor, especially in a rivalry game with a lot at stake. Both teams will step onto the BC Place turf looking to put a shaky early season behind them: Vancouver currently sits in 9th place in the Western Conference standings, just above the playoff line while the Timbers are in 10th place, one point behind. It took Vancouver five matches to win their first match this season, losing two straight to start the season and drawing three times. Vancouver's lone win this season came last weekend, a 5-0 thrashing of a ten-man Montreal CF at home.

Complicating things for the Whitecaps is the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, which may mean some surprises in their lineup on Saturday night. Vancouver will need to recover from Wednesday evening's CCL quarterfinal defeat against LAFC and keep legs fresh for the second leg next Wednesday. With three games in eight days, it's likely we'll see some player rotation for Vancouver.