Game Preview: Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps + Watch In PDX | Cascadia Cup Match

By Will Conwell
Cascadia Flag | Portland Timbers The game starts at 7PM on Roots Sports. If you do not have tickets, cable, or want a good Portland establishment to enjoy with friends, we have a couple suggestions from our sponsors.

Watch Timbers Games in Portland:

East Burn (East Burnside & 18th) | (503) 236-2876 | More info: www.theeastburn.com
East Burn will have the game on a large projection screen on their heated patio and also downstairs. Recess discount menu from 3-6PM. They have daily drink specials (pdf of specials here).

Blitz (Ladd, Pearl, Tigard, NW 21) | More info: blitzbarpdx.webs.com
Blitz’s FOUR locations will be happening as always with tons of televisions, drinks specials, and games (ping pong, shuffleboard, buckhunters, horseshoes in Tigard, and more).

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Game Preview: Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Game 12: Portland Timbers (3W-5L-3T) vs Vancouver Whitecaps (5W-3L-3T)
Saturday, May 26, 7:00 p.m.
Previous match-up(s): 8/20/11 2-1 Home Win, 10/4/11 1-0 Away Win
Listen/Watch: ROOT Sports, 750 AM: THE GAME, PortlandTimbers.com

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FREE BUS RIDES TO GAMES: Ride Blitz Bus To Portland Timbers Games | FREE Rides from Blitz Tigard & Ladd to Jeld-Wen Field

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Coming up on a long break from MLS play, the Timbers face off today against their rivals for the Cascadia Cup, the Vancouver Whitecaps.The match up sees two clubs in opposite form squaring up against each other as the Timbers try to extend a three match unbeaten run,capped by a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire last weekend, and make their way up the league table while the Whitecaps must try to recover from an uninspired loss against the league’s worst team, Toronto FC, to give up the Canadian Championship.

In the course of their three game undefeated streak the Timbers have relied on their defense to carry them through. Eric Brunner, Hanyer Mosquera, and Futty Danso have all had turns in the center of the defense and each has looked good in shutting down their opponents. However, the greatest contributor to theTimbers recent run of form has been Troy Perkins in goal. While early in the season Perkins was playing well and making the expected saves, in recent games he has stepped up for team, making several outstanding reaction saves.

Along with picking up three points against Chicago, the Timbers scored their first goal in four games over the weekend courtesy of Eric Brunner as well as picking up a second thanks to an own goal forced by a Kris Boyd header. Both goals came off of corner kicks, allowing the Timbers to show off some of the set piece bite that they were known for last year. However, the Timbers will still be looking for a goal from the run of play, particularly with both Darlington Nagbe and Kris Boyd being held scoreless in the last five games.

The Timbers have suffered from a lack of quality service with a number of the team’s more creative players missing due to injury. However, with Sal Zizzo getting minutes against Houston and Chicago in the last two weeks, and Kalif Alhassan marking his return from injury against Valencia in the middle of the week, the Timbers offensive talents may get the spark they need to start banging in goals.

The Timbers are missing players in other areas of the pitch. Jake Gleeson and Steve Purdy have both left for duty with their respective national teams while Futty Danso, Rodney Wallace, and Lovel Palmer will all leave for national team duty later in the week. Danso and Jack Jewsbury are also questionable thanks to injuries picked up against the Houston Dynamo and both will likely be game-time decisions for John Spencer.

The Whitecaps, who currently stand fourth in the western conference, have been one of the surprises of MLS this season after ending last year with the league’s worst record. The Whitecaps turn around can largely be credited to several important new contributors, particularly new coach Martin Rennie and forward Sebastian LeToux. Rennie, who was brought in over the offseason to take over for interim manager Tom Soehn, has gotten the best out of his squad in a way that the league only saw glimpses of last year. The addition of LeToux, who was a fan favorite in both Seattle and Philadelphia, has solidified an offense that, while talented, struggled last season.

STRATEGY
On offense, the Timbers need their returning attacking players to continue to step up. Sal Zizzo has looked good creating chances for the team in his limited time and Kalf Alhassan looked every bit the dynamic playmaker that the team has been lacking in his run out against Valencia. With these two players getting back into the team, Rodney Wallace and Franck Songo’o will need to make the most of their shifts or risk losing their places on the field.

On defense, the Timbers will need to limit passing options for Vancouver. The Whitecaps have excellent attackers in Eric Hassili, Camillo, and LeToux. They are capable of scoring on the break, particularly through LeToux, or by breaking down their opponents in the box, as the Timbers saw in Vancouver’s lone goal scored in their visit to Jeld-Wen last year. To prevent Vancouver from bringing their attack to bear the Timbers will need to mark their men well and cut out passing lanes.

TIMBERS LEADING SCORERS
Darlington Nagbe – 3
Kris Boyd – 3
Kalif Alhassan – 1
Andrew Jean-Baptiste – 1
Eric Brunner – 1

UPCOMING GAMES
6/17 @ Los Angeles Galaxy
6/24 vs. Seattle Sounders
6/30 @ Colorado Rapids
7/3 vs. San Jose Earthquakes
7/7 @ Real Salt Lake

TIMBERS PREDICTED LINE-UP
Perkins (GK)
Jewsbury (RB), Brunner (CB), Mosquera (CB), Smith (LB)
Songo’o (RM), Palmer (CM), Chara (CM), Wallace (LM)
Boyd (F), Nagbe (F)

BOTTOM LINE
The Timbers’ first Cascadia Cup match up of the year comes at a hugely important time for the team. A win over Vancouver could move the Timbers to being within one point of a playoff position and send the team into the upcoming MLS break on a high. Although the Timbers have been underperforming this season, the team has not been this healthy yet this season and looks primed for a win over the Whitecaps today.

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