Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers | MLS Cup Playoffs Match Preview
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS vs. PORTLAND TIMBERS
BC Place, Vancouver, B.C.
November 8, 2015 (Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs, Conference Semifinals Leg 2)
10 pm ET (FS1, Fox Deportes in US; TSN1/RDS1 in Canada)
Series tied 0-0 on aggregate
The Western Conference Semifinal Series between Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Portland Timbers is finely poised as the clubs face off in the second leg at BC Place. The Cascadia rivals battled through a scoreless draw in the first leg at Providence Park, leaving all to play for in the return match. Whitecaps FC have still not lost to the Timbers over the 2015 campaign, winning the only league meeting this year at BC Place, a 2-1 win in Match. The teams played to three draws at Providence Park in league and cup matches.
REFEREE: Ismail Elfath.
AR1 (bench): Corey Rockwell; AR2 (opposite): Peter Manikowski; 4th: Ricardo Salazar
WARNINGS (suspended next yellow card): VAN: Gershon Koffie ... POR: Liam Ridgewell, Rodney Wallace, George Fochive, Diego Valeri, Lucas Melano
LEAGUE HEAD-TO-HEAD: VAN 2 wins, 15 GF ... POR 6 wins, 23 GF ... Ties 6
2015 HEAD-TO-HEAD: VAN 1 win, 3 goals; POR 0 wins, 2 goals; Ties 2
AT BC PLACE:
3/28: VAN 2, POR 1 (Mezquida 15; Earnshaw 90 -- Adi 82)
MLS CUP PLAYOFFS: VAN 0 wins, 0 goals; POR 0 wins, 0 goals; Ties 1
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
- Whitecaps FC have still never won an MLS Cup Playoffs match in their history, having lost their first two matches in 2012 and 2014 before the first-leg draw.
- "We just have to win the game. If we win the game of football at home in our backyard then we are through. If they get an away goal then they know they have the slight advantage there but we will rest up and be ready for next week as well," said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson.
- Over their MLS existence, Whitecaps FC have faced MLS opponents in two-leg ties five times in the Canadian Championship -- and have won just once, earlier this year when they claimed the national title 4-2 on aggregate vs. Montreal Impact.
- "Everyone wants [a goal]. I'm sure they want a home goal as well. The mindset now changes to next week's game at BC Place and they are important away goals, we know that, but we had two great chances in the first half and we didn't take them. Nothing you can do. You have to get back to work," said Robinson.
- It was the first career MLS postseason shutout for David Ousted, who tied for the league lead with 13 clean sheets this season (after leading MLS with 13 in 2014).
- "He's been brilliant. He's been brilliant all season for me. Obviously, he's taken over the captaincy since Pedro [Morales] has been out the team. I remember him making a great save from Diego Valeri. Super free kick and obviously he gets a bit of luck at the end. Sometimes you need luck in this game as we all know," said Robinson. Said Ousted: "I thought it was a professional showing of what we needed to do, be defensively sound and make sure they didn't get that goal so we needed to chase. I thought we did well. Obviously we would have loved to get that away goal but it wasn't to be."
- There was a welcome sight for the 'Caps as Pedro Morales came on for the final 13 minutes, his first appearance since the Oct. 3 league match vs. San Jose.
- "You see the quality he has when he comes on. Mauro Rosales as well. We've missed these players. You want your good players in your team. The guys who have been playing have done fantastically well for us. It'll set up nicely, give them a week of full training and Iím sure heíll be ready to go," Robinson said.
- The Timbers had their MLS Cup Playoffs winless streak extended to three matches with a second consecutive attacking shutout -- both of those coming at Providence Park.
- "It puts us in a good spot. Obviously not as good as if we would have won 1-0, but they didn't get the away goal. So if we score one goal, they have to score two. If we score two goals, they have to score three," said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. "It will make for a very interesting second leg. We've won seven games on the road and we've been very hot on the road recently and we've scored goals on the road. It puts us in a good position to go and play for the win."
- The draw did extend the Timbers undefeated run to four games in all competitions, after ending the year with three consecutive victories. "We are going to try to score goals. We are not going to sit back. Obviously we will be smart like we were today. But we play to win and we play to score goals. We are capable of scoring goals and if we score goals, now they have to get one more than us," Porter said.
- After not making a single first-team appearance over the course of the regular season, Jake Gleeson stepped in between the posts and recorded the shutout. Gleeson has made four appearances in his MLS league career, all coming in 2011 (starting three, going 2-0-1 with no clean sheets).
- "I thought he was great. We want that out of our young players when they get the opportunity to be able to step in. We've had several in that position this year and they've all done a really good job. He didn't have a ton to do, but what he did have to manage I think he looked very comfy," said Porter.
- Porter kept an unchanged group among the 11 outfield players for the first leg, as Diego Chara was still out after being forced off early in the regular season finale. Darlington Nagbe dropped into a deeper-lying role, with Diego Valeri filling the playmaking midfield spot.
- "Second half we wanted to get more possession and I think we did that. I think it helped us control the game better. The reason was getting him on the ball, bringing him deep to help build attacks. I haven't seen his numbers [yet] but I bet they are pretty high in terms of his pass completions," said Porter.