Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers
2017 MLS regular season
BC Place - Vancouver, B.C.
Sunday, July 23 - 6:30 pm ET
WATCH: FS1, TSN 1/3/4/5, Fox Deportes
All of Cascadia finds itself on 27 points and above the playoff line as the resurgent Vancouver Whitecaps and spiraling Portland Timbers meet at BC Place to wrap up the Week 20 slate on national TV in the US and Canada.
The 'Caps have just one loss in their last six, including back-to-back wins against New York City FC and the LA Galaxy, and seem to be hitting their stride thanks to some lineup consistency and the return of the likes of Yordy Reyna. Meanwhile, the Timbers are in a relative free fall, winless in six and with just two victories in their last 13 games.
Plenty of goals are a safe bet considering each side has won two of the last four regular season meetings, all home team wins, with an average of 4.3 goals scored per game.
BC Place has become a fortress for Carl Robinson's men. The Whitecaps have lost just one of their last seven regular season matches at home (5W-1D), conceding multiple goals just twice over that span. It hadn't always been that way. Vancouver had won one of their eight home games prior (4L-3D).
All eyes will be on Reyna on Sunday night, as the Peruvian attacker is finally making an impact after surgery on his left foot ruled him out during the preseason. He scored his first MLS goal against NYCFC to give the 'Caps a big win against one of the league's elite sides.
"When we brought him in in the offseason, it was a quiet signing for us," Robinson said after that match. "I knew he had great technical ability. We saw it in Portland in preseason, then he gets injured.
"The Whitecaps fans have had to wait four months and be patient to see, but what an occasion today when he comes on. He should probably have scored two goals, but it was a great header. He wants to get in the box."
Robinson will have to fill a hole at centerback given Kendall Waston remains with the Costa Rican national team ahead of a Gold Cup semifinal against the US on Saturday.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: Kendall Waston (Costa Rica, Gold Cup)
- Injury Report: OUT: D - Brett Levis (ACL tear), D - David Edgar (PCL, MCL tear)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): David Ousted — Jordan Harvey, Tim Parker, Christian Dean, Jakob Nerwinski — Tony Tchani, Andrew Jacobson — Brek Shea, Christian Bolanos, Cristian Techera — Fredy Montero
Notes: In the 1,173 minutes that Christian Bolanos has been on the field for Vancouver this year, they average 1.5 goals per 90 minutes. In the 536 minutes where he hasn’t been on the field, that number falls down to 1.0 goals per 90 minutes.
Road points haven't come easy for the past year and a half for the Timbers, and it won't be any easier on Sunday considering as many as four starters remain unavailable on international duty and Fanendo Adi is suspended (red card).
Portland have won just two road games since the start of the 2016 season (16L-8D). Only Minnesota United (0), which started play this season, has fewer over that time. This Cascadia clash comes on the heels of a disappointing home loss, 4-1, to Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.
Head coach Caleb Porter told the Oregonian that only 11 or 12 first-team players plus two goalkeepers will be available for selection and he would bring three or four T2 players to help make up numbers.
"It's as thin as we've ever been," Porter said. "But we got to find a way to win. We got to find a way to get points. It's not going to be easy. This is a real test for this team and this club and this season. We got to step up and get the job done somehow."
- Suspended: Fanendo Adi (red card), Victor Arboleda (red card)
- Int’l Duty: M David Guzman (Costa Rica, Gold Cup), M Darren Mattocks (Jamaica, Gold Cup), D Alvas Powell (Jamaica, Gold Cup), M Darlington Nagbe (United States, Gold Cup)
- Injury Report: OUT – D Gbenga Orokoyo (Achilles' tear, out for the season), M Jack Barmby (ankle), D Liam Ridgewell (quad injury), D Amobi Okugo (knee injury); QUESTIONABLE: D Chance Myers (hamstring), D Vytautas Andriuskeviscius (hamstring), M Diego Chara (hamstring)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): Jake Gleeson – Vytautas Andriuskeviscius, Roy Miller, Larrys Mabiala, Zarek Valentin – Lawrence Olum, Ben Zemanski – Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, Dairon Asprilla – Jeremy Ebobisse
Notes: Portland’s two red cards against Real Salt Lake on Wednesday night was the first time in 225 regular season MLS matches that the Timbers had two players sent off in the same game. They were the 19th and 20th red cards in franchise regular season MLS history.
Portland won the earlier meeting this year, 2-1 in Portland on April 22, and holds a three-win advantage overall.
- Overall: Vancouver 4 wins (23 goals) … Portland 7 wins (29 goals) … Ties 6
- At Vancouver: Vancouver 3 win (12 goals) … Portland 3 wins (12 goals) … Ties 2
Referee: Chris Penso
Assistant Referees: Cameron Blanchard, Ian Anderson
Fourth Official: Baboucarr Jallow