Cascadia derbies are endlessly entertaining. It is a rarity to witness a boring match between the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Portland Timbers and the Seattle Sounders. So far this season we have seen a dramatic battle between the Timbers and the Whitecaps in Vancouver followed by a cagey affair in Seattle between the Sounders and the Timbers.
This weekend the Whitecaps travel south to face their expansion cousins missing the relentless force that is Matias Laba. The Argentine defensive midfielder was on the wrong end of a red card during last week’s 2-1 defeat to DC United. This means that should Carl Robinson choose to stick with his favored 4-2-3-1 formation we will likely see Gershon Koffie fill in for Laba. Once one of the brightest stars on the Whitecaps roster, Koffie has taken a backseat as the resurgent Russell Teibert has won the starting DM role beside Laba. Koffie is a yellow card magnet often due to his late challenges. He has failed to impress this year so he will surely be looking to improve his image in front of his coach and travelling fans.
Portland fans will see the familiar face of Pa-Modou Kah as the center back will line up beside Kendall Waston in the backline. Kah has been less than stellar this season. His frequent turnovers have cost his team dearly and fans in Vancouver getting restless. Unfortunately, an injury to fellow center back, Diego Rodriguez is still unhealed so this means Kah is still a favourite to start. That sound you heard was a collective groan from Vancouver supporters.
Currently 8th in the Western Conference, the Timbers will receive a massive boost in the attacking third this weekend when Diego Valeri makes his return from ACL surgery. Vancouver fans will be pleased that Portland captain and Canadian Men’s National Team member, Will Johnson still has a few more weeks left in his recovery from a broken foot.
The 2015 regular season is flying by at warp speed and you can’t help but feel that this match will be far more important to the Timbers than Vancouver. Currently at opposite ends of the standings the Timbers must begin to right the ship now if they hope to stay with the pack and fight for a playoff spot.
The match will mark the beginning of a very busy segment of the 2015 season for the Whitecaps. Next Wednesday they will face FC Edmonton after the Alberta side defeated the Ottawa Fury to advance in the Canadian Championship. After just 4 away matches the Whitecaps have already equaled their 2014 record of 3 away victories. They are playing with a confidence which the team has lacked in previous years. A victory in Portland followed by a win in Edmonton would be a fantastic week for the Whitecaps.