After dominating their Cascadia rivals but having to settle for a 2-2 draw thanks to a controversial call by the ref, the Whitecaps head to Portland for their second Cascadia cup match of 2014.
No matter what team you support in MLS you will undoubtedly be very familiar with the shortcomings of referees in this league. Hating on the referee is part of being a fan. It’s about defending your team even if the ref was right or wrong. There will always be controversial calls in MLS and in every league in every sport. The problem with the MLS referee situation is not just the odd bad call here and there. The problem is MLS referees are becoming seen and not heard. By this I mean they are becoming a focal point each game. We will always need someone to blow the whistle but our refs are becoming noticeable because of their continued inadequacies. And the problem doesn’t exist for just one ref, it’s all of them. After watching MLS for many years I honestly couldn’t name one good ref. The best proof of referee Ismail Elfath having a bad game was the fact that I received many messages of sympathy from my Seattle friends about the infamous penalty kick call. Fans around the league will have heard about the great Cascadia rivalry. Fans from Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland don’t agree on much. That’s why when Seattle diehards were sending me messages about what a horrible call it was I knew my anger towards the ref was justified.
Alright enough about refs. When Ismail Elfath wasn’t blowing his whistle the Whitecaps and Sounders showed why they are among the most exciting teams in the league to watch. Vancouver out shot Seattle 24 to 8 and if they had someone who could finish Vancouver would surely have won the game in the first few minutes of the game as they flew out of the gate at Seattle. Head coach Carl Robinson has a talented young team at his disposal but he will desperately want to add an experienced finisher in the summer as that is by far the biggest hole on Vancouver’s roster. Whitecaps forward Erik Hurtado scored his second of the season and it was a beauty just like his winning goal versus Columbus. Hurtado is gradually gaining confidence in front of goal as the season progresses but his composure is still lacking.
Vancouver striker Darren Mattocks is close to returning from his hamstring injury which he suffered last month. It is doubtful he will start in Portland but he could see action as a substitute. Many expected Vancouver to send midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker packing after the game vs Seattle but RB Ethen Sampson is still injured so Reo-Coker will likely start in defence.
After a slow start to the season the Portland Timbers are starting to regain their 2013 form. No doubt this weekend’s match between these two teams will be entertaining.