Although the Vancouver Whitecaps are very much out of the playoff picture, Saturday’s clash against the Portland Timbers at 11 p.m. ET at Providence Park will be a crucial matchup in the Cascadia Cup standings.
The Cascadia Cup is awarded to the team that has collected the most regular-season points in the matchups between Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. Vancouver and Seattle currently share first place with four points each, but both teams have played one fixture more than the Portland Timbers, who currently have three points.
For Vancouver Whitecaps, who finally ended their 11 game winless streak last Saturday against Cincinnati FC, winning the Cascadia Cup could somewhat alleviate the pain of what has been a traumatic season.
Not only are the ‘Caps second from bottom in the Western Conference, Vancouver was also eliminated from the Canadian Championship by Canadian Premier League side Cavalry FC.
“It is not over until it is mathematically done,” goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau said when asked about the playoffs. The statistics page Five Thirty Eight, however, has calculated that there is less than 1% chance of the Whitecaps making the playoffs.
With that in mind, the Cascadia Cup will be of even more importance. Portland, however, needs the points to keep their playoff hopes alive—the Timbers are two points behind FC Dallas, who sit just above the playoff line in seventh place.
“We need the points because the Cascadia Cup is still there,” Crépeau said. “I am looking forward to playing there, Providence Park is unreal and I enjoy when the [opposite fans] scream at me.”
“They are a great team, with a lot of great pieces,” head coach Marc Dos Santos said on Thursday. “They have very good pieces, but they are a little bit hurt, after the loss against Minnesota in the US Open Cup, in front of their fans against their rivals Vancouver and tiredness doesn’t exist in moments like that.”
Vancouver head into the game with four points from two games. Those results have released some of the pressure that has been building by an impatient fan-base that is being fed up with what has been turbulent rebuild year.
Winning the Cascadia Cup in a season that has been filled with disappointments would give Dos Santos further breathing room.
“We understand the importance, and we will have our guys to have ready for that one,” he said.
There is a sense of optimism that the ‘Caps can gain something in Portland. Not only have ‘Caps been undefeated in two games but three of Vancouver’s four Cascadia Cup points were collected in their 1-0 win over Portland on May 10 at BC Place.
Not in the squad will be new signings Michaell Chirinos and Tosaint Rickett. Both were signed this week but are still awaiting final paperwork and will not be available until next Saturday when Vancouver host DC United.