It is round two for the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Cascadia Cup. After a 0-0 draw against the Seattle Sounders, Vancouver are now looking for their first three points in the Cascadia Cup, and also their first consecutive back to back wins in MLS when they host the Portland Timbers 7 p.m Friday.
Created by the fan groups of the three Pacific Northwest clubs — Vancouver, Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders — in 2004, the Cascadia Cup is awarded annually to the club that finishes with the best record in the season series between the three rival clubs. Vancouver is the record champion with six titles, but Seattle won the 2018 edition.
“You know it’s a tough Cascadia match the rivalry game,” Russell Teibert said after training on Tuesday. “And they always play us hard, anytime we go there, or they come here. It’s a big matchup it’s a tough matchup. It’s a grind.”
Both teams head into Friday’s encounter with a win. The Whitecaps beat Colorado Rapids 3-2 on the road to collect their second win of the season. Meanwhile, the Portland Timbers took three points off Real Salt Lake City down in Utah and have now won three games in a row.
As a result, Portland, with one game in hand, are one point ahead of the Caps in the MLS Western Conference standings.
With just one defeat in the last five games, the Whitecaps have shown significant improvement over the last few weeks under new head coach Marc Dos Santos.
“I know it’s a cliche these days to say trust the process,” midfielder Andy Rose said. “We’re raring to go on Friday.”
Head coach Marc Dos Santos was quick to point out that the Whitecaps are still not in a great position. At the same time, he has been happy about his team’s progress in recent weeks.
“There are five teams there between nine and eleven points,” Dos Santos said. “We could have easily, and you guys know this, have eleven points,” Dos Santos added as he referred to the many VAR calls that went against the Whitecaps this season.
What impressed the head coach most in the tough stretches, for example when the Whitecaps lost the first three games, was the locker rooms mentality.
“There was frustration,” Dos Santos said. “We wanted to do well. But this was never a group of crying, blaming and being negative.”
Perhaps it was the mentality in the locker room that convinced the Whitecaps that they did not need to add a new player at the primary transfer window deadline day on Tuesday. “The names of the people we were looking at, the possible trades, were all plaster situations,” Dos Santos said about the club’s inactivity yesterday.
Meanwhile, Friday’s opponent the Portland Timbers added a marquee signing in Argentine forward Brian Fernandez. The striker, however, will not be available on Friday as the Timbers still have not yet received the forward’s International Transfer Certificate (ITC).
Many Whitecaps supporters would have liked to see the Caps’ bring in an attacking player as well but the fans are willing to wait until the summer if that means the right signing is made. In that regard, the fans have been patient. But in another case patience is slowly running out.
For a third time this season, Whitecaps supporters will walk out in the 35th minute as a sign of support for members of two women’s teams, the 2008 Whitecaps and U-20 Canadian national team, who have lodged allegations of abuse toward a former coach. Only this, they will be joined by the visiting Timbers Army, who will also protest.
The walkout should put a significant damper on what is usually a carnivalesque affair when these two Cascadia Cup rivals meet at BC Place.
Fan walkout or not, however, the Whitecaps want to win this game and get into the driver’s seat when it comes to regaining the Cascadia Cup. Or as Russell Teibert put it: “We are the Cascadia champs as history states, and we want to reattain that title.”