With the Portland Timbers looking to bounce back from one of their toughest losses of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson has called the matchup a "massive game for the organization."
The visiting Timbers will try to leapfrog the Whitecaps into the Western Conference's final playoff spot Saturday night when they look to notch their first win in two years in the Cascadia Cup rivalry.
Portland (7-8-10) had been playing well during a 3-1-1 stretch before failing to move up in the playoff chase with Sunday's 4-2 home loss to Seattle.
The MLS-best Sounders scored three unanswered goals before Fanendo Adi hit the back of the net for the Timbers (7-5-12), who were eliminated from the Cascadia Cup race.
"That being a rivalry game, there's a lot of reasons we took it hard," coach Caleb Porter told the team's official website. "So I think it took a couple of more days to get over it, but the message was, we have to get over it. We've got to stay positive."
Adi, acquired from FC Copenhagen in late June, has been a bright spot with three goals in his last two games - including one in a 4-1 win over Alpha United in Champions League play.
Maximiliano Urruti leads Portland with eight MLS goals, while Diego Valeri has contributed seven and Adi, Gaston Fernandez and Will Johnson six apiece. The Timbers haven't had much trouble on the attack with the league's fourth-most goals (41), but they have struggled on the defensive end by allowing a West-worst 43.
Making matters worse, Argentine defender Norberto Paparatto has been suspended for this match after elbowing Seattle's Chad Marshall in the head.
Now Portland (31 points) will try to regroup with another opportunity to move past fifth-place Vancouver (33) into the conference's final playoff spot. Although Johnson has three goals and two assists in his last four meetings, the Timbers have gone 0-1-3 in this rivalry since a 1-0 victory at BC Place on a Jack Jewsbury goal in October 2012.
The Whitecaps have gone 1-2-5 since July 12 after being shut out for the third time in four matches Saturday, 2-0 at Los Angeles.
Vancouver, which trails Seattle by one point in the Cascadia Cup standings, didn't have trouble scoring in the first meeting with Portland. Pedro Morales led the way with a career-high two goals and two assists in a 4-3 road win June 1.
"It's a Cascadia Cup rivalry, we're close in the standings and there are important points on the line," goalkeeper David Ousted said after his three-match shutout streak was snapped by the Galaxy. "It's an important game, but we can't afford to go in there and be tight and believe that this is the one that's going to put is in the playoffs or not."
The Whitecaps will be without defender Johnny Leveron because of a red card, though midfielder Mauro Rosales could make his first start since being acquired from Chivas USA last week.
- Sports & Recreation
- Portland Timbers
- Cascadia Cup
- Fanendo Adi