Vancouver will put out the dumpster fire that was their 2016 season on Sunday in front of their long suffering fans at BC Place. This week’s tormentors are the Portland Timbers, who head north with a lot on the line in what could be a pretty fiery Cascadian derby.
The Timbers are currently outside the playoff picture by a single goal. They are on equal points with Sporting Kansas City, and a full point behind Seattle Sounders. Kansas play San Jose, who are in a similar state to Vancouver, so they should get the three points they need to stay above the red line, The Sounders play Real Salt Lake, who could also drop out of the playoffs if other results don’t go their way. A win for Portland guarantees them playoff football and a chance to defend the MLS Cup.
Basically, the Whitecaps will be on the outside looking in at an awesome afternoon of table watching.
I could go into tactics, but the truth is nothing has really been working. I would like to see a signal of intent from this team. That doesn’t mean a huge tactical innovation, but desire from the players to show that they want to be here.
I for one was glad there was a training ground incident between Pedro Morales and David Ousted. At least Ousted wants to do well by this team and city.
This game is merely a pretext of the off season, and the question to the players is: do you want to be here next season? Players like Morales and Christian Bolanos don’t seem to put in the effort sometimes, while others like Jordan Smith and Masato Kudo don’t seem to have the quality to make an impression on this league.
Bringing focus back to the goings on this Sunday, maybe we can get some pleasure in dragging the Timbers and their travelling fans into the abyss that is the lack of postseason soccer. It really would stoke up the rivalry and put a smile on the faces of ‘Caps supporters in a season where there has been so little to cheer about, particularly at home.
A Whitecaps win knocks the Timbers out. A draw might also knock them out. A ‘Caps win by three or more goals sees them lift the Cascadia Cup. Double the fun!
The Timbers came up trumps last year in the two-legged playoff match-up. They were the better team, deserved to win, and it hurt the Whitecaps badly. But Vancouver have nothing to lose this time. Hopefully that freedom can take away any pressure. Strange results can happen in these circumstances: at the end of the 2015/16 Premier League season, the already relegated Newcastle beat title contenders Tottenham 5-1. That would be a perfect way to end the season.
Turning to the Cascadia Cup. In all honesty, I think all three clubs have outgrown this competition. The rivalries are alive and well, but the ‘Caps have been crowned Canadian Champions and are in the knockout stages of the CCL. The Timbers are defending MLS Cup Champions, and Seattle are one of the most star-studded teams in the league. It was fun when each team was trying to establish themselves, but it is a sideshow now (I know a large swathe of supporters will not agree).
I hope the Whitecaps play with the right attitude. I want them to show that things will be different next season. I want the players who want to stay, to fight. And those who don’t, to take their things and leave. Goodbye 2016 season, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Final Predictions From The View From 202 Crew:
Nick: 2-2, Crazy Cascadia rivalry game