Timbers, Whitecaps end one era, look ahead to another

535_180x180.whitecap_logo  Portland_timbers

BY JOSE M. ROMERO

Oh, those wild and crazy USSF-Division 2 schedule-makers.

Their flair for the dramatic brought the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps together for one last regular-season go-round Saturday afternoon north of the border in beautiful Burnaby, B.C. and Swangard Stadium.

It's the last time these two storied clubs will meet as lower-division opponents in regular-season play before taking their Cascadia rivalry to MLS in 2011, where they will join the Seattle Sounders to become North America's cradle of highest-level professional soccer. Rivals in the NASL days, then USL and the one year of USSF-2, Portland and Vancouver could still meet in the league playoffs. 

The Timbers have the fourth seed of eight playoff teams locked up, and if they beat the Whitecaps Saturday, can send Vancouver below them into the fifth spot. That would set up a first-round, home-and-home series of matches between the two sides, and Portland, as the higher seed, would host the second leg on Oct. 10. 

Vancouver can avoid the Timbers with some help. The Carolina Railhawks, like the Whitecaps, seek to capture the No. 2 seed and play seventh-seed NSC Minnesota Stars in the first round. According to the Whitecaps' website and the Vancouver Province. a Carolina loss to Austin Friday night means Vancouver earns the No. 2 seed with a win or tie over Portland. If Carolina draws, Vancouver clinches with a win, and if Carolina wins — Austin seeks to clinch the No. 1 overall seed, so it should be a good contest — the Whitecaps must beat the Timbers by at least one more goal than the Railhawks defeat the Aztex.

While Vancouver controls its own seeding destiny for the most part, it enters the Portland match having lost its last two matches and is 0-2-1 against the Timbers this season. The Timbers, by contrast, are sizzling with a nine-match unbeaten streak and have a win at Swangard this season already. 

Another reason to keep an eye on this one: Vancouver and Portland are 1-2 in the league in scoring defense, having allowed 20 and 21 goals to opponents in 2010.

It's anyone's guess which players from both teams will make the jump from USSF to MLS, though several will get a long look for sure. The coaches are on track for promotion, as Portland's Gavin Wilkinson is wearing two hats as the current MLS Timbers' technical director and Vancouver's Teitur Thordarson has been named the MLS Whitecaps' coach next season.

Both teams have two of the most devoted and passionate fan bases at any level of pro soccer on the continent, and their ranks will likely swell with the move to MLS. 

The two clubs have a history that dates back to the NASL in 1975. Vancouver is 32-23-9 all-time against Portland, 22-7-2 at home. 

In both cities, MLS-ready stadiums are being remodeled and season-ticket sales for 2011 are going well. But first, another chapter (or two) in the Portland-Vancouver derby needs to be written. 

This entry was posted in MLS- Portland Timbers, MLS- Seattle Sounders, MLS- Vancouver Whitecaps, USSF Division 2. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Timbers, Whitecaps end one era, look ahead to another

  1. bhags says:

    i most thankful we’ll never have to see the current Whitecaps logo again…U-G-L-Y!

  2. Will-SBI says:

    Yea, I was going to say…did they already unveil their new logo? I feel like Ives had a story on this a while back…? I do like the Timbers’ logo, and think they should keep it.

  3. Jose Romero says:

    New logos for MLS Whitecaps and Timbers have been unveiled, I just wanted to used the current USSF ones for posterity.

  4. Charles says:

    Does anyone know if Fox Sports Northwest is going to keep televising the Timber’s games.

    My hope is they do and that a Canadian TV station shown in Seattle picks up the Whitecap’s games.

    3 MLS games every week for Seattle, 1/3 of the teams !

    On top of that Jose will blog about all three on SBI…

  5. Charles says:

    In the pretty cool catagory…

    Seattle Sounders have played the Vancouver Whitecaps 111 times and the Portland Timbers 60 times.

    even cooler, Seattle has winning records against both.

  6. Kejsare says:

    Most damning, they had a lower average attendance than the other two.

  7. ericJ says:

    How is that the most damning?

  8. Scott says:

    “Had” being the operative word.

  9. ericJ says:

    I am excited to see the talent that these two teams bring in for their first season…

  10. Charles says:

    Maybe, maybe ( I don’t think so during the Qwest years ) in USL, not in NASL though, I am doing this from memory, but the Sounders were usually second to only the Cosmos, although Vancouver used to draw close to 25k back then too.

    I think Vancouver is making a mistake by limiting attn. by reducing the stadium size.

    Portland isn’t nearly the draw that the Whitecaps and Sounders are. No question that the Portland stadium was the loudest away game this year, however. They have GREAT fans.

    2nd best in MLS, huh ACES ?!?!

  11. Kejsare says:

    A good record didn’t bring fans in SEA [yes, I was limiting myself to the D2 era]. A good record in POR didn’t bring fans, they grew when they sucked! I’m pointing out that for all their good records at D2 they never had the fan culture they do now. VAN and POR already have it.

    It was a ribbing that was worth a shot.

  12. Don says:

    Great to see Jose covering the Timbers and Whitecaps, as well as the Sounders.

  13. senevada says:

    ..or you can use this interweb thingy and watch every game.

  14. senevada says:

    at least the Timbers HAVE fans in USL before going up to MLS. Seattle’s entire fan base are MLS bandwagoners. But hey I guess it still counts in the stats.

  15. Kejsare says:

    The largest radio audience in Portland hears everyday “95.5, the Game. Home to the Blazers, Ducks, Seahawks, and Timbers.” Timbers are already a draw… No MLS needed.

  16. soundersfcfanboy says:

    Knocked the Cinders out of the USOC two years running. What has the Cinders won?

  17. ericJ says:

    So “MLS bandwagon” fans are not “real” fans? I don’t buy this argument…it sounds childish and unnecessarily exclusive.

  18. Kejsare says:

    How “cool” is it to bring up the Sounders in a Timbers/Whitecaps article? The response was met in kind.