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Timbers reach for stranglehold on Cascadia Cup, face Whitecaps

Jul 9, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Portland Timbers forward Jaroslaw Niezgoda (11) shakes hands with midfielder Sebasti  n Blanco (10) after scoring a goal against the Seattle Sounders FC during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

During the 2020 Major League Soccer season, when pandemic-related restrictions closed the U.S.-Canada border, the Vancouver Whitecaps played home games at Providence Park in Portland, Ore.

So they’ll be familiar with the surroundings Sunday night when they meet the host Portland Timbers.

The Whitecaps won in their last trip to Portland, 3-2, in October.

The Timbers (6-6-8, 26 points) and Whitecaps (7-9-4, 25 points) sit just below the playoff line in the Western Conference.

Wednesday, the Whitecaps rallied for a 2-2 draw at FC Cincinnati on Cristian Dajome’s goal in the 82nd minute. Ryan Gauld also scored.

“It’s a very good response,” Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini said. “And I’m proud of the team. I’m proud of the guys. I’m proud of the effort that they put in. That’s going to give (an) engine to go to Portland. It’s a derby; they beat us at Vancouver. We’re gonna beat them there.”

Portland won in Vancouver, 3-2, on April 9 this season, and then gained control of the Cascadia Cup standings last weekend by drilling the Sounders, 3-0, in Seattle. A victory over the Whitecaps would nearly clinch the Cascadia Cup for Portland, which has not won the trophy since 2017.

After a terrible start this season, when they won just two of their first 11 games, the Timbers are unbeaten in five (3-0-2). Jaroslaw Niezgoda had a goal and assist for the Timbers, who scored twice in the final 10 minutes to put away the short-handed Sounders.

Santiago Moreno converted a penalty kick in the 82nd minute. It was the fourth consecutive game in which the Timbers scored from the spot, a league record.

Portland will be without midfielder Eryk Williamson, who is suspended for the match due to yellow-card accumulation.

“First of all, the most important thing is the three points at home, for us to continue to climb in the table,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “I’ve always said I want us to be competitive in everything that is available for us to earn, to win and to take. Cascadia Cup is one of them. … This match has something more into it that gives us motivation to play.”

–Field Level Media