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Timbers try to stop rival Whitecaps’ 8-game unbeaten streak

Apr 8, 2023; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN;  Vancouver Whitecaps FC defender Tristan Blackmon (6) battles for the ball against Portland Timbers forward Franck Boli (7) during the second half at BC Place. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Only once in their MLS history have the Vancouver Whitecaps had an unbeaten run longer than their current eight-game streak (3-0-5).

That was a 10-game run in 2021 that was stopped by their Cascadia Cup rivals, the Portland Timbers.

The Whitecaps (3-2-5, 14 points) hope to avoid a repeat when they travel to Portland (3-5-3, 12 points) on Saturday night.

Vancouver coach Vanni Sartini sounded confident.

“Again, I’m saying this like I’m a broken record; this year is going to be special. Because we have a very good team,” Sartini said.

The Whitecaps snapped a three-match goalless drought — including a CONCACAF Champions League match against Los Angeles FC — with a 3-2 victory last weekend against Minnesota United.

Brian White scored twice for Vancouver and substitute Simon Becher scored in the 56th minute — one minute after coming off the bench to replace White.

“In between minute 30 and minute 60 … we nearly scored seven goals, guys,” Sartini said. “In Italy we say ‘calcio champagne’ (Champagne football). That means they play like top, top, top performance.”

The Timbers played to a 2-2 draw with visiting Austin FC last weekend as old nemesis Will Bruin, who spent the previous six seasons with Seattle, scored the tying goal in second-half stoppage time.

Dario Zuparic (90th appearance) and Claudio Bravo (57th appearance) both scored their first goals for the Timbers last week, putting an end to the two longest streaks from the start of a career in franchise history.

“I thought we played well and had opportunities, but we couldn’t close the game out,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said. “We left the game lingering, and at the end, one cross towards the last minute of the game found Bruin and he scored.”

Both teams are coming off midweek games, as the Whitecaps defeated York 4-1 in the Canadian Championship and the Timbers lost 4-3 to Real Salt Lake in the U.S. Open Cup.

Vancouver defeated visiting Portland 1-0 on April 8 in MLS play as White scored in the 74th minute.

–Field Level Media

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