Vancouver, BC – Cascadia Cup action resumes on Saturday as the in-form Portland Timbers head to BC Place to take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Saturday's tilt in Vancouver will mark the second Cascadia Cup match of the season after Portland and Seattle Sounders FC played to a 1-1 draw at CenturyLink Field on March 16, a result that helped the Timbers get off to a strong start as it hopes to retain its trophy of regional dominance.
The Cascadia Cup was all Portland had to celebrate last term as the club finished second from bottom in the Western Conference with 34 points for the season.
But the new campaign has been quite rosy. Under the guidance of Caleb Porter, the Timbers have lost just once so far, accumulating 18 points through 11 matches to occupy second place in the West.
Portland has pieced together an MLS-franchise-best nine-match unbeaten run, but Porter stressed that his side will be overconfident.
"We're not where we want to be yet, which is what makes it scary, we can be even better," Porter the club's official website. "But this team is very grounded. As much as (MLSsoccer.com) tries to create headlines that make us cocky, we're not a cocky team. I'm not a cocky coach. I'm very humble, my players are very humble, we don't get too high or low, we don't talk trash."
The turnaround in the Rose City from last term to the present can be attributed to the change in culture initiated by Porter.
"What you see out of these guys is they're very hungry, they understand the purpose of what we're trying to do and they see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is obviously making the playoffs," he continued. "That's our goal, but they're also not forgetting about the little minor steps we have to take in every games."
Vancouver's form this season has not been quite as formidable as Portland's. The 'Caps opened the season with two straight victories only to follow it up with a seven-game winless run.
But Martin Rennie's side got back in the win column last weekend with a 3-1 statement victory over the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Russell Teibert bagged a brace in Vancouver's conquest to steal the headlines, but Darren Mattocks made a welcomed return to the scoresheet by nabbing just his second goal of the campaign.
"It was important for him," Nigel Reo-Coker told reporters at BC Place following Saturday's contest. "It's always important for strikers to score, especially after they go through a bit of a goal drought. ... I told Darren you've got to keep going, for 90 minutes you've got to keep going, your chance will come and you've got to take your chance.
"He took his chance and now hopefully that'll give him confidence he can get on a bit of a run now and get the momentum and the belief."
Even though the 'Caps have enjoyed eight different players making it to the scoresheet this season, seeing Mattocks find the back of the net on a consistent basis would do wonders for the club's playoff hopes.