Whitecaps at Timbers
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Providence Park.
TV / radio: ROOT Sports / AM 750.
Timbers match notes: At 2-3-3, the Timbers rank ninth in the Western Conference in points per game — but are just one point below the fifth-place playoff cutoff. This is the second of three matches against the Whitecaps this season and the first of two at Providence Park. On March 28 in Vancouver, the Whitecaps won 2-1 on Robert Ernshaw’s stoppage-time goal. Portland had 66 percent of possession and all seven corner kicks in that match.
“I hope we play in a similar way but make a few more plays,” Timbers coach Caleb Porter said.
• In addition to the return of Diego Valeri, winger Rodney Wallace will also be available after being sidelined for two weeks. The status of Dairon Asprilla (hand) will be a game-day decision. … Will Johnson will not return this week, but will play in Sunday’s T2 home match.
• Saturday is the 40th anniversary of the first match in Timbers history, a 1-0 loss to visiting Seattle on May 2, 1975 in front of 8,131 fans (including this reporter).
• Portland is 0-2 in Cascadia Cup matches, road losses to Vancouver and Seattle. The Timbers next three matches are on the road and they don’t play at home again until May 27.
Whitecaps match notes: Vancouver (5-3-1) leads the Western Conference with 16 points. It has scored 11 goals and given up nine. … The Whitecaps will be without suspended defensive midfielder Matias Laba, one of their most consistent players. And the health of Caps right back Steven Beitashour is in doubt. … Octavio Rivero has a team-high five goals for Vancouver and Pedro Morales has a team-high three assists.
• Look for Vancouver to focus on denying space for the Timbers attack and to try to strike on counter-attack and/or set pieces.
“They make the game tough because they’re organized defensively and then they find chances on counter attacks and set pieces,” Porter said.