Last Saturday, the Portland Timbers faced their toughest test of the 2017 season against Sporting Kansas City — and were handed a lesson in a 1-0 defeat.
This Saturday, the Timbers — minus a suspended Fanendo Adi — will look to get back to their winning ways as the Vancouver Whitecaps make their first visit of the year to Providence Park (1:00 PM, TV on KPTV).
After the Timbers ended Vancouver's 2015 season en route to MLS Cup, the Whitecaps exacted a measure of revenge last season by shuttering Portland's 2016 campaign on the final day of the regular season at BC Place.
That game, the last time these teams have met in any competition, was one of the Timbers' lowest moments as an MLS club. Portland came into that game needing a win to qualify for the playoffs and reclaim the Cascadia Cup, but were blown out 4-0 by a Whitecaps team with nothing to play for.
The Timbers also lost in Vancouver last May, with Nat Borchers' early goal overturned by two second half Whitecaps goals on which Jake Gleeson was at fault.
Vancouver trip to Portland last season yielded a better result for the Timbers. Portland snapped a three-game losing streak that started with that game at BC Place last May but thrashing the 'Caps 4-2 in what would be Pa Modou Kah's final professional outing.
Last year was the first season in which Vancouver had a winning record against the Timbers, who have mostly owned their northern rivals since the pair entered MLS together in 2011. There's plenty of familiarity between these two teams, which tend to see each other at least four times each season.
The Timbers will, unhappily, be without Fanendo Adi this weekend. The big man was the victim of a surprising suspension from the MLS Disciplinary Committee, which penalized Adi for an elbow last weekend on Sporting KC's Ike Opara.
Adi was whistled for a foul on the play by referee Dave Fischer, but was not given a card. Opara wasn't hurt by the elbow — which came after he wrapped Adi up in a battle that raged all game long — and the Timbers could very well feel hard done by the suspension.
Without Adi, former Whitecap Darren Mattocks seems most likely to start up top on Saturday. Mattocks hasn't yet started this season, but was one of the Timbers' brightest players down the stretch in 2016. Jeremy Ebobisse could be in line to make his Timbers debut off the bench.
The Timbers likely will, in a bit of good news, welcome captain Liam Ridgewell back to the lineup for the first time since Opening Day. Ridgewell has been back in training since before the Kansas City game, and the Timbers — with just one clean sheet in their first seven games — need to get him back on the field.
Roy Miller, serving as the team's left center back, seems likely to make way for Ridgewell — even though there's a credible case to be made that he's outplayed Lawrence Olum over the last month.
Caleb Porter has a decision to make at left back, where Marco Farfan got the nod over a healthy Vytas last weekend and had his roughest MLS outing against SKC. If Farfan starts again this week, Vytas might want to start looking for a new club.
Vancouver, meanwhile, after a very poor start to the season, is coming off of two big home wins. The 'Caps beat the LA Galaxy two weeks ago, and got a Cascadia Cup win over Seattle last Friday night.
The man who powered Vancouver to that victory, Fredy Montero, has a very good record at Providence Park dating back to his time in the early part of the decade with the Sounders. This will be his first game in Portland since returning to MLS in the offseason.
90 - Gleeson
5 - Vytas
24 - Ridgewell (C)
13 - Olum
2 - Powell
20 - Guzman
21 - Chara
6 - Nagbe
8 - Valeri
10 - Blanco
11 - Mattocks
The Whitecaps are due for a letdown, and the Timbers' offense won't be cold for a second straight week. All signs point to a big day for the home team. 3-1 Portland.