Portland, OR – Vancouver Whitecaps FC does not have a lot to play for at this point in the Major League Soccer season.
With the fewest points in all of MLS, just 18 from 24 games, the 'Caps are a virtual lock to miss the playoffs.
But on Saturday, Vancouver will play arguably its most important game of the season, facing the Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field in the latest installment of the Cascadia Cup.
A win in Portland would help salvage what has otherwise been a miserable debut season for Vancouver.
"This is about bragging rights between [Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle Sounders FC]," Whitecaps defender Wes Knight told MLSsoccer.com. "The type of statement we gave down in Seattle for the Cascadia Cup, tying the game 2-2 - I mean we have to carry that momentum here and take pride in winning silverware. We can treat this as a mini-season and it can be a positive no matter how the rest of the season goes."
Vancouver midfielder Peter Vagenas spent the last two MLS seasons playing for Seattle, and he echoed Knight's sentiments about the importance and prestige of the Pacific Northwestern rivalry.
"I've seen some things that I never thought I would see in this country," Vagenas told MLSsoccer.com. "I think [the Cascadia rivalry] is something to be cherished. It's something our league can use to grow, and in terms of MLS, this Pacific Northwest thing they've got going is second to none."
Vancouver was trounced by D.C. United in its most recent MLS outing, losing 4-0 at RFK Stadium.
With the loss, the Whitecaps are still searching for their first road win of the season, posting a 0-9-4 record away from Empire Field.
They will face a Timbers side that has impressed at Jeld-Wen throughout the season. In their last home match, the Timbers topped the league-leading Los Angeles Galaxy 3-0 in a dominating display.
The Timbers sit in seventh place in the Western Conference with 26 points from 24 matches.