The Portland Timbers are languishing down towards the foot of the Western Conference, but Giovanni Savarese insists the spirit in the group is good.

Portland face a huge trip north to face the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend in a Cascadia Cup match that puts 12th against 13th in the West.

But while Vancouver claimed their first win of 2022 by beating Sporting Kansas City last time out, Portland are winless in three games and were defeated by the LA Galaxy at home.

“Coming from a game that didn’t feel good, a game in which we had a lot to analyze and we now prepare for Vancouver, another difficult game in MLS, every game is competitive no matter who you play, and we know this will be a strong match,” said Savarese.

“The morale, the spirit in this team is in a strong place, understanding that we’re not happy where we are and we just have to continue to work. There’s things that we need to do better.”

Vancouver striker Brian White, meanwhile, knows how much is riding on the derby, which is the 100th meeting between the sides.

He said: “Tactics don’t really change home or away, a lot of it comes down to our fans, having their support throughout the game. It’s great to have a couple of home games to hopefully get another win.

“It’s an important game, especially because it’s at home against Portland. This game and the ones against Seattle are big for the Cascadia Cup so there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the game to come out with some points.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vancouver Whitecaps – Ryan Raposo

Ryan Raposo got the winner against Sporting, and also created two chances, impressing from his position at left wing-back.

Portland Timbers – Sebastian Blanco

Savarese wants his team to be more clinical up front and that will involved playmaker Sebastian Blanco being more efficient. He created two chances against the Galaxy and had three shots, but only got one on target.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Including playoffs, none of the last 16 meetings between Vancouver and Portland have ended in a draw (Van W7, Por W9). It’s the second-longest active draw-less run in MLS (Whitecaps vs Real Salt Lake – 17 straight), while it is the longest such run for the Timbers against a single team in their MLS history.

– The Whitecaps’ 1-0 win over Kansas City on Saturday extended their home unbeaten run to seven games (W5 D2). Since returning to BC Place in August, Vancouver has the best home record in MLS (W8 D2 L1), with its only defeat in that time coming against Portland in September.

– The Timbers have been shown three red cards in their first six games of the season, including in each of their last two games. Portland was shown a total of three red cards in the 2020 and 2021 seasons combined. The Timbers have never had a player sent off in three straight MLS matches.

– The Whitecaps have scored an MLS-low one goal from outside the box since the start of last season, a Russell Teibert goal in October 2021. Vancouver has yet to even hit a shot on target from outside the box in 2022, missing the goal with all 15 attempts.

– Bill Tuiloma scored an own goal, then followed it up with a free kick goal for the Timbers against the Galaxy on Sunday. Tuiloma is the third player since the start of last season to score both a goal and an own goal in a single MLS match, while one of the other two was also a Timbers player (C. Paredes).