'Caps and Timbers play for tradition

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While the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers haven't had much success in their first season in MLS, their addition to the league has renewed an old rivalry.

The Whitecaps visit the Timbers on Saturday night as they continue to vie for the Cascadia Cup.

This is the first meeting between the expansion teams in MLS play, although their rivalry dates back to the North American Soccer League, which started in 1968.

Fans of Vancouver, Portland and Seattle would later develop the Cascadia Cup, awarded to the winner of the head-to-head league matches between the three teams, based on a point system.

Vancouver won the first Cascadia Cup in 2004 and also took it in 2005 and '08, when all three teams were part of the United Soccer Leagues First Division. Portland has never won the trophy when all three teams were a part of the same league.

Seattle is the most successful of the three Pacific Northwest rivals at 11-5-9, while the two expansion clubs are sitting near the bottom of the standings. Portland (7-12-5) comes in on a three-game winless streak while Vancouver (3-12-9) has the league's worst record and is 0-9-4 on the road.

The resumption of their long series, however, has created motivation for the two teams despite their records.

"We can treat this as a mini-season and it can be positive no matter how the rest of the season goes," Vancouver defender Wes Knight told

Seattle leads the Cascadia Cup standings with five points while Vancouver and Portland have one apiece. The Whitecaps have played two fewer games than the Sounders while the Timbers have one in hand on Seattle.

Vancouver is coming off a 4-0 loss to D.C. last Saturday as it gave up four goals for the second time in three games. Jay Nolly struggled in his second straight start after regaining his starting role, giving up a goal in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

"Those are the crucial moments when teams need to shut the door," coach Tom Soehn said. "If we went in 0-0 at the half, it would have been a good result and would have forced them to open up. But letting one in like that gave them confidence and put us on our heels."

Portland returns home after going 0-2-1 on its road trip. The Timbers scored three goals during the swing, closing it out with a 3-1 loss to Sporting KC on Wednesday, their second straight defeat.

Portland was outshot 15-7 and trailed 3-0 before Bright Dike's goal late in the second half.

The Timbers hope to make a playoff push despite sitting seventh in the West with 26 points. They are five behind New York, which holds the final spot in the wild-card race.

"It just comes to desire," Dike said, "how much we want it for the rest of the season. We're not by any stretch out of the playoffs."

Portland plays its next two games at home.

The Timbers acquired midfielder Eric Alexander in a trade with FC Dallas on Friday in exchange for midfielder/defender Jeremy Hall. Alexander has spent his first two seasons with Dallas, playing in 39 matches with 28 starts.

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