BRITISH COLUMBIA

Vancouver Whitecaps eager to bring road success home against Portland Timbers

03/27/2015 01:50 EDT | Updated 05/27/2015 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Whitecaps have found themselves tied 0-0 late on the road twice already this season, and keeping the score that way probably would have suited the club just fine in years past.

But something's different early in 2015.

The Whitecaps won both games in dramatic fashion and look to continue a hot start to the Major League Soccer schedule Saturday when they return home to face the Portland Timbers.

New striker Octavio Rivero scored in the 86th minute against the Chicago Fire on March 14. Seven days later his goal in the 96th minute against Orlando City SC provided another stunning victory.

The results have the Whitecaps brimming with confidence as they head into their first matchup against a Western Conference opponent.

"Guys are stepping in and doing a great job," Vancouver defender Steven Beitashour said this week. "You go back to last year, we might get a clean sheet but we might not get that victory.

"Last year I think we might have tied those (games), but this year we kept pushing."

The Whitecaps want to transfer the early road success — Vancouver didn't record its first win away from B.C. until May 10 last year — to B.C. Place Stadium, where it suffered its only loss this season 3-1 to Toronto FC to open the 2015 season.

"It's important to get home and continue what we did on the road," said goalkeeper David Ousted. "I think we need to have the same kind of mentality.

"We need to be defensively sound, and from there go and attack. We all know we can attack, we all know we can create chances. It needs to be a balance."

Against the Timbers, the Whitecaps face a regional rival that tied its first three games this season but is 3-0-2 in Vancouver in MLS play, including three shutouts.

Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson has trumpeted his squad's increased talent level and its depth will be tested this weekend. Among the players unavailable against Portland are striker/midfielder Kekuta Manneh (suspension), striker Darren Mattocks (international duty), midfielder Russell Tiebert (international duty), midfielder Mauro Rosales (injured), defender Sam Adekugbe (injured) and defender Diego Rodriguez (suspended).

"It's going to be a very difficult game for us," said Robinson. "We're down to our bare bones.

"We've got a lot of players missing. We've got injuries, we've got suspensions, we've got international players so it's going to be very difficult against a very good Portland team.

"We're under no illusions, but we'll be ready. We'll have smiles on our faces."

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