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  • Toronto v Portland - just who is the lesser of the two evils?

    Michael Mccoll

    Just in case you've been living under a rock for the past year, here's a quick refresher. The CSA have deemed that the Voyageurs Cup will be competed for later in the season from next year, so whichever Canadian club finishes highest in the MLS standings this season will represent Canada in next year's Champions League. Which does feel like the only way the Whitecaps will claim that honour sometimes!

    Vancouver and Toronto are currently level on points in the standing, but not only do TFC have a game in hand, they also have the most wins tiebreaker right now.

    If both teams were to win out (I know, I amuse myself sometimes), then that would see Toronto claim the spot. So a TFC win tomorrow makes achieving that goal slightly more difficult with the games running out.

    Now if you were to ask me to pick between just one of the options, the Whitecaps in the playoffs or the Whitecaps in next year's Champions League, what would I pick? What would you pick? What would Carl Robinson pick?

    In reality it's likely that if they make the playoffs, the points they've massed will also mean they clinch the Champions League spot too. I think that's what it's going to take. But if I was only allowed one, well, when I first thought about writing this article I thought my answer would be the playoffs every day of the week. But then I got thinking. If the Whitecaps make the playoffs, they face an away game in Dallas or Real Salt Lake and realistically are going to go one and out.

    So you're qualifying for just one game and possibly a quick disappointment. Qualifying for the Champions League gets you six more games at least, a Cup competition to go for and some valuable experience and minutes for Vancouver's younger and fringe players.

    It's a tough one.

    Of course, you then also have to look at what the likelihood of both scenarios happening will be? Will the Whitecaps even make the playoffs this year, not even looking at any other factor? Right back Steven Beitashour is certainly full of confidence.

    "It's two points," Beitashour answered incredulously when he was asked at training on Thursday if the Whitecaps still had a chance at making the playoffs. It was a bizarre question. "Five games, 15 points out there," he continued. "Two points. There's no way they're going five for five, so there's going to be a lot of points out there to grab and it starts on Saturday."

    "What they do doesn't affect us if we don't just win. We just try and control our own thing. At the end of the day we have five games to go, we know that, but we can't look past Salt Lake."

    The Toronto-Portland game kicks off at 10am PT. An ungodly hour for football and likely right in the middle of the Ryder Cup winding up for the day. Typically selfish east coast bastards. On the plus side though, it does mean that the game will finish four hours before Vancouver kicks off their crucial game with Real Salt Lake.

    The Whitecaps will know what the Timbers will have done and whether they're looking at closing a five point gap or facing the chance to get above the red line again. Will they be watching?

    Russell Teibert won't be until later, but he knows which scenario he's rooting for in the game.

    "I'll watch the Portland-Toronto game after the fact," Teibert said. "I won't pay no mind to it before. We know we can only control what we can control and that's our game, our match, that's our individual performances, that's how we play as a team. We can't control what Portland does but I'll give my boys from Portland a little shout and hopefully they'll do us a favour.

    "We know that even if [Portland] lose, if we don't win it doesn't mean anything. We need to go out, we need to perform, we need to win the game."

    So the players at least know that watching and relying on other teams slipping up or other teams do us favours doesn't count for much if they don't get the job done themselves over the next five "cup finals"

    The Ontario lad is cheering on TFC to do the Caps a favour and coach Carl Robinson is also hoping for the same from his old team.

    "Maybe Defoe's back and he can bang in four more goals," Robinson joked yesterday before continuing the same message as his players.

    "Listen, we need to concentrate on our own business. We didn't take care of our own business last week because we weren't at our levels that we need to be barring the first 20 minutes, so we've got to get back to that."

    The Whitecaps are looking for a Toronto win. Me? Well I'm cheering for an asteroid strike, the stretcher-bearers and failing that either a draw with injuries to key personnel or an absolute thumping of the Timbers by TFC.

    Even after all this, it could still come down to goal difference, and as we all sadly know, goals are exactly Vancouver's strong suit right now.

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