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Marc Dos Santos admitted he has been left frustrated by a disrupted pre-season as Vancouver Whitecaps prepare for their 2021 MLS opener against Portland Timbers.

The Whitecaps finished a disappointing 17th in the overall standings last time out and have struggled to get all their players together during the close-season.

Coronavirus restrictions, international call-ups, injuries and visa issues have plagued Vancouver, who are having to train and play games in Utah for the foreseeable future.

But Dos Santos is hopeful the numerous interruptions could ultimately help his side in the long run.

"My frustration is not having everyone here, together, working together. That's frustrating as a coach," he said. "But it's things we have to deal with."

"When you have so many guys that are not in, it also gives you a picture and an idea of how much our team can improve in the process of getting everybody ready to play.

"This season will present challenges but we've been through so much as a team from last year up until now that we can take any challenge and turn it into a good experience."

Portland are first up for Vancouver and have already played a couple of Champions League games this season, beating Honduran side Marathon 7-2 on aggregate in the last 16.

They have a quick turnaround between that continental clash and Sunday's showdown with the Whitecaps, but Giovanni Savarese will use that to his side's advantage.

"They will be well prepared and our main focus is on this game, which we know will be difficult," he said.

"The reality is we have already played two matches and that gives us a chance to make a competitive start to the MLS season.

"We're going to have to take it one game at a time. It was only on Thursday that we could turn focus to this match, but we will be ready."

Vancouver Whitecaps - Lucas Cavallini

Cavallini was signed from Puebla for a club-record fee ahead of last season and scored six goals in 18 league fixtures for the Whitecaps. The Canada international bagged a hat-trick for his national side against Cayman Islands last month and netted a couple of times for Vancouver during pre-season, so he enters this game in good form.

Portland Timbers - Yimmi Chara

Colombia international Chara was in inspired form to help the Timbers brush aside Marathon earlier this week, scoring three of his side's five goals in the second leg. With a number of players ruled out through injury, this is Chara's chance to take center stage.

-- The Timbers have won three straight matches against Vancouver, equaling their longest winning streak over the Whitecaps (three in a row in 2017). This run comes immediately after the Whitecaps had won three straight games against the Timbers, from 2018 to 2019.

-- The Whitecaps set an MLS record by winning their first four season-opening matches from 2011 to 2014. Since then, however, they have managed just one win in six curtain raisers (D1, L4), including losing the last two.

-- No team outperformed their xG more than the Timbers last season, scoring 46 goals on an xG of 33.2 in the regular season (+12.8). It was the largest over-performance of xG in a single season since Montreal was +13.9 (52 vs 38.1) in the 2017 campaign.

-- The Whitecaps averaged 8.48 shots per match last season, a full shot fewer than any other MLS team in 2020. Vancouver scored just two headed goals last season, only FC Cincinnati (one) scored fewer.

-- Portland was dominant in the air last season, scoring an MLS-high 13 headed goals in the regular season, four more than any other team. Two of the three players with at least three headed goals last season were Timbers (Jaroslav Niezgoda - four, Jeremy Ebobisse - three, Chicago Fire's Robert Beric - three).

Updated April 17, 2021

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