Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps FC travel across the border to battle rivals Seattle Sounders FC
VANCOUVER, BC – Fresh off of their first road win of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-4L-4D) now visit rivals Seattle Sounders FC (5W-4L-3D) in a crucial match for Cascadia Cup bragging rights as well as for Western Conference seeding.
A win in Seattle would give the ‘Caps back-to-back road wins for the first time in their MLS history. Whitecaps FC also currently trail the Sounders by two points in the Western Conference table, therefore a win over their geographical rivals would catapult the ‘Caps into sole possession of sixth place in the West.
Over 50,000 tickets have already been sold for Saturday’s Cascadia battle at CenturyLink Field, including over 1,100 Whitecaps FC fans making the cross-border trek. This weekend’s tilt will be played on a temporary grass surface, which has been installed for the United States men’s national team game against Panama on Tuesday.
Saturday's match between Whitecaps FC and Seattle Sounders FC kicks off at 7:30 p.m. PT and is live on TSN in Canada, NBC Sports Network in the United States, Bell mobile devices, and online at http://live.mlssoccer.com/mlsmdl/. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday night’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5:30 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match.
'Caps prepare for big match in Seattle
The ‘Caps are looking to build upon a gritty 2-1 come-from-behind victory against New York Red Bulls last weekend – their first comeback win on the road in MLS.
The Red Bulls drew first-blood in Saturday’s contest on an own goal off the foot of defender Greg Klazura – who was making his MLS debut. However, Vancouver equalized nine minutes later through Jordan Harvey’s first goal of the year. In the 75th minute, Red Bulls’ defender Jamison Olave was sent off for his second yellow card of the game. The ‘Caps then used their man advantage to take all three points from the Red Bulls thanks to a powerful Kenny Miller header in the 84th minute. When Miller starts for Martin Rennie’s side, they have a spotless record of 3W-0L-0D this season.
Vancouver now head to hostile territory as they go in search of their first ever victory over Seattle in MLS play.
Expect Harvey to get a second straight start at left back following Thursday’s trade sending Alain Rochat to D.C. United. Midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker also returns after missing the New York match with a suspension. Gershon Koffie is questionable for the match, the Ghanaian midfielder is recovering from a right quadripcep strain. The ‘Caps will still be without captain Jay DeMerit (ruptured Achilles tendon), winger Omar Salgado (foot fracture), and centre back Brad Rusin (calf strain), while striker Darren Mattocks is still away on international duty for Jamaica.
Last match: Chivas USA 0-2 Seattle Sounders FC
Seattle are also coming off of a road victory, a 2-0 result over Chivas USA last weekend, with goals coming from stiker Obafemi Martins and an own goal courtesy of Chivas USA’s Mario de Luna. The Sounders were able to win the match despite losing their all-star midfielder Osvaldo Alonso to a thigh injury and Martins to a red card in the 74th minute of the match.
Martins was initially suspended for this coming match due to his red card against Chivas, but the suspension was overturned this week, allowing him to play on Saturday against Vancouver.
Seattle could be missing as many as six players for Saturday night’s tilt: Brad Evans, Mario Martinez, and Eddie Johnson (international duty), Sharlie Joseph (suspension), Alonso (doubtful due to thigh injury) and Steve Zakuani (unlikely to play due to abdominal strain that has kept him out of MLS action since April 20th).
This will be the sixth MLS meeting between Vancouver and Seattle, and the 117th time these Interstate 5 rivals have met in a competitive contest.
The ‘Caps have yet to beat the Sounders in MLS. Since joining MLS, Whitecaps FC have a 0W-2L-2D record versus their arch-rivals from The Emerald City. Last year Vancouver had a 0W-1L-2D record against Seattle. In their first meeting of 2012 on May 19, Seattle held Vancouver to a 2-2 draw at BC Place. On August 18, Seattle won the second clash of 2012 by a 2-0 scoreline in front of 55,718 at CenturyLink Field. In the third meeting of 2012 on September 29, they played to a scoreless 0-0 draw at BC Place.
2012: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 0-0 Seattle Sounders FC
Prior to facing each other in MLS in 2011, Vancouver and Seattle met in no less than 111 competitive meetings between 1974 and 2008. The first 28 matches took place in the old North American Soccer League (NASL) between 1974 and 1983, with the 'Caps recording 17 wins and 11 defeats versus Sounders FC. Soccer fans in both cities then had to wait until 1994 for the rivalry to be renewed, with Sounders FC claiming the upper hand during their 83 meetings in the old United Soccer Leagues First Division. Between 1994 and 2008, Sounders FC recorded 43 wins, 25 defeats, and 15 draws versus Whitecaps FC. As a result, Sounders FC lead Whitecaps FC with an all-time record of 55 wins, 43 defeats, and 18 draws (116 games), though Whitecaps FC have a better overall home record of 26 wins, 24 defeats, and 10 draws versus Seattle (19W-29L-8D road record for Vancouver in Seattle).
There have been numerous connections between these two rivals. One interesting such connection involves Seattle midfielder Mauro Rosales and Whitecaps FC defender Young-Pyo Lee, who previously battled each other in the Dutch Eredivisie. Rosales played for AFC Ajax, while Lee played for rivals PSV Eindhoven. Additionally, Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie and Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid frequently communicated during their respective time in Ohio when Rennie was head coach at Cleveland City Stars and Schmid was head coach at Columbus Crew.
This match is also pivotal for both clubs in terms of Cascadia Cup bragging rights. A win from the ‘Caps would propel them into first place in the Cascadia Cup standings.
The Cascadia Cup is awarded to the club that has the best head-to-head record in MLS regular season matches between the ‘Caps, Sounders and Portland Timbers. The Timbers are currently first in the Cascadia Cup table with two points from two draws, while the Sounders and ‘Caps both have a point each from their respective match played versus Portland. There are still six matches to be contested between the three rivals after Saturday’s clash.
Following their Cascadia battle, Whitecaps FC head to face New England Revolution next Saturday, June 15. Kickoff for that match is set for 7 p.m. PT at BC Place.