Preview: Vancouver Whitecaps FC off to Seattle for massive midweek Cascadia Cup derby

Playoff hopes on the line Wednesday at CenturyLink Field

VANCOUVER, BC – After a thrilling 2-2 draw with Portland Timbers Sunday at BC Place, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (11W-11L-9D) are right back at it Wednesday evening in another Cascadia derby – this time against Supporters Shield contenders Seattle Sounders FC (15W-9L-6D) at CenturyLink Field.  

Kickoff for Wednesday's match between Seattle and Vancouver is set for 7 p.m. PT and is live on TSN2 and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match.

Going into Wednesday’s contest, Whitecaps FC are six points out of a playoff position with three matches remaining in the regular season.

To qualify for the postseason, the 'Caps will likely have to overtake either LA Galaxy or Colorado Rapids, who are currently fourth and fifth in the Western Conference with 48 points apiece. The ‘Caps meet Colorado twice in a home and home series to end the season.

As for the Cascadia Cup standings, Whitecaps FC currently slot in at second place – just one point behind Seattle. The Sounders would be crowned champions with a win or draw on Wednesday. In order for Whitecaps FC to win the trophy, they would need a win against Seattle coupled with a draw or Portland victory when the Timbers meet the Sounders Saturday in Portland.

Last match: Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2-2 Portland Timbers 

WHITECAPS FC

Just a few short days ago, the ‘Caps and Timbers played to a hard-fought 2-2 draw in one of the most entertaining matches at BC Place to date.

After a slow start, Darlington Nagbe opened the scoring for the Timbers in the 41st minute – setting up a frantic second half that saw three goals scored in as many minutes.

MLS Player of the Week Camilo equalized in the 76th minute with his third free kick goal of the season, before Canadian Will Johnson regained the lead for Portland just a minute later. Not to be outdone, the Brazilian striker brought the crowd to its feet with a brilliant scissor-kick tally in the 78th minute to level the game a second time.

The goal, which brings Camilo’s total to 18 on the season, will no doubt be the frontrunner for MLS Goal of the Week and likely even Goal of the Year.

The ‘Caps came close to scoring a winner in stoppage time, as Kekuta Manneh and Young-Pyo Lee tested Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts with a pair of quality strikes from dangerous areas, but the Jamaican shot-stopper stood tall to help Portland earn a share of the points.

A win against Seattle could move Whitecaps FC to within three points of the final playoff position. On the other hand, an outright loss coupled with a Colorado win or draw against San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday would officially eliminate the 'Caps from playoff contention.

Martin Rennie will be forced to make at least one change to his starting lineup on Wednesday, as striker Darren Mattocks joined the Jamaican national team earlier this week in advance of Friday’s World Cup qualifier against the United States. Honduran centre back Johnny Leveron is also unavailable due to international duty.

On the injury front, striker Kenny Miller has missed the last two matches with an adductor strain, while defender Brad Rusin (right ankle sprain) and winger Omar Salgado (right foot fracture), who trained on Monday, continue to recover from their respective injuries.  

Last match: Colorado Rapids 5-1 Seattle Sounders FC

SOUNDERS FC

Seattle will no doubt be hoping for a bounce back game Wednesday against Whitecaps FC after suffering a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Colorado this past weekend in Commerce City.   

Rapids rookie Deshorn Brown scored the second fastest goal in MLS history, just 14 seconds into the match, and the Rapids added three more tallies before halftime en route to the convincing victory.

The loss snapped a seven-match unbeaten run for Seattle, who trail Western Conference leaders Real Salt Lake by just one point and Supporters Shield frontrunners New York Red Bulls by two points.  

Striker Eddie Johnson scored Seattle’s lone goal against Colorado in the 63rd minute. It was his team-leading ninth goal of the season.   

The Sounders will be without Johnson on Wednesday, however, as he and midfielder Brad Evans were both called up to the United States national team for their upcoming World Cup qualifiers. Designated Player Clint Dempsey, also a regular for the United States, was left off the squad as he continues to recover from a hamstring strain that has kept him out of the last three matches.

Dempsey and fellow Designated Player Obafemi Martins, who has been battling a groin issue, both trained in full on Monday, but their availability for Wednesday’s match remains unclear at this point.

Like Martins and Dempsey, midfielder Steve Zakuani and defenders Djimi Traore and Leo Gonzalez also missed last weekend’s match against Colorado, but could be ready to play by Wednesday.

With a win against Whitecaps FC, the Sounders would officially clinch a playoff berth.  

July 6, 2013: Whitecaps FC 2 - 0 Sounders FC

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Wednesday’s contest will be the third and final meeting between Vancouver and Seattle this season. Back in June, Lamar Neagle scored a late winner to give Seattle a 3-2 victory at CenturyLink Field after a first-half Camilo brace had Vancouver ahead 2-1 at the half.

The ‘Caps earned their first-ever Cascadia victory in MLS the following month with a 2-0 victory over Seattle July 6 at BC Place. A first-half goal from Miller and a late second-half tally from Mattocks provided the scoring.

Since joining MLS, Whitecaps FC have a 1W-3L-3D record versus their arch-rivals from Seattle. There is also a rich history between the two sides when they competed in the old North American Soccer League (NASL) as well as the United Soccer Leagues First Division.

All time, the Sounders have a slim edge between the two sides with a 57W-43L-18D record.

NEXT UP

Following Wednesday’s fixture, Whitecaps FC will have just two matches remaining in the regular season – a home and home series with fifth-place Colorado. They visit Colorado October 19 at Dick’s Sporting Good Park before hosting the Rapids in their regular season finale October 27 at BC Place.