Preview: Whitecaps FC set to host first-place Seattle Sounders FC in first Cascadia clash of 2014

'Caps begin defence of Cascadia Cup Saturday at BC Place

VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (MLS RS 4W-2L-4D -- CC 0W-0L-0D) will begin their defence of the Cascadia Cup on Saturday when they host first-place Seattle Sounders FC (MLS RS 8W-3L-1D -- CC 0W-0L-1D) at BC Place.

This will be Vancouver’s first of back-to-back Cascadia derbies – they’re off to Portland next weekend – and their last home match until June 25.

Kickoff for Saturday’s match is set for 4 p.m. PT at BC Place. You can watch the match live on TSN2, Bell mobile devices, and TSN GO. The match will also air live on TEAM 1410 and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 2 p.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show immediately following the match.

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC

Highlights: Columbus Crew 0-1 Vancouver Whitecaps FC

The 'Caps enter Saturday’s contest undefeated in four MLS matches, including back-to-back victories over San Jose Earthquakes and Columbus Crew. Their 1-0 victory over the Crew on May 10 was a momentous one, as it saw Erik Hurtado score his first professional goal and Vancouver claim their first road win of the season.

Hurtado scored again the following game in the second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship on semifinal, as Whitecaps FC handed Toronto FC a 2-1 defeat to level the aggregate score at 3-3. Ultimately, Toronto advanced to the Canadian Championship final on penalty kicks.

After playing four matches in the first two weeks of May, the 'Caps had a bye last weekend in advance of an important derby match with Seattle on Saturday.

“Arguably, they’re the best team at the moment in this conference, so it’s a good test for us,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters early this week. “But we’re at home, we know our supporters will be right behind us, and I’ll make sure the guys are right up for it. It’s a great test for us after 10 games to see where we are.”

The 'Caps are currently fourth in the Western Conference with 16 points – nine points shy of first-place Seattle (though the Sounders have played two more games).

On the injury front, Whitecaps FC striker Darren Mattocks has been out of action since suffering a left hamstring strain in Vancouver’s 3-2 win over San Jose on May 3. Robinson said it was possible that the Jamaican could be involved on Saturday, but he wouldn’t be rushed.

One player who won’t be in the lineup for sure is right back Steven Beitashour, one of 28 players participating in Iran’s World Cup camp. Nigel Reo-Coker, who played both Canadian Championship fixtures at right back, could get the call in his absence as right back Ethen Sampson is sidelined with a knee injury.

“He’s done great,” Robinson said of Reo-Coker. “I watched the game against Toronto again and 120 minutes and he was still getting forward and things like that. Nigel is still a big part of this squad.”

SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC

Highlights: Seattle Sounders FC 1-0 San Jose Earthquakes

As Robinson noted, Seattle has arguably been the top team in MLS this season. They have posted an 8W-3L-1D record and have won six of their last seven matches.

The only blip during that run came on May 11 when Sounders FC suffered a 5-0 loss to red-hot Eastern Conference side New England Revolution. But they responded this past weekend with a 1-0 win over San Jose Earthquakes.

Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins provided the scoring for Seattle on that day with a stunning chip that is up for MLS Goal of the Week. Martins, who was recently left off of Nigeria’s World Cup roster, has five goals and a league-high six assists this season.

And Martins will likely be the focal point again on Saturday, as his attacking partner Clint Dempsey is away with the U.S. men’s national team with teammate DeAndre Yedlin. Midfielder Brad Evans was left off the U.S. 23-man roster and could feature on Saturday. 

“It was great if he meant it,” Robinson said jokingly of Martins’ goal last weekend. “It’s super technique. He’s a super player, he really is. He’s in a run of form at the moment where he’s been a handful for a lot of teams. So we have to make sure we focus on him, but they have a lot of good players.”

HEAD-TO-HEAD

'Caps claim historic 4-1 win over Seattle on October 9, 2013

After going winless in their first two seasons, Vancouver won two of their three meetings with the Sounders in 2013. Their first win came at home in July, before Whitecaps FC cruised to a historic 4-1 win at CenturyLink Field in October.

Not only did that win end up clinching Vancouver’s first Cascadia Cup since joining MLS, it also saw rookie Kekuta Manneh become the youngest MLS player to record a hat-trick.

Since joining MLS, Whitecaps FC have posted a 2W-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 – in fact, both clubs are celebrating their 40th anniversary this season.

All time, Sounders FC have the edge between the two sides with a 57W-44L-18D record.

CASCADIA CUP

The Cascadia Cup: The Passion of the Pacific Northwest  

The Cascadia Cup is awarded to the Pacific Northwest club that has the best head-to-head record in MLS regular season matches between Vancouver, Portland, and Seattle.

Saturday’s contest will be Vancouver’s first Cascadia derby of the season – Seattle and Portland drew their first meeting 4-4.

After claiming their fourth title last season, the 'Caps are the most successful club in Cascadia Cup history. In addition to last season, the Blue and White hoisted the trophy 2004, 2005, and 2008.

NEXT UP

Saturday’s contest will be the first of back-to-back Cascadia derbies for Whitecaps FC, who are off to Portland on June 1 for a meeting with the Timbers. The ‘Caps then visit Philadelphia Union on June 7 before the league’s FIFA World Cup break. Their next home match isn’t until June 25 against Montreal Impact. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.

It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.