VANCOUVER, BC - Since joining Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2011, there has been no shortage of support from fans for Vancouver Whitecaps FC. That support carries over to road games as well, where the ‘Caps have had a contingent of fans at all eight of their away games during the 2012-13 season.
Last weekend the Blue and White rewarded their fans with their first victory on the road lversus New York Red Bulls, 2-1. Now the ‘Caps take that momentum to Seattle as they travel to face the Sounders in a Cascadia Cup derby; a win would be the first consecutive road wins in franchise history. And it won't just be the team traveling either.
CenturyLink Field is a tough place to play at, especially when the Sounders open up the entire stadium to their fans, which is the case Saturday. The Sounders boast a record of 6W-0L-2D in games featuring a crowd of more than 40,000, so a Vancouver victory over their rivals would be more than a little sweet.
The ‘Caps not only have to overcome Seattle’s home-field advantage, they have yet to beat the Sounders in an MLS regular season game (0W-2L-3D) since entering the league in 2011.
Thankfully, a group of approximately 1,100 ‘Caps’ fans are confirmed to make the trip down to Seattle to invade CenturyLink Field, and several hundred more fans are expected to make the trip too; making it the largest travelling contingent for the club thus far in the 2013 campaign.
During Cascadia Cup matches contested between the ‘Caps, the Sounders and Portland Timbers, MLS requires the home team to allocate 1,500 seats to away supporters. Due to the ‘Caps making two trips down to Seattle this season, those 1,500 seats have been divided in two, with 1,100 being allocated for this first match.
Head coach Martin Rennie acknowledged the pivotal impact that fans have on the players when he met with the media after training Tuesday.
“The fans are fantastic, I don’t know if many teams have that but we have it at almost every stadium we’ve gone to. I think it gives the players a lift right away when they see fans there,” said Rennie.
“Going down to Seattle we’ll have a much bigger group, I’m sure they’ll be excited about that as we are too.”
Rennie also applauded the fans for being patient with the club as it progresses towards a playoff push in the second half of the season.
“They know we’re building a club, they know it takes time; they know we’ve got ups and downs that we’ve got to go through. They stick with us and that makes life a lot easier.
Defender Jordan Harvey is excited to play in front of a packed house on Saturday night, as they look forward to taking three points from a Sounders team that could be missing as many as six key players due to international duty and injuries.
“I know Seattle’s missing a lot of guys but they’re still going to have their fans behind them and home field advantage, hopefully we can just weather that storm,” said the left back. “It’s Seattle, it’s 40,000. We’re up for it, it’s another road game, we know we can win on the road now so we need to do it.”
Heading into Saturday’s match, Vancouver sit four points out of the fifth and final playoff spot, currently possessed by Colorado Rapids, and only two points behind the Sounders for sixth spot.
A win would truly be another milestone moment in the early MLS history of Whitecaps FC, and a moment that would be shared with many happy 'Caps fans in attendance.