Jonny Leathers and Omar Salgado battle for the ball

Whitecaps FC prepare for first Seattle meeting of 2011

Looking to build on Tuesday's victory over Real Salt Lake, Vancouver Whitecaps FC return to preseason action when they take on Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC at Grande Sports World in Casa Grande, Arizona, on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. PT.

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Despite being together for less than two weeks, Teitur Thordarson's squad showed signs of a polished unit on Tuesday, as goals by Canadians Russell Teibert and Terry Dunfield gave the Blue and White a productive result in the 135-minute contest versus RSL. They face a Sounders FC side that are preparing for their third season in MLS, with the Washington State outfit looking to become an MLS Cup contender after bowing out in the first round of the league playoffs the last two years.

"There's always a certain rivalry between these two clubs, which is good to have," Thordarson told "We are playing a good team in Seattle, who are in a similar situation as us. They have some trialists and some new players, so I expect them to play some of those players tomorrow. We'll be looking to play all of our players in the game, and I'm expecting to see some of the things that we saw against Real Salt Lake on Tuesday."

Vancouver's focus can now turn to one of their big rivals in Sounders FC, with Friday's 105-minute training match set to be played in three periods of 35 minutes each. As with Tuesday's game, the three-period format will allow the two Cascadia rivals to look and assess a large number of players that have been brought into camp. Thordarson has an almost full compliment of players available for Friday's game. Only MLS SuperDraft pick Jeb Brovsky and midfielder/striker Cornelius Stewart missed Thursday's training session.

Friday's match is the first-ever meeting between Vancouver and Seattle as MLS rivals, and the fourth preseason encounter between these Pacific Northwest foes since Sounders FC became an MLS club in 2009. Seattle have a more favourable record to this stage, having first claimed a convincing 4-0 win over Whitecaps FC in a closed-door friendly at Seattle's Qwest Field on February 22, 2009. Last year, both teams met at Grande Sports World, with Sounders FC defeating Vancouver 3-2 on February 11, 2010. Their last encounter came at Swangard Stadium on March 6, 2010, as both sides played to a 0-0 draw.

Though Friday's match may be low key in nature, the anticipation for this rivalry is growing, with Whitecaps FC and Portland Timbers joining Seattle in MLS this season. A good indicator of how special and unique this long-standing rivalry will become again is the high level of interest in the preseason Cascadia Summit event in Tukwila, Washington, early next month. Taking place at the Starfire Sports Complex, the 'Caps will play the Timbers on Saturday, March 5, and Sounders FC on Sunday, March 6. Demand for the event has already seen tickets sell out for Seattle's Summit game with Portland on Friday, March 4, as well as Sunday's contest between the 'Caps and Sounders FC.


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