Wrapping up a busy week of Major League Soccer action, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10W-8L-7D) head down Interstate 5 to take on Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC (10W-6L-7D) in an important Western Conference clash on Saturday afternoon.
After contrasting home results against conference foes Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas in the past week, Martin Rennie’s side will look to move up to third place in the west and top spot in the Cascadia Cup standings with a win over their arch-rivals from The Emerald City. The early Saturday afternoon contest is looking to be an historic day for both clubs and MLS, as an estimated crowd of around 55,000 is expected at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field. Included will be a large contingent of travelling Whitecaps FC fans to support the Blue and White in this derby clash.
In their first meeting of the season on May 19, Seattle held Vancouver to a 2-2 draw on Bell Pitch at BC Place. Whitecaps FC twice took the lead through Alain Rochat and Camilo Sanvezzo, but Sounders FC earned an away point with second-half goals from Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero.
Whitecaps FC versus Seattle Sounders FC from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington, is set for 1 p.m. PT and can be seen live on TSN2 and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to Saturday’s match live on TEAM 1410 radio and teamradio.ca, starting with the pre-game show at 11 a.m. PT. TEAM 1410 will also have a two-hour post-game show, which will begin following the match at around 3 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow Saturday’s match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
Not for the first time this season, Whitecaps FC are looking to bounce back from Wednesday’s disappointing 2-0 home defeat to FC Dallas. Rennie himself admitted that his side were not at their best that night, but they are now relishing the opportunity of putting that setback behind them and reaching the 40-point mark by claiming their first Cascadia Cup victory as an MLS club this weekend. Like so many other instances this season, Saturday’s derby clash with Seattle offers the ‘Caps a big opportunity to continue their progression as a second-year outfit in MLS.
That is not to say that the weekend task will be a very challenging one. Take away the large expected crowd and a motivated Sounders FC side, Whitecaps FC will need to make changes for Saturday’s match. With Martin Bonjour suspended for caution accumulation, Barry Robson suspended by the MLS Disciplinary Committee, and captain Jay DeMerit still questionable with concussion symptoms, Rennie may have to decide who will partner recent signing Andy O’Brien in the centre of defence, with Rochat and Carlyle Mitchell the likely options for the Scottish tactician. Should Rochat move to the centre of Vancouver’s backline, ‘Caps fans may see either Jordan Harvey or recently-capped Canadian international Russell Teibert come in at left fullback, as both players have experience in that position. Striker Omar Salgado is other player missing Saturday’s game through injury, though his progress from the right foot fracture he suffered on international duty with the United States U-20 squad in Uruguay on June 6, is going well.
The boost for Whitecaps FC is that striker Darren Mattocks and winger Dane Richards are available to face Seattle after being away on international duty with Jamaican national team this week. Rennie will also have Ghanaian midfielder Gershon Koffie available after he missed Wednesday’s loss to Dallas through suspension. All three have been in fine form of late, and could provide the type of influence needed to earn a big result over Sounders FC.
There have been changes to Sigi Schmid’s squad since they last met Vancouver nearly three months ago. The recent summer transfer window resulted in the arrival of German midfielder Christian Tiffert and Honduran international Mario Martinez to The Emerald City, while talented Uruguayan international Alvaro Fernandez moved on to Chicago Fire. They also have experienced Austrian goalkeeper Michael Gspurning back from a hip injury that kept him out of Seattle’s last match versus the ‘Caps.
The Rave Green will want a repeat of their last home match when they dismantled rivals LA Galaxy 4-0 at CenturyLink Field on August 5. Seattle, however, come into this meeting with Vancouver on a two-match losing streak. Sounders FC’s grip on the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup ended in a penalty shootout at MLS foes Sporting Kansas City on August 8 before they suffered a very late 2-1 defeat at Western Conference leaders San Jose Earthquakes last weekend.
Still, Sounders FC remain a potent attacking force. Their leading goalscorer Johnson (10 goals and two assists) looks to have found his form in Seattle, while strike partner Montero is one of the league’s best attackers with seven goals and four assists this season. Another key player is Argentine playmaker Mauro Rosales, who leads Sounders FC with nine assists.
Seattle will be without strikers David Estrada (foot) and Babayele Sodade (knee) for this weekend’s derby match.
Saturday's match is the fourth MLS meeting between Vancouver and Seattle, and the 115th time these Interstate 5 rivals have met in a competitive contest. Their first-ever MLS meeting on June 11, 2011, was a memorable match at Seattle's CenturyLink Field, as former striker Eric Hassli wrote his name into Whitecaps FC folklore with his spectacular volleyed equalizer that earned Vancouver a 2-2 draw in The Emerald City. Their second competitive meeting on September 24, 2011, went the way of Seattle, who hoisted the Cascadia Cup after a 3-1 victory at Empire Field. Though Camilo gave Whitecaps FC the lead, Sounders FC won the final MLS game at the East Vancouver venue with an equalizing penalty from Brad Evans before Montero struck twice in four second-half minutes for the win. Both clubs met in preseason on February 6, with Vancouver and Seattle drawing 1-1 at Grande Sport World in Casa Grande, Arizona.
Prior to facing each other in MLS last year, Whitecaps FC and Sounders FC 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 between 1974 and 1983, with the 'Caps recording 17 wins and 11 defeats versus Sounders FC. This included an even away record of seven wins and seven defeats by the Blue and White in Seattle. 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 United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1). Between 1994 and 2008, Sounders FC recorded 43 wins, 25 defeats, and 15 draws versus Whitecaps FC. This included an all-time home record of 24 wins, nine defeats, and seven draws by Seattle versus Vancouver. As a result, Sounders FC lead Whitecaps FC with an all-time record of 55 wins, 42 defeats, and 17 draws. This includes Seattle’s favourable home record of 31 wins, 16 defeats, and eight draws versus Vancouver.
There are numerous player connections between these two rivals. Sounders FC centre back Jeff Parke spent part of the 2009 USL-1 season with Whitecaps FC, while goalkeepers Andrew Weber (Seattle) and Joe Cannon (Vancouver) were teammates at San Jose Earthquakes. Seattle’s Rosales and Whitecaps FC defender Young-Pyo Lee have previously battled each other in the Dutch Eredivisie. Rosales played for AFC Ajax, while Lee played for rivals PSV Eindhoven.
As members of the Western Conference, Vancouver and Seattle will meet once more in the 2012 regular season. Whitecaps FC will host Seattle for a second time this season at BC Place on Saturday, September 29.
Saturday’s match is also the fourth contest in this year’s Cascadia Cup competition. This is the second season that Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland Timbers will contest the fan-based trophy as MLS clubs. Founded in 2004, the competition was conceived amongst the supporters of all three clubs, who were then members of USL-1. The Cascadia Cup is awarded to the club that has the best head-to-head record in MLS regular season matches between their Pacific Northwest rivals.
After three matches in this year’s Cascadia Cup, Portland lead the three-club standings with a 1W-0L-1D record (four points) followed by Vancouver at 0W-0L-2D (two points). Seattle are third with a 0W-1L-1D record (one point).
Sounders FC won the first all-MLS Cascadia Cup title in 2011 after registering a 2W-0L-2D record to finish top of the three-club standings. The Timbers were second with a 2W-1L-1D record, while Whitecaps FC finished third with 0W-3L-1D record. The ’Caps enter the 2012 season still in search of their first Cascadia Cup match victory as an MLS club.
Seattle join Whitecaps FC as the two most successful sides in the Cascadia Cup. Vancouver won the trophy in 2004, 2005, and 2008, while Sounders FC won the title as a USL-1 club in 2006 and 2007, and as an MLS outfit in 2011. Portland won the Cascadia Cup in 2009 and 2010 when the trophy was only contested between Whitecaps FC and the Timbers at the North American second division level.
THEN ANOTHER CASCADIA BATTLE…
Following the big weekend clash in Seattle, Whitecaps FC will play their fourth Cascadia Cup match of the season when they make a second visit of 2012 to The City of Roses to take on another Pacific Northwest rival in Portland Timbers on Saturday, August 25. Kickoff from JELD-WEN Field in Portland, Oregon, is set for 7:30 p.m. PT and can be seen live on Sportsnet Pacific, Sportsnet ONE, and Bell mobile devices. 'Caps fans can also listen to the August 25 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 at around 9:30 p.m. PT. Fans can also follow the August 25 match on Twitter @WhitecapsMatch.
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