VANCOUVER, BC – Cascadia Cup derbies are always big occasions. When there's crucial playoff points also on the line, the games have even more intensity.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC will face Seattle Sounders FC on the road Friday evening at CenturyLink Field (7 p.m. PT, TSN1) with the Cascadia Cup and the fifth-and-final playoff spot in the Western Conference on the line. With three games remaining, the 'Caps trail the Portland Timbers by two points for that spot, but with a game in hand they still control their own destiny.
"We are running out of games, and it's important that we respond appropriately the next upcoming games," Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson told reporters. "We know we have a massive game against Seattle. These are the games you want to play in. They are big games, and obviously the Cascadia Cup is on the line and we want to win. We will go there full of confidence, but it will be a tough game."
With the stakes high, Robinson feels that these are exactly the kind of matches that his players should be desperate to play and excel in, and especially with it taking place at what he feels is one of the best atmospheres and environments in Major League Soccer.
"If you play in England, you probably want to go and play at Old Trafford,” Robinson said. “If you play in Spain, you want to play at Real Madrid. And if you play in Germany you want to play at Bayern Munich."
"We’ll be playing in front of 50-odd-thousand. Fantastic support, fantastic stadium, fantastic team. They’re competing with LA most years for the Supporters’ Shield, so we can’t ask any more.”
Robinson said his team will go into the match as “underdogs.”
"We’ll go in, we’ll do our job and we’ll see if we can get a win, but I’ve got every confidence in this group,” he said. “We’re not going to go there to soak up and try and nick things on the break. If we do our job defensively, we can cause them problems going forward."
Seattle are well aware of the attacking problems that Vancouver can cause them after Kekuta Manneh's electrifying hat-trick at CenturyLink Field a year ago. With Sebastian Fernandez suspended and Darren Mattocks away on international duty with Jamaica, limiting Robinson’s attacking options, Manneh could get that chance again.
"It’s set up to be a fantastic game," Robinson said. "They’re scoring four goals against every team they seem to play, so we might need to score five to maybe beat them."
"I haven’t got as many attacking options as I usually carry. I carry four, maybe five sometimes. There’ll be two or three on there, and there might be a new face along the way as well. I’ve got confidence in those guys as well. If they come on, they’ll get the opportunity. It’s down to them to show, and you won’t get a better environment to show how good they are."
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