Sit back and strap in, because it is about to get crazy in Upper Cascadia. On Saturday afternoon, the Whitecaps will host the Sounders in a clash of Western Conference titans. After the first team dismantled lowly Philadelphia Union 3-0 on the weekend, the Whitecaps reserves got some midweek action as they struggled against NASL side FC Edmonton.
Before 2013 the Whitecaps struggled against their neighbours to the South. In their first 2 MLS seasons the Whitecaps amassed a record of 0-2-3. Since 2013, the story has taken a dramatic turn as the record vs Seattle has improved to 4-1-1 which includes a 5 match undefeated run. During this time, Vancouver has lifted their 4th and 5th Cascadia Cups. While the attacking prowess of Seattle often rolls over teams across the league, the Sounders have met fierce resistance from their northern rivals.
With the Whitecaps sitting 4 points ahead while having played 2 extra games, a home victory against the Sounders would send a clear message to every team in MLS. With the Women’s World Cup just around the corner, the Whitecaps will soon find themselves on a 5 match road trip. This season they have established themselves as road warriors but games in Los Angeles, New York and New England will test this young team. The ‘Caps would love to create a safety net for themselves and a victory against Seattle would go a long way to achieving this comfort zone.
Seattle will likely be missing the services of Obafemi Martins when they take to the field alongside Vancouver. Martins absence from practise on Thursday morning lead to the revelation that the Nigerian striker was having x-rays done on this leg. His status is unclear but the general consensus seems to be that he will not make the trip to Vancouver.
On the subject of injuries, the Whitecaps will be without starting left-back, Sam Adekugbe, who picked up a nasty injury during the match against FC Edmonton. The young Canadian left the pitch and went to the locker-rooms while making sure not to put any weight on his injured ankle. This means that Jordan Harvey will get the start. On the other side of the pitch, right-back Steven Beitashour has missed the past 2 matches due to injury. It seems more likely than not that Tim Parker will yet again step into the void. Parker earned his first MLS start against the Union and didn’t look out of place.
After a slow start to the season, Pedro Morales has finally showed up for work and he means business. He and fellow DP, Octavio Rivero are making scoring goals look like shooting fish in a barrel. This combined with the rejuvenated Darren Mattocks means Seattle will be hard-pressed to pick up any points at BC Place.