Tonight the Seattle Sounders face their old Cascadian foe, the Vancouver Whitecaps. Seattle has been the class of Cascadia in MLS play and even Portland had their moment in the sun, briefly, last season. Only Vancouver has been the lone Northwest underachiever. The ‘Caps snuck into the playoffs in 2012 and were soundly thrashed by L.A., and that’s about the biggest accomplishment in their recent history. They did win the Cascadia Cup last year (while finishing 7th in the West with only 48 points), and looked to repeat this year.
Earlier in the season, Vancouver had the Cup seemingly sewn up. Back on August 24th, Seattle had 8 points in 5 games played, while the ‘Caps had 7 in 3. We owe the Portland Timbers and their recent thrashings of the ‘Caps for the chance to play for more silverware. Maybe we repay the stinky timbers by helping them a little in their playoff push? Strange bedfellows indeed.
You can say what you want about Vancouver not being too scary, but I’m worried about this game. Many things about Vancouver scare me. They’re hungry for points and are fighting to stay above the thin, red playoff line. Their recent form has been stellar, beating two quality western sides in RSL and Dallas by an aggregate of 4-1. Also Seattle does not match up with Vancouver well. Over their last six matches, going back to 2012, Seattle only has a 1-2-3 record against Vancouver.
Vancouver is a stellar counter-attacking team. They have speed in droves: Kekutah Manneh and Darren Mattocks are arguably the fastest players in MLS, and they’re not even starters. The ‘Caps employ a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Erik Hurtado ain’t the fastest, but he has quality and a nice touch. Lone talented strikers don’t affect Seattle too much, as Chad Marshall is a stud, but Vancouver’s attack starts in the midfield.
Coach Carl Robinson likes to clog the midfield with talented players with Russell Teibert, Matias Laba, Sebastian Fernandez, Pedro Morales and our old stalwart, Mauro Rosales. It is Morales who pulls the strings, as he has ten goals and ten assists on the year. Vancouver is a Seattle slayer: a counterattacking team that clogs the midfield. They excel at what MLS has figured out to be the perfect hydra repellent: boss the midfield, clog the top of the box and patiently wait to spring a deadly counter. Seattle will need to stay in shape and not force the game.
Bold Prediction: Both teams have a lot to play for. Vancouver is fighting for their playoff lives and Seattle for the glory and honor of Cascadia, a 20th win, and Supporters’ Shield. In a knock-down-drag-out Cascadia classic, both teams trade goals. We see brilliant play from Obafemi Martins and Mauro Rosales. Sounders win 3-2.