Vancouver Whitecaps at Seattle Sounders: CONCACAF Champions League

It’s deja vu all over again! Today the Seattle Sounders play the Vancouver Whitecaps in another pivotal match. Just four days after capturing the Cascadia Cup, Seattle will try to beat Vancouver for a ticket to the CCL knockout round.

The big leagues are at stake in Sodo. Any MLS team that fancies itself above the rank-and-file wants to make CCL, advance to the knockout round, beat a Liga MX team and, eventually, capture the crown. Seattle can continue their journey tonight. We win and we’re in. It’s that easy for us. We’d finish with 7 points in the group and advance,

Yes, the ‘Caps could still finish with 7 points (if they beat CD Olimpia in October). However the first tiebreaker is head-to-head points between the  tied teams. Even if both clubs got to 7, we’d have 4 points from our two matchups against their 1. Sigi Schmid put it succinctly recently after practice, “A loss or a tie doesn’t get us anywhere.” If both teams draw tonight, things get weird. We’d be out, but CD Olimpia would be very much alive. A win or draw by Vancouver in Tegucigalpa and the ‘Caps are through; Olimpia is through with a home win. Group F is far from settled, unless of course Seattle wins at home. How the coaches select their respective lineups will be very telling.

Both teams have domestic distractions that will limit their lineups. Vancouver is in the middle of thick fixture congestion and ‘Caps coach Carl Robinson said recently he’ll start the same youthful lineup he has through the previous 2 CCL games. Robinson also didn’t avoid the opportunity to get a little salty with Seattle, saying, “They’ve got a good strong squad and they’ve got depth. You look at their bench at the weekend. They’re bringing Valdez on, international player, 68 caps. We’re bringing Kianz on who’s played eight games.” Maybe the Vancouver coach is just jealous. Sigi, for his part, has been coy about who he’d start, only hinting, “It might not be all young guys, but it might be.” Let’s hope Sigi fields a B+ lineup and we continue to take them all.

BOLD PREDICTION: We have less wiggle-room than the ‘Caps who can play for a tie. I see Sigi sprinkling in some serious studs, at least in the 18 (Oba, Valdez, Ivanschitz). This is a home game and those tired legs won’t have to travel. And the ‘Caps are just happy to be in the CCL: Seattle wins 3-2, and advances.


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