Pass the popcorn – this is going to be fun.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC visit longtime rival Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday night at Century Link Field before hosting them again four days later in the club’s first-ever CONCACAF Champions League fixture.
Adding to the intrigue of Saturday’s match is the fact that Seattle would clinch the Cascadia Cup with a victory and, in the process, dethrone the two-time defending champion ‘Caps.
Match Day: Saturday, August 1
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Venue: CenturyLink Field, Seattle
Radio: TSN 1410
The ‘Caps enter the weekend second in the Western Conference and third in MLS.
Their most recent result was a dominant 3-1 win over San Jose Earthquakes last weekend at BC Place. The match proved costly, however, as Mauro Rosales picked up a groin injury that will keep him out of this weekend’s tilt against his former club.
Rosales’ injury could signal a return to the starting lineup for captain Pedro Morales, who played 22 minutes in his first game back from injury last weekend. Another option to replace Rosales is winger Cristian Techera, who is available once more after serving his one-match suspension.
Saturday’s match kicks off a busy month for Whitecaps FC, who will play a total of eight matches in August between MLS play, the CONCACAF Champions League, and the Amway Canadian Championship.
“Rotation of the squad will be paramount for us,” Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson said. “And more young players will be given chances. It really is a great challenge for us these next eight games. Who knows the outcome? In five weeks I’ll be standing here and I’ll either have a big smile on my face or I won’t.”
It’s been a difficult few months for the defending MLS Supporters’ Shield winners.
The Sounders have lost six of their last seven matches. During that span they’ve been outscored 10-2, including three straight shutout defeats.
“There’s never an easy time to play Seattle,” Robinson said. “You can read into it however you want, what their record is. They’ve lost a couple of games, but they’ll be there or thereabouts towards the end of the year without a doubt. They always are.”
It’s no coincidence that strikers Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins have been out of commission during Seattle’s recent slump – Dempsey due to international duty and Martins due to a groin injury. But both players could make their returns on Saturday.
“We’ll see,” was all that Sounders head coach Sigi Schmidt would say on the subject.
“It’s going to be a difficult game for us, whoever’s on the field,” Robinson said. “Whether it’s their top guys or not or our top guys or not, it’s about who performs.”
This will be the second of three MLS meetings between the ‘Caps and Sounders this season – not including their two CONCACAF Champions League fixtures. Seattle came out on top in the first meeting, handing Whitecaps FC a disappointing 2-0 defeat back on May 16 at BC Place.
The all-time record between the two teams in MLS is 4W-4L-4D, though the ‘Caps have won back-to-back matches at CenturyLink Field. There is also a 40+ year history between the two clubs dating back to the old North American Soccer League days.
The action shifts to BC Place on Wednesday, August 5, when the longtime rivals meet again in Vancouver’s first-ever CONCACAF Champions League match.