This should be a doozy.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC host rivals Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday afternoon at BC Place with a whole lot at stake. Not only will the Cascadia Cup be awarded to the winner, the ‘Caps are also chasing the MLS Supporters’ Shield while Seattle are fighting to stay above the red line in the Western Conference.
Safe to say both teams – and both sets of fans – will be up for this one.
Match Day: Saturday, September 18
Kickoff: 4 p.m.
Venue: BC Place (Sold out!)
Radio: TSN 1410
As it stands, the ‘Caps sit atop the table in MLS, and with FC Dallas losing tonight against Sporting KC, the Whitecaps are looking to hold onto that spot for the MLS Supporters’ Shield, and, of course, a home playoff match.
A big part of Vancouver’s recent success has been the play of Uruguayan Cristian Techera. The 5-foot-2 winger, who has four goals and two assists in his last five MLS appearances, is now tied for second on the team with six goals. His countrymate Octavio Rivero leads the way with 10.
A win on Saturday would bring Whitecaps FC up to 51 points on the season, which would be a new franchise record in the MLS era. They’ll have to do it without midfielder Matias Laba though, as the Argentine will be serving the final game of his two-match suspension.
After a tough stretch in which they lost six of seven matches, the Sounders appear to be rounding back into form. They’re now unbeaten in three matches after a pair of wins over Toronto FC and Portland Timbers and a draw with San Jose Earthquakes.
Seattle was dealt a big blow this week, however, as it was revealed that newly acquired centre back Roman Torres would miss at least the remainder of the season with a torn ACL.
On the other hand, strikers Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins are finally healthy once again. In fact, the latter has scored in each of his last three matches.
“You know how good he is,” said Whitecaps FC goalkeeper David Ousted. “You know he gets in good positions in the box. His finishing is clinical and he’s fast as well. It’s going to be a tough challenge but a challenge I think we’re up for.”
The Cascadia Cup is a supporters-driven competition between Vancouver, Portland and Seattle. It is awarded annually to the team with the best regular season record over their Pacific Northwest rivals. Here are the current standings:
This will be the final Cascadia match of the season, which means the winner will take home the Cup. Seattle would also emerge victorious with a draw.
Whitecaps FC have five Cascadia Cups to their name, making them the most successful club in competition history. Seattle and Portland both have three. A win on Saturday would make Vancouver the first club to win the Cascadia Cup in three straight years.
“It’s always great to win a trophy; it doesn’t matter what trophy it is,” said Kekuta Manneh, who was the hero in each of Vancouver’s last two Cascadia Cup triumphs. “But this one is very special to the fans and for the club considering all the history so we’re very excited.”
This will be the third and final MLS meeting between Vancouver and Seattle this season.
Seattle won the first one 2-0 at BC Place but Whitecaps FC bounced back with a dominant 3-0 road victory at CenturyLink Field, which sets up the rubber match on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Cascadia rivals go head-to-head again next Wednesday in CONCACAF Champions League play – their first CCL encounter ended in a 1-1 draw last month. The winner of Wednesday’s match will take the top spot in Group F and advance to the quarter-finals.
Suffice to say, it’s a massive week ahead for both clubs.