After dropping their first three matches of the season, the Vancouver Whitecaps look to bounce back at home against their rivals from down the I-5, as the emerald green and blue Seattle Sounders make their way up for their first Cascadia Clash of the season. Flying-high, Brian Schmetzer’s men come to Vancouver fresh off 3 straight victories, an impressive start to the season for an outfit that has not done that much to start campaigns over the last few years. They look to maintain that start on Saturday, as they face a Whitecaps side that is pretty much completely on the other end of the spectrum, as they have started the season with 3 straight losses, and are winless in 2019 (including preseason) after a coaching change in the offseason. Despite that, the mood around the Caps remains positive, as a good run of form can quickly turn things around and get them back on the right path as they start to get their team fully integrated.
Projected Starting Lineup:
Injuries: Russell Teibert (Shoulder, Pending Evaluation), Andy Rose (Facial Fractures, Week-to-Week), Jesser Khemiri (Knee, Week-to-Week), Micheal Baldisimo (Ankle, Day-To-Day).
Some interesting personnel decisions to make here for Marc Dos Santos, as 2 of his midfielders picked up injuries the last two weeks, with Russell Teibert injuring his shoulder in his return from an ankle injury for Canada, and Andy Rose suffering Facial Fractures against Houston after a nasty clash there. Along with Hwang arriving yesterday fresh off playing 90 minutes on the other side of the planet against Colombia, they may face a bit of a crunch in the midfield. Hwang is a gutsy player and would love to start, but a lot of it depends on how his recovery sessions have gone since he comes back and how he feels in the Friday training, the last one before the match. If he is not able to participate fully in that, look for PC to draw into that central midfielder position as there appears to be no other options with the Development squad away in England. Dos Santos could also go for a 4-4-2 and bring Ardaiz up top with Montero, but he looks likely to stick with the 4-3-3 that he has been working on all season after seeing his 3-4-3 backfire last week. Crepeau, Henry and Godoy stay in after solid performances to start the season, as they continue to build chemistry and chase that elusive first clean sheet of the season (and first in a long time!).
Nerwinski and newcomer Ali Adnan look likely to come in, with Nerwinski looking for redemption after a rough first two games forced him to the bench last week, and Adnan looking to impose himself in his first MLS start as he starts his loan. Whether or not he sticks around in Vancouver in the long run, he will look to have a good first match and impose himself with some of the attributes he brings. He is a fierce tackler, and very talented going forward, and has looked good so far in the 3 training sessions he has participated in. Erice continues to start as the captain, as he has done decently in his first few starts in MLS, and will look to continue to adapt and bring his skills to the table. Felipe looks to return after sitting out the last 2 games, and he looks excited to get back into the team. He was slow on the ball the first match, but he can play quickly and be an exciting player, so he will aim to do that as the other midfielders stay ready to come in for him if his form dips. Up front, we will likely see Montero, Bangoura and Venuto for the first time together this season, as Yordy Reyna will be a game-time decision like Hwang after playing a role in his national team’s match on Tuesday. Venuto and Bangoura are rapid, so seeing them burst down the wings to feed Montero might not be the worst game plan in the world considering Montero’s proficiency against his former club in Seattle last time around.
BTSVancity Player to Watch:
For this 4th match of the season, we will give some love to the defensive side of things and make Maxime Crepeau our BTSVancity player to watch for this match. After doing well in his first three starts, he looks to have established himself as the starter until he falters. After having faced a penalty in each of those matches (!), look for him to have a strong performance once more and chase that first clean sheet of the season. He distributes the ball well and has made some good stops, making him an effective keeper for this Dos Santos side. He loves playing in front of the fans, so look for him to bring his A game for this one.
Honourable Mentions: Ali Adnan, Felipe
After a nice break, the Caps come into this one looking to dispatch one of the leagues hottest teams. Painted as the underdogs in this one, the Caps will look to do what they have done relatively well in their time in MLS, bust streaks and pull off improbable victories against unstoppable opponents (playoffs aside). With new acquisition Ali Adnan looking fit and ready to cause some damage, look for him to make a big impact and introduce himself to some of the finest MLS has to offer.
Once again many eyes will be on this one to watch the refereeing, as the Caps were once again hard done by an officiating decision, so they will do everything in their power to stop the streak of penalties given up.
Saturday should be jumping in BC Place, as the Sounders always travel well and a Saturday 7 PM start against rivals should give plenty of a reason for fans to show up and bring some noise, giving some heat to this one. While Dos Santos may have dismissed the fact that players will bring a different game to this one than any other one, the fans may have a little extra for this one.
Manager: Brian Schmetzer
As mentioned, Seattle comes into this one flying very high. Jordan Morris has made a great comeback from a nasty knee injury that robbed him of his entire 2018 season, scoring goals and earning a call-up to the US Men’s National Team fold. Nico Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz link up well up top, as Ruidiaz has been one of the most dangerous strikers in MLS since arriving here last summer. He finished last season on a tear and has continued it into this one, scoring in the first 3 matches. Nico Lodeiro himself has been humming along nicely, earning a call-up back into the Uruguay National Team fold after his great form so far. Along with Victor Rodriguez and Christian Roldan, there will be a lot for Henry and Godoy to take care of at the back. Seattle has always been a top team, but for the first time in a while, they actually have started well, so they look to be early Supporter’s Shield contenders. This fixture has gone many ways for them over the years, as Vancouver has produced all sorts of entertaining matches. With Vancouver being desperate for that first victory, this one has potential to be a barnburner.
Marc Dos Santos:
On what he’d like to see Saturday: “I’d like to see a game where we limit mistakes, I’d like to see a game where we’re better in our collective approach, especially in our defensive organization”
On players potentially being more fired up for a derby: “It’s very sad that in two days I’ve been speaking a lot about that (his players being extra motivated for the derby), it shouldn’t be our human nature (…)it’s very normal, but if we really step back and think about raising the attitude because its Seattle or Portland, its wrong (…). Our approach as human beings and in sports need to be high all the time. Yes it’s Seattle, I understand for some players emotionally it’s going to be more, but it’s unfortunate, good but unfortunate (…). Does your boss want you to show up sometime, or all the time?”
On the mentality after the 3 losses: “I see a commitment every day with the guys, I don’t see players with their head down and not training and not having the right mentality”
On what it’s like for his new teammates to adapt: “It takes time for them to adapt to a new style of play, a new city, a new culture, a new league where you travels a lot (…)but we’re not here to make excuses, it is what it is. When I was young, I played on concrete, so we had fun. Doesn’t matter where we play, we’re not here to make excuses, we’re here to play soccer”
On differences of mentality from around the world: “I think what changes is mentality, when you play in Brazil you play for a plate of food, and every time you step on the field its the reason why you want to win (…) when you come from different places you already have your plate of food, you go to private school, you have everything, so your mindset is different, its not everything, its your second option. If you finish your career today, you go to the office tomorrow and you have your new career. If I stop today, I don’t know what I am going to do since I didn’t finish school”
On his teammates being ready for Saturday: “They are excited to be a part of the game, but we need everybody to be ready”
On the importance of the match: “It’s huge, its a big opportunity for us in front of our fans to prove that we’re working hard. We are disappointed to have lost the first 3 games, and now this game against Seattle, a big one in Cascadia, we want to win”
On what the match will be like: “Yeah, a lot of them, they’re gonna be a desperate team, their record is not what I’m sure what Marc wants it to be. It’s a home game, what a better way to start their season than to beat their archrival at home?”
On how difficult these matches can be: “These games are always challenging, we’ve had some success up there but every year is different and I know Marc will have his team ready”.
On coming to Vancouver: “It’s a tough place to play, always, obviously we had some success there last year, I think they’re gonna come out flying, they need a win, and for us obviously trying to keep our streak going is important”
On what to expect from Vancouver: “There’s some pride involved there, we’ve had a decent start and they’re looking for a big result. Derbies like that can be the thing that kickstarts your run (…) They’ve made some dangerous additions”
Alexandre: 2-0 Whitecaps, Godoy and Montero scoring.
Keveren: 2-0 Seattle, Ruidiaz Brace.
Jan: 3-1 Seattle, Ruidiaz Brace, 1x Morris Goal and Montero replying for the Caps.
Karim: 2-0 Seattle, Ruidiaz and Morris
Felix: 2-2, Ruidiaz and Kee Hee for Seattle, Reyna and Montero for the Caps.