2019 Match Preview #19: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs Seattle Sounders FC: Super Soccer Saturday in Seattle

After picking up 1 point in a dramatic finish down in Dallas, the Vancouver Whitecaps are set to take on their rivals, the Seattle Sounders, in another installment of the Cascadia Cup. After splitting the points in a surprisingly entertaining 0-0 draw back at BC Place in March, these two teams are set to do battle down at CenturyLink field in what promises to be another great match between these two teams. The Sounders started the season hot, as they came flying out of the gate, shooting up the standings thanks to some strong performances, but they now find themselves in a bit of a mini-slump, having dropped their last 3 results in league play. They are still 3rd in the West, firmly in a playoff spot, but they are closer to the drop than one would think, only 6 points ahead of Vancouver, who themselves are only 1 point out of the postseason picture. 

With Vancouver expected to send a big contingent of away fans to this one, this game should have a little extra juice from both sides, with Seattle looking to send Vancouver home empty-handed, while Vancouver looks to take over the city with a victory themselves. So,  unless you’re Mexican or Costa Rican and want to catch the Gold Cup at the same time, you won’t want to miss this one. With Canada taking on Haiti 3 hours before this match kicks off, there is a lot to be excited about for fans of Vancouver and Canadian football on what looks to be another “Super Saturday”

Vancouver Whitecaps:

International Absences: Maxime Crepeau (Canada, Gold Cup), Russell Teibert (Canada, Gold Cup), Derek Cornelius (Canada, Gold Cup) Doneil Henry (Canada, Gold Cup), Lass Bangoura (Guinea, Africa Cup of Nations).

Injuries: Jhesser Khemiri (Day-To-Day, Knee) David Norman Jr (Week-To-Week, Foot)

Record: 4W-6L-8D (20 Points)

Marc Dos Santos’s crew is expected to look very similar to what they trotted out last Saturday, returning to a back 4 after Lucas Venuto more than earned his way back into the lineup with a man of the match worthy 30 minutes off the bench to help the Caps claw back a draw against Dallas. Besides that, Yordy Reyna looks to stay in, after his two great “golazos” in the last two matches played a big role in both Caps comebacks, while Fredy Montero will make another triumphant return to the city he called home for many years, back when he used to make a living in terrorizing defences while he patrolled the frontline for the Sounders. In the midfield, not as much change is expected, with possible options Andy Rose playing at the back, Russell Teibert away with Canada and Micheal Baldisimo unlikely to get a start. While it is possible that Dos Santos throws in Baldisimo, or moves up Rose and inserts Brendan McDonaugh in his place, it would be unexpected as he likely goes with his experienced hands in front of what promises to be a hostile environment. At the back, Jake Nerwinski and Ali Adnan will probably patrol the flanks, with Erik Godoy and Andy Rose marshalling the backline, led by keeper Zac MacMath, who is still looking for his first Whitecaps victory Between The Sticks (™)

BTSVancity Player to Watch: Fredy Montero

Fredy Montero denied by the acrobatic clearance of Lalas Abubakar vs Colorado, June 22nd 2019 (Taken by: Keveren Guillou)

Making a return to the “CLink” for the first time in a while, look for Montero to open his account against Seattle for the season, after terrorizing them back in his first stint in Vancouver during the 2017 campaign. He has endured a tumultuous year, only scoring twice from open play, but he has started to find a groove of late, contributing with integral hold-up play and chance generation, so look for this match to provide him with that boost of confidence that he so badly needs from non-penalty situations. 

Storylines:

  • Adrenaline junkies? Vancouver will have to conjure up a lot of grit for this one, with them playing their 3rd match in just under a week. With many key absences, it will either be another start for many fatigued players, or the introduction of some youth, so either way, Vancouver will be in tough against a Sounders team fresh off a 23 day break themselves. Some adrenaline and a strong start would go a long way for this squad as they look to continue their points run. 
  • Gone streaking? Vancouver has points in the last 6 games and 9 of their last 10, coming into this one hot. While 5 of those last 6 have been draws, they have been accumulating points at a decent clip. They pick up a win in Seattle? All of a sudden they’re in a playoff spot and have a decent run in their back pocket. 
  • All eyes on Ali? Ali Adnan plays the last match of his Whitecaps contract on Saturday. A top player, Vancouver was very fortunate to pick him up for the 3 months or so that they have had him, as he has transformed their defensive line and attack. While negotiations are certainly hot and heavy with Serie A club Udinese at the moment, fans anxiously wait to see what will happen to the man dubbed by Dos Santos to be the “Best left back in MLS”
Will this match be the last time we see Ali in Caps colours?

Seattle Sounders FC:

Manager: Brian Schmetzer

Record: 7W-4L-5D (26 Pts)

This match does not come at a great time for Seattle, as they are hit even harder by the injury bug and international break than Vancouver, as they are missing a lot of players for this one. With Raul Ruidiaz, Nico Lodeiro, Roman Torres and Christian Roldan being the big names absent, with many smaller names as well, they will get a chance to really test their depth. With Will Bruin apparently out injured, they only have one striker on the squad, Ocampo-Chavez, who has never played an MLS game. Despite that, they appear solid at the back and in goal, with regulars Stefan Frei, Brad Smith, Kim-Kee Hee and Kevin Leerdam all being present, and they should be decent in the midfield with Gustav Svensson and Jordy Delem being back from their international duties as well. It remains to be seen where the goals can come from, but besides that, it is still a good squad expected to line up for this one. 

Looking Forward:

This match promises to be entertaining between these longtime rivals, as they look to rekindle some fire ahead of the stretch run. While the many absences on either side will prove disappointing, there are still a lot of good players and they should combine to provide an entertaining affair. With both sets of fans expected to be loud down in CenturyLink, it will be a fun affair. 

Side note: BTSVancity will be down in the Clink taking in the match, so stay tuned for our post-match coverage, follow along on our twitter for live updates, and check back both here and on our Instagram for photos of the match and everything else. Should be an exciting day!

Whitecaps FC vs Sounders FC, Saturday, June 29th, 2019, 19:00 PST, Century Link Field, Seattle. 

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