Vancouver Whitecaps play their fourth Cascadia Cup match of the year at BC Place on Saturday night when Seattle Sounders come to town for the second time this season. Pedro Vite’s first half opener and an own goal from Stefan Frei gave the ‘Caps the 2-0 win back on May 20 and Vancouver will be hoping for more of the same in the first of three home matches they now have ahead of the Leagues Cup break.
To get your all fired up for the match we caught up with Dave Clark, founder and Managing Editor of the always informative Sounder At Heart website to pose three questions about Seattle ahead of Saturday night’s big game. You can read our three questions on their site HERE.
(1) The Sounders’ results have seemed confusing from afar. A great start, with six wins in nine and the goals flowing freely contrasting with the last nine games, one win in the last six, and being kept off the scoresheet in four of those six games. What Seattle side can we expect to see at BC Place on Saturday?
Much of Seattle’s slide has to do with the absence of a series of their best players. For months now at least two and frequently four of their top starters have been unavailable. For example talisman Cristian Roldan was out with a concussion for what felt like the season (it happened to coincide with the scoring drought and the mediocrity). He’s gone again, as is Jordan Morris the only Sounder with more than four goals. Secondary scorer Raúl Ruidíaz has those four goals and has played merely 554 minutes with just five starts. The injury wave was at its worst when Seattle was managing double-game weeks. One of their short term callups scored three goals in three matches, rescuing a win in Houston, and helping the Open Cup run feel fun for a game. The depth in the attack is particularly lacking, as that player is no longer on the MLS roster. Former scorers Fredy Montero and Héber seem incapable of finishing. No young attacker is contributing more than minutes of rest. This week’s match will play like a one-note song, pushing Léo Chú to be the focal point of the attack, which when it works is extraordinary. But it’s infrequently effective. When he has an xGA of 0.4 or higher the Sounders are 4-1-0, +5.
(2) As dominant as the Sounders have been in Seattle against Vancouver, they’ve struggled on the road here and haven’t won at BC Place since 2018. What do you put that down to?
I wish I knew this secret. It shouldn’t be the surface change, or the larger space for the stands — both of those are familiar to the Sounders. Other teams could complain about travel, but again, not an issue here. There is the tiny oddity in the pandemic restrictions era where Seattle earned a road win, but both teams were on the road.
Outside of last season’s road disaster three wins, under Brian Schmetzer the club has been good to very good on the road. This is speculation, but perhaps the club is a little too comfortable due to the short travel and similarities between the stadiums and cities. They’re travelling the day before the match today, which may help them feel like it is a standard road match.
(3) How do the Seattle fans view the Vancouver matches? A true rivalry or have the Whitecaps just not been competitive enough to make them feel like these are true derby games?
My perception of the Whitecaps part of the trivalry is that it exists, but it’s more like friendly ribbing than the fierce passion of Portland-Seattle. It’s less significant than Seattle-LA² because those two clubs compete with the Sounders for major trophies. That’s what it will take for this rivalry to feel like a more traditional rivalry — significant hardware on the line. Winning a regional cup is nice and all, but conquering leagues and continents is a thrill. If Vancouver stands in the way of that the 80s vibrancy of Whitecaps-Sounders could come back.
Thanks to Dave for his time and check out everything Seattle soccer related, from MLS to MLS NEXT Pro to NWSL, over at the excellent Sounder At Heart