Whitecaps FC-Sounders Preview

The Seattle Sounders have work to do if they’re going to win a

second consecutive Cascadia Cup, but they’re still leading both of

their Pacific Northwest rivals in the Western Conference

standings.

A victory over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday

could help Seattle in both races.

With each team having played each other once this season,

Seattle (10-6-7) has one point in Cascadia Cup play behind

Portland’s four and Vancouver’s two.

The Sounders, though, hold the third-place tiebreaker in the

West over Los Angeles and the Whitecaps (10-8-7), and they’re well

in front of the last-place Timbers.

Coming off a five-match stretch in 15 days that ended with last

Saturday’s 2-1 loss at league-best San Jose, Seattle will go for a

fifth consecutive home win across all competitions. The Sounders,

who have outscored opponents 16-7 while going 7-3-1 at home in

league play, played to a 2-all draw June 11, 2011, in Vancouver’s

only visit to Seattle as an MLS team.

“Winning the Cascadia Cup, the most important thing about it is

I think it puts us a step closer to achieving our playoff goals and

achieving our position that we want to finish the season at,”

Sounders coach Sigi Schmid told the team’s official website.

While the Whitecaps are still very much in the playoff

conversation, they’ve gone 3-5-2 since a 5-1-3 run. Vancouver,

though, should be in a better position Saturday than in a 2-0 home

loss to FC Dallas on Wednesday when leading scorer Darren Mattocks

(Jamaica), Dane Richards (Jamaica), Carlyle Mitchell (Trinidad and

Tobago), Russell Teibert (Canada) and Etienne Barbara (Malta) were

away on international duty.

“That’s one of those performances we’re going to like to forget

real quickly and fortunately we have a big derby on Saturday,”

goalkeeper Joe Cannontold the Whitecaps’ official website.

Captain Jay DeMerit could return to Vancouver’s lineup after

missing the Dallas loss with a concussion, but fellow defender

Martin Bonjour won’t be available due to yellow-card accumulation.

Plus, midfielder Barry Robson must sit out after the league

announced Saturday he was suspended for one game for “aggravated

dissent” toward an official in Wednesday’s loss.

Those absences could be a concern as the well-rested Sounders

look to put as much pressure on net as possible to avoid losing

back-to-back games for the first time since opening 0-2-0 last

season.

“That’s the game you always want to play in,” Seattle’s Fredy

Montero said of the Cascadia Cup matches. “You always have to

score.”

Montero, who recorded a team-best four goals in the Sounders’

four Cascadia Cup matches in 2011, has scored three times in the

last two contests against the Whitecaps. He beat Cannon in the 90th

minute to give Seattle a 2-2 draw in Vancouver on May 19.

Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning will likely see his first

action in Cascadia Cup play after missing the May 19 match and a

2-1 loss at Portland on June 24 with a hip injury.