Saturdays battle between the Seattle Sounders FC (9-5-13, 32 pts) and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9-7-13 34 pts) at Century Link Field is about separation. When the Cascadia Rivals clash for the second time this season, the winner will we are assuming there will be one, will vault themselves to pole position in the race to catch the Portland Timbers ( 10-8-11, 38pts)for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Both Seattle and Vancouver need a win, and neither team can do with a tie. While a tie would favor Seattle because they have played two less games than the Whitecaps, the game in hand advantage becomes fools gold if you are earning one point out of a possible three every time you step on the pitch.
That is exactly what the Sounders did in their match with the San Jose Earthquakes last weekend. Nicolas Lodeiro scored a late goal to salvage the 1-1 tie. The game ended the Sounders three game road trip in which they had two ties and a loss.
“It wasn’t a loss, but it wasn’t a win, either,” Sounders FC interim head coach Brian Schmetzer said after the match. “Draws are like vanilla. It’s better than a loss, but it’s certainly not what we were looking for.”
So if the strategy is to play 500 ball on the road and win all of your games at home, that means the 9th place Sounders need to beat the 7th place Whitecaps if they are to continue their dim hopes of reaching the playoffs.
The Whitecaps are are four points behind the Timbers and have played the same amount of games so their margin of error is slimmer than the Sounders. Unlike the Sounders, the Whitecaps are entering Saturdays game with a little bounce in their step. Vancouver snapped its eight-game MLS winless streak by beating the Columbus Crew 3-1 last weekend in Columbus.
“I’ve got to credit my guys with character and guts and determination,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson, who was suspended for the match. “The second half was an excellent display of away football.”
As for Saturdays match with Seattle, Robinson was clear about his teams objectives.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do in MLS playoffs. We know that. We’re below this red line that everyone keeps talking about and we are underdogs. We have a massive game on Saturday. Our season is on Saturday against our rival Seattle. A very good team as well, but our focus firmly switches now to MLS playoffs,” Robinson said.
LAST MEETING (MLS):
3/19 (at Seattle) SEA 1, VAN 2 (Ivanschitz 52 – Morales 10, 74)
ALL-TIME [MLS] (15 meetings):
Sounders FC 5 wins, 21 goals …
Whitecaps FC 6 wins, 22 goals … Ties 4
AT SEATTLE (7 meetings)
Sounders FC 2 wins, 9 goals
Whitecaps FC 4 wins, 14 goals … Ties 1
10/2: Vancouver Whitecaps FC vs. Seattle Sounders FC, 5 p.m. PT (FS1)
Season Goal Leaders