VANCOUVER, B.C. — A pair of sizzling strikers will roam the BC Place pitch Saturday night as Seattle Sounders FC resumes Cascadia Cup competition against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Seattle forward Obafemi Martins and Vancouver’s Camilo share the Major League Soccer lead with an average of 0.85 goals per 90 minutes played.
And the temperature might be rising for both.
Martins is coming off his first multigoal MLS game, as he scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over D.C. United.
Meanwhile, two time zones away, Camilo scored the Whitecaps’ goal in a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City. That was Camilo’s seventh goal over his last five games and brought him to 10 on the season, tied for second in MLS. Two of those goals came June 8, when the Sounders beat the Whitecaps, 3-2, in Seattle.
“I think the biggest thing you can do with a player that’s playing well is to try to limit service to him,” Seattle defender Zach Scott said. “(Camilo’s) going to get his opportunities; hopefully we can limit the balls that he does get and make them difficult. But again, he’s a quality player, and he’s been playing really well lately.”
The Whitecaps’ defense might have similar hopes for controlling Martins, whose six goals have come over 636 minutes of MLS play — a Sounders record.
“The thing that Oba provided in the last game, on the first goal he showed his speed and his pace,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “This is a guy if you get positioned wrong a little bit, he’s going to take advantage of you, and he did that. And I think the second goal was a lot of just grit and determination, and that’s something that Oba brings as well. Sometimes maybe his touch isn’t the most polished at times, but the point is you’re always going to get that grit and determination from him.”
Martin’s two goals Wednesday put him in the team lead, passing Eddie Johnson and Lamar Neagle, who have four each.
Johnson, who set the club record with 14 goals last season, said he welcomes the dangerous company up front.
“I think when certain guys get hot, it leaves other guys open to get opportunities,” he said. “It’s good to see different guys scoring. From a competitive standpoint within the team, it’s good.”
Schmid said that’s what the Sounders had in mind when they signed Martins as a designated player during the offseason.
“You look for the best forward that you can find as much as possible,” Schmid said. “But you also have in the back of your mind, ‘Can they relate to each other? Can they play with each other?’ We just felt that having two players with that explosive speed up front puts tremendous pressure on another team’s back line. If you’re an opponent and you’re scouting us and you’re preparing for us as a coach, it’s like, hey, you don’t really want to get caught two-on-two too often back there.”
The Whitecaps also have offensive options beyond Camilo.
Kenny Miller has scored five goals in nine games. However, assists leader Russell Teibert is out because of duty with the Canadian national team.
“Vancouver has some speed up front as well,” Schmid said. “Miller’s got decent speed, and certainly (Darren) Mattocks, when he comes into the game, has got decent speed.
“Camilo’s been playing very well for them. He’s very smooth with the ball, but he’s also a guy who’s got good quickness, good speed.”
SOUNDERS FC (7-5-3; 24 POINTS) AT VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (7-5-5; 26)
Kickoff: 8 p.m., BC Place, Vancouver, B.C.
TV: NBCSN. Radio: 97.3-FM.
Head to head: Seattle leads 3-0-3 in Major League Soccer and 63-46-21 through all leagues and competitions since 1974. The Sounders won the June 8 match, 3-2, at CenturyLink Field. The clubs will meet again Oct. 9 in Seattle.
Notes: This is the third of six Cascadia Cup matches for each team. Seattle (1-0-1) leads Portland (0-0-2) and Vancouver (0-1-1). The Whitecaps have not won a Cascadia Cup match since joining MLS. ... Vancouver is 5-1-2 over its last eight matches. Seattle is 6-2-0 over the same period. The Whitecaps are 5-0-3 at home; the Sounders are 3-4-1 on the road. ... The availability of Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (quadriceps) and defender DeAndre Yedlin (shoulder) isn’t expected to be determined until game time. Russell Teibert, who leads Vancouver with six assists, is out because of Canadian national team duty. ... The Sounders’ Sigi Schmid will coach his 400th MLS regular-season match. ... Seattle’s Eddie Johnson is one caution away from a one-game suspension for yellow-card accumulation. ... The assigned referee is Hilario Grajeda.
Quotable: “They sort of play a 4-2-3-1 that sometimes looks like a 4-3-3 because they really play their wingers up at times, especially when Camilo plays there. So we have to account for their attacking pieces, and try and make sure that we possess the ball and get at their back line. They’ve had some injuries at center back and have played some different combinations.” — Schmid on the Whitecaps.
Next: The Sounders visit the San Jose Earthquakes next Saturday.Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt email@example.com