VANCOUVER, B.C. – Philadephia’s draw at Kansas City on Friday officially put Sounders FC into the MLS playoffs.
Over the next two games, the Sounders won’t need to watch any scoreboards but their own.
With a win tonight against the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Sounders will take this season’s Cascadia Cup.
And with a win or draw Tuesday at Comunicaciones, they will assure themselves of going through to the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals.
“It’s always better when it’s in your own hands because you don’t have to rely on anybody else,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “And so you put the pressure on yourself, and you’re able to reward yourself or you punish yourself.”
First up is the Sounders’ first MLS visit to Vancouver. The clubs played to a 2-2 draw in the earlier meeting in Seattle.
However, most other days of the season have favored Seattle, which has the league’s third-best record, while the expansion Whitecaps are at the bottom with four wins in 28 games.
A loss tonight would mathematically eliminate Vancouver from playoff contention, but that could happen anyway, depending on results of other games.
That means capturing the Cascadia Cup competition between Vancouver, Seattle and Portland is one of the few bragging opportunities the Whitecaps can still secure for their fans.
“It doesn’t have the significance probably for the rest of the league as it does in the Northwest and with our supporters,” said club president Bob Lenarduzzi, who also played for the Tacoma Stars. “But it does with our supporters. I think being able to claim something, it’s got to be motivating for us because it’s been a very difficult first year.”
The Sounders have much else to play for this season, as they remain alive for MLS Cup, the Supporters Shield, the U.S. Open Cup and Champions League.
However, coach Sigi Schmid said his team hopes to return home with hardware for its fans.
“You want to do well obviously against your rivals,” he said. “And you want to do well. When I was in Columbus we had the Trillium Cup, which was a series of games we contested with Toronto. We won that every year, and it was really important to our fans. We saw our fans in the hotel drinking out of the cup and everything else. It made you feel good that you were able to win it for your fans. I think it’s the same thing here: It’s something we want to do for our fans.”
Vancouver won the supporters-sponsored cup in 2004, 2005, and 2008. Seattle won in 2006 and 2007. And Portland won in 2009 and 2010.
This season, all three Northwest rivals still have a chance. On a system of three points for a win and one for a draw, Seattle has five points from three games, Portland has four points from three games, and Vancouver has one point from two games.
Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org
Seattle Sounders FC at Vancouver Whitecaps, 7:30 p.m., Ch. 6/16, 97.3-FM SOUNDERS GAMEDAY
SOUNDERS FC (14-6-9; 51 PTS.) AT VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (4-14-10; 22 PTS.)
WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Empire Field, Vancouver, B.C.
TV: KONG 6/16. RADIO: 97.3 FM.
CLUB LEADERS: For Seattle: G 8, Alvaro Fernandez; A 12, Mauro Rosales; S 88, Fredy Montero; SOG 32, Montero; GAA 1.07, Kasey Keller. For Vancouver: G 10, Eric Hassli; A 8, Davide Chiumiento; S 67, Camilo; SOG 28, Camilo; GAA 1.64, Joe Cannon.
HEAD TO HEAD: In their only MLS meeting, the clubs played to a 2-2 draw June 11 in Seattle.
NOTES: With a win or tie, the Sounders will clinch a spot in the MLS playoffs, while a loss would eliminate the Whitecaps from playoff contention. A Seattle win also would give the Sounders this season’s Cascadia Cup, a round-robin competition among the three Northwest teams of MLS. … Seattle is 10-2-4 over its last 16 MLS matches, although one of the draws came at home to the Whitecaps. … Vancouver has the fewest wins in MLS. All four victories have come at home, where they are 4-3-5 and have won their last two. … Former Sounder Pete Vagenas has appeared in 13 league matches for the Whitecaps. … Vancouver has the fewest goals in MLS (28) and put the fewest shots on goal (106). The Whitecaps are second-to-last with a 1.64 goals-against average. … This is Vancouver’s final appearance at Empire Field before moving to the renovated retractable-roof BC Place next weekend. … Rosales is out with an MCL sprain. Tyson Wahl is out due to disciplinary suspension. Osvaldo Alonso, Eric Friberg, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Montero are one caution away from yellow-card suspension. … The referee is Jair Marrufo.
QUOTABLE: “They’re a dangerous team because it’s a big game for them. It’s their last game at Empire, so that’s important to them as well. On the offensive side of the ball, I think they’ve got some weapons. I think Hassli’s a good player. Camilo has done well for them on the flank. The Brazilian (Davide Chiumiento) is a good technical, skillful player who can make things happen for them.” – Sounders coach Sigi Schmid on the Whitecaps.
NEXT: The Sounders return to CONCACAF Champions League play at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Comunicaciones of Guatemala. Their next MLS game is 4:30 p.m. Oct. 1 at New England.
Don Ruiz, staff writer