The reigning Major League Soccer player of the week will be at CenturyLink Field on Wednesday as Vancouver visits Seattle Sounders FC.
Whitecaps forward Camilo Sanvezzo scored both of his team’s goals Sunday in a 2-2 home draw with the Portland Timbers. That result knocked Portland out of this Cascadia Cup competition. Now, the Sounders can claim the 2013 Cup with a win or a draw Wednesday.
A key for Seattle getting a positive result is limiting Camilo, who is second in Major League Soccer with 18 goals and leads the league with three player-of-the-week honors this season.
The third came on the strength of two goals scored within three
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minutes, both bringing the Whitecaps from behind. In the 76th minute, Camilo scored on a deflected free kick from 30 yards. Then, after the Timbers reclaimed the lead, he nailed a scissor-kick volley from the top of the box — an instant goal-of-the-year contender.
The Sounders also have firsthand knowledge of his skill, as he leads the Whitecaps with four career goals against Seattle.
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid was asked what his team must do to contain Camilo.
“Well, not give him any free kicks, that’s for one, because he’s very dangerous on free kicks,” Schmid said. “He’s just in really good form. He’s obviously got goals against us before, so we have to make sure that he doesn’t score on us this time around.”
The Sounders may have gained additional resources to do the job on all three parts of the pitch. Schmid announced Tuesday that forward Obafemi Martins, midfielder Clint Dempsey and central defender Djimi Traore are available and expected to be on the game-day roster.
That could help compensate for the loss of goals leader Eddie Johnson and midfielder Brad Evans to duty with the U.S. national team, and defender Zach Scott to disciplinary suspension for card accumulation.
“Obviously, we have to make positional changes,” Schmid said. “But with Oba coming back in, (Lamar) Neagle’s shown that he can play up front for us as well, and Brad pushed out to the left part of midfield for us in the last game. So now we’ve just got to see who goes into that position out there.”
Vancouver also will have to jiggle its roster, as forward Darren Mattocks (Honduras) and defender Johnny Leveron (Jamaica) have been called in.
Stakes are high for both clubs.
The Sounders are looking to shrug free of a three-game winless streak, including a 5-1 trampling at Colorado on Saturday. A win would send them to the top of the MLS standings, clinch a playoff spot, and wrap up their second Cascadia Cup in three seasons. (Seattle is 2-1-1 in the six-game round robin, Vancouver is 1-1-3, and Portland is 0-1-4.)
The Whitecaps are trying to stave off Cascadia Cup elimination while also fighting for their playoff lives. Vancouver is seventh in the Western Conference, six points behind Colorado for the fifth and final playoff position with three games to go.
“The test against Vancouver will be interesting on Wednesday,” Schmid said. “Obviously, we’re coming into the game with similar type of rest. They had a nice comeback to end up with a tie in their last game, and obviously the game’s an important game for them. But it’s also an important game for us.”
Both teams also have different rooting interests in another MLS match Wednesday: Colorado at San Jose. Vancouver’s playoff quest becomes tougher if the Rapids add points, while a Colorado win or draw would send the Sounders through to the playoffs regardless of other results.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (11-11-9; 42 POINTS) AT SOUNDERS FC (15-9-6; 51)
7 p.m., CenturyLink Field
TV: Ch. 6/16. Radio: 710-AM.
Head to head: Seattle leads the MLS series, 3-1-3, including a home win and a road loss this season. The Sounders lead 2-0-1 at home. In the rivalry dating to 1974 across all leagues and competitions, Seattle leads 63-47-21.
Notes: With a win, the Sounders would move to the top of Major League Soccer and clinch a playoff spot. With a win or draw, Seattle also would clinch the 2013 Cascadia Cup. Even without a result, Seattle would clinch a playoff berth if San Jose does not win against Colorado. Seattle has a club-record 14-game home unbeaten streak (10-0-4). The Whitecaps are 3-8-4 on the road. Vancouver is coming off a 2-2 draw with Portland on Sunday, while Seattle’s last match was a 5-1 loss at Colorado. The Sounders followed their previous two losses with unbeaten streaks of four and seven games. Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said designated player Clint Dempsey, forward Obafemi Martins and defender Djimi Traore are available. However, Seattle will be without leading goalscorer Eddie Johnson and starting midfielder Brad Evans due to U.S. national team duty. Vancouver will be without defender Johnny Leveron (Honduras) and forward Darren Mattocks (Jamaica). Seattle defender Zach Scott will serve the first of a two-game disciplinary suspension for card accumulation. Defenders Leo Gonzalez and Traore are one caution away from suspension. The referee is Juan Guzman. Pink balls and other pink game items will be used as part of MLS’ breast cancer-awareness efforts. Pink fundraising items also will be for sale.
Quotable: “(Winning the Cascadia Cup) is something that we’ve talked about already. And we’d rather do that at home for our fans.” — Schmid
Next: 6 p.m. Sunday, at Portland Timbers.