SEATTLE SOUNDERS vs. VANCOUVER WHITECAPS
SEATTLE: 51pts (15W-9L-6D); 2nd in Western Conference, 4th in MLS
VANCOUVER: 42pts (11W-11L-9D); 7th in Western Conference, 14th in MLS
Now, I know we're all super-excited about that golazo by Camilo Sanvezzo. It was the end result of a deft run by Darren Mattocks and a sublime cross by Young-Pyo Lee; plus, it shut those damn Timbers Army hooligans up right after Will Johnson scored. You can't put a price on that. (To all three of our TA readers: hello! Thanks for stopping by. You have a lovely city. So help me, if Blue Star Donuts ever goes out of business, I might need therapy.)
Sorry, where was I? Right - it's time to calm down, everyone. A pretty goal is nice and all but it only netted the Whitecaps a draw. In case the point totals a few lines ago didn't make it clear, a single point is not going to get you into the playoffs. Mathematically speaking, the playoff dream is not dead; it is still possible for the 'Caps to catch both Colorado and San Jose and, with some timely offense, beat both clubs on tiebreakers. Hey, know what else is mathematically possible? Turning $3 into $3,000,000 or more. Guess how often that's happened recently? Answer: slightly more often than the MLS-era Whitecaps have won a league game in Seattle which, incidentally, is what the Whitecaps need to do on Wednesday for the first time since entering the league.
Isn't optimism grand?
But seriously, it does look pretty dire for the Blue-and-White considering they need to win away to Seattle and Colorado (who recently thrashed Seattle 5-1 at altitude) before closing out the campaign with a win at home against those same Colorado Rapids. Heck, even if you take a short view and ignore the playoffs in favour of the Cascadia Cup - a view I am forcing myself to take as a sanity safeguard - the Whitecaps still need a victory against the Sounders followed by the Timbers doing us a solid and holding Seattle to a least a draw. (Once again, to our TA contingent: Ground Kontrol is a fantastic place and, had I the spare time and the quarters, I would've spent my entire vacation there. So, about that draw...?) As daunting as a victory at CenturyLink sounds, it might not be as impossible as it once was to get three points out of the Emerald City. Consider: the last match was a 3-2 loss that only really turned sour once Andy O'Brien was forced off the field with an injury and Greg Klazura was brought in. With Klazura's inexperience blasting like '90s grunge from the average Seattle car radio, holding a 2-1 lead went from "plausible" to "not" and the home team rallied for two goals to seal the victory. If Jay DeMerit and Carlyle Mitchell can avoid injury and stay on the field for the full 90 minutes - and, let's be honest, if Jordan Harvey can remember where the left-back position on the field is and stay there - a miracle on par with an Eric Hassli wonder-strike may not be necessary to take all the points on Wednesday after all.
Further helping the Whitecaps is the convenient inconvenience of this week's CONCACAF qualifying fixtures. With Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson called up to the U.S. Men's National Team, the Sounders first team corps loses two valuable pieces. Add on the news that Zach Scott is suspended and Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey may not be available for the mid-week tilt due to injury and suddenly an adventure at the C-Link seems about as scary as a walk in the park. Well, all right, except for Lamar Neagle having a career year and Mauro Rosales still capable of delivering lethal service and DeAndre Yedlin proving to be a breakout star at fullback and Michael Gspurning's kinda good. Plus, Sigi Schmid's won a few trophies. Oh, and there's that whole +17 home goal differential and season average of 11.7 shots per 90 minutes (of which 3.73 shots are directed on goal per 90). Hey, remember when Real Salt Lake sent their reserves up to BC Place and won? One would hope the 'Caps have learned their lesson about underestimating a deep team with more than competent coaching.
At the end of the day, this is another road match - Vancouver's current road record: 3W-8L-4D, -7 goal diff. - to one of the most imposing venues in Major League Soccer with zero margin for error. A win is a huge ask, but it's all the Whitecaps have left. Try not to get your hopes up too high.
Seattle 1 - 1 Vancouver
Neagle 50', Camilo 68'
Ousted; Harvey, DeMerit, Mitchell, Lee; Koffie, Davidson, Reo-Coker; Manneh, Camilo, Teibert