Stop me if you've heard this one before; the Vancouver Whitecaps are facing a "must-win" match tomorrow. I know, the media tends to beat that horse to death almost every single day, but the 'Caps are running on borrowed time, and they must make the most of it.
On the flipside, Seattle is in playoff positioning, but must secure its spot with some good performances down the road. Playing a hungry 'Caps team will be a challenge for them as well, although the 'Caps have to be considered the underdog.
Dave Clark, editor at Seattle Sounders blog, Sounder at Heart, has shared his thoughts on the match, and while we may have varying opinions about aspects of the game, we both agree on one thing; this is going to be one hell of a match.
86Forever: The Sounders made a splash in the off-season, bringing in Obafemi Martins. How's he been playing for you guys?
Dave Clark: Oba's been good. He's adapted to MLS quicker than many older DPs that come over from Europe. His numbers are pretty good, but what is clear is that he's got great "MLS" skills. He's fast, willing to use his body, energetic and shoots often enough to endanger the goal. Seattle's offense will try to spring him over the top, with throughballs or hope that he picks up a rebound.
He is also quite expressive. This isn't a distant Henry, but a man who shares his joys and angers in every match. He's got a knack for winners and amazing misses. Even without the Dempsey addition, Seattle changed things when they pursued and signed a man away from Levante.
86: Seattle is in a playoff spot, but have scored just 40 goals all season. Is that a concern moving forward, or can this club score goals?
DC: With the talent on the squad, the offense shouldn't be so poor. Yet, it is. If Seattle makes a run in the MLS Cup Playoffs the attack has to get better. A good to great defense and an attack that performs at its talent level will dominate. If the struggles to connect from the midfield to the forwards or the over-passing around the 18 continue, then Seattle will fall out of the playoffs as they have before. They may win a series, maybe even two, but without the offense putting up a goal and a half a game or more, the second season is going to end too early.
86: Have the 'Caps arrived as a heated rival for the Seattle Sounders?
DC: No. This is an idealistic rivalry. The type that thoughtful sports personalities dream every team has. There will not be the anger on the pitch nor the venom in the stands. It will be harsher than most clubs, but nowhere near Portland and probably not near what is felt towards LA. But, it matters.
Rivalry doesn't need to be hate. It can be two teams that want victory with the depth of their souls and yet are unwilling to break rules and have fans that come to blows (even verbal ones). The best example of that is probably the USA's Army-Navy game. They don't hate each other. They are clearly rivals. That's kind of like what Vancouver and Seattle have, without the going to war together.
It helps that there is a trophy on the line.
Projected Lineup: Gspurning; Gonzalez, Traore, Hurtado, Yedlin; Alonso; Neagle, Evans, Rosales; Dempsey, Martins
Significant Absences (injury, callup): Shalrie Joseph (injured), Eddie Johnson (USMNT), Brad Evans (USMNT), Zach Scott (suspension)