The Vancouver Whitecaps are just one day away from trying to make history at B.C. Place; finally, FINALLY topple their Cascadia Cup Rivals, the Seattle Sounders. They looked like they might do it a couple of weeks ago, when they lead 2-1 and were carrying the majority of the play. Then Andy O'Brien went down, and we all know how that turned out.
In any case, given the size of this match, it only seemed natural that we get the thoughts of each 86forever scribe. (No, Rob Scott has not been kidnapped, or replaced, the lucky guy is just on vacation)
Hey, remember when I predicted that mid-week match against Sporting KC would be an ugly, grinding loss? Thank goodness I was wrong. For all its nail-biting, hair-losing moments, that match was very entertaining even when SKC decided it was done fooling around and wanted all three points.
Now, having fully earned a point on the road, the Vancouver Whitecaps get to come home and play against a Cascadian rival with offense out the wazoo, some serious swagger and a couple U.S. national team players on the roster. I feel like I've heard this song before, minus the "swagger" part, and I don't like it. I thought we left the likes of Sporting KC out east; turns out their better cousin was waiting for us at home.
Well, maybe that's a bit unfair. Without Osvaldo Alonso -- at this point, Ozzie is listed as "questionable" with a quad strain -- the Seattle midfield is a shadow of its former self. Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson aren't Fredy Montero, which is good. That said, they're still Obafemi Martins and Eddie Johnson, which isn't so good.
Yet for all my caution and non-committal waffling towards a positive Vancouver result, the 'Caps have taken points off of tough road teams and beatable weak teams. They're confident, playing well and have pulled through the worst of an injury crisis. The loss of Russell Teibert and Carlyle Mitchell hasn't been disastrous after one game, though it hasn't been unnoticed either.
Final point: during Vancouver's MLS era, they have yet to take three points off a Cascadian rival. That needs to end immediately and I'd suspect the players and coaches know it just as well as we do, if not more.
PREDICTION: VWFC 2 - 1 SSFC VAN: Camilo, Heinemann SEA: Johnson
As far as regular season matches it doesn't get any bigger than this one does it? The dreaded Rave Green Seattle Sounders with a substantial travelling support are coming to town. What do I expect? Well it's going to be a typical derby match for sure.
The atmosphere at BC Place will be electric and both sides are hungry for the points and bragging rights on offer here. This is a big test for the Whitecaps who are still winless in Cascadia during their MLS tenure thus far. Win and the ‘Caps will open the gap to five points over the Sounders - lose and they're a point behind.
This is the kind of rivalry and match that makes soccer so big & popular all over the world. I know the ‘Caps will want to exact revenge for the recent loss to the Sounders back in June and I expect them to come out and take the game to Seattle early.
Based on recent performances and pure gut instinct I think the Blue & White will finally win in Cascadia by a score of 2-1.
Predicted (unorthodox!) starting XI: GK Knighton * LB Harvey * CB O'Brien * CB Rusin * RB Lee * DMF Leveron * MF Koffie * MF Reo-Coker * MF Daigo * F Miller * F Camilo
Tip of the day: for those going to the match, get to your seats early and help pump up the atmosphere for our beloved Whitecaps (not only because we love them, but on the flip side that's exactly what the ECS are going to do and we all know we can do better than Seattle, right guys?)
The last time these two teams met, we learned just how cruel the football gods can be; Shortly after trading a beloved defender in Alain Rochat, Andy O'Brien went down with injury and the team crumbled in the city of rain, coffee and Frasier Crane.
Now, Arthur Miller couldn't have written a better scenario; a chance for redemption, a chance to win against a hated rival in front of 20,000 screaming fans, and a chance to bump themselves a little higher in the standings. Of course, that's the best case scenario. The worst case, or should I say, the case that's repeatedly happened ever since the Whitecaps joined MLS.
The 'Caps attack is not going to be as good without Russell Teibert, we know that. We know that if Daigo Kobayashi or Matt Watson slot in for him, the Whitecaps are going to sacrifice those great setups and creative play. Now, if Nigel Reo-Coker is pushed further up, essentially used the same way he was in the L.A. Galaxy match, instead of playing the holding midfield role or right back, then the Whitecaps will still have a strong presence feeding Kenny Miller and Camilo the ball.
On the backline, the Whitecaps appear to finally be healthy, with Andy O'Brien set to rejoin the recently healed Brad Rusin at Centerback, while YP Lee should be refreshed and ready to go after getting two road matches off.
Finally, Brad Knighton get's his last chance to prove the starting goalkeeper position is his, with David Ousted eligible to play after July 9th. Knighton has been good, not great, and he surely can't be blamed for just making the saves he's supposed to. According to people much wiser about the game than I am, Ousted will be able to make the sensational, 'how-did-he-do-that?' saves that Knighton can't. Unless Knighton can will this team to a win against Seattle, I can't see him manning the twine for much longer.
With a stronger backline, and (hopefully) a suitable replacement for Russell Teibert, the Whitecaps won't be as stunted as they were the last two matches. If Camilo and Kenny Miller can keep their great seasons going, if Brad Knighton comes ready to play, and Andy O'Brien's hamstring is fully healed, the Whitecaps just might pull this one out.
They've beaten the L.A. Galaxy, they've topped the New York Red Bulls. This is a squad that can beat top teams in MLS, and it's about time they put a hurt on Seattle. While my brain says Sounders, my heart says Whitecaps win 1-0.
Projected Lineup: KNIGHTON, LEE, O'BRIEN, RUSIN, HARVEY, WATSON, KOBAYASHI, KOFFIE, REO-COKER, MILLER, CAMILO.