Are you ready for another edition of 'Biggest Match of the Season?' Well, it's arriving this weekend in the form of the Seattle Sounders, with both clubs looking for points and the all important Cascadia Cup. We touched base with Dave Clark over at our SBNation sister site Sounder at Heart to talk about the Cup, the 'misunderstood' Seattle defense, and Obafemi Martin's chance for MVP.
86 Forever: How important is the Cascadia Cup to the club, and fans?
Dave Clark: Among the fans it's kind of split. For the diehards, it's a huge deal. But there is an element that is new to soccer, loves the Sounders and is a bit confused. The mainstream sports media in the area will make a huge deal out of the Apple Cup between Washington State University and the University of Washington.They will then mock the Cascadia Cup as some invented thing with no meaning.
There is no dichotomy among the players or the coaches. They want it. Players like to win shiny things. They don't like it when other teams have shiny things. It also helps that three points on Friday night puts winning the Supporters' Shield on simple path.
86F: The attack is clearly working, but how can the club improve defensively?
DC: Seattle's defense is a bit misunderstood. It's actually better than people think it is. That doesn't mean it's great. It may only be a top third defense in the league, but still capable of shut outs at a strong rate. Early in the season they were prone to errors in closing space around the top of the box and out on the right elbow.
Most of the issues related to how Yedlin works are solved, but not completely. The top of the box issues are solved. Now the issue is that the "not Marshall" centerback is a weakness that can be exploited. That's not something that can be easily solved. If the left back can provide support that could be a solution.
86F: Is Obafemi Martins your pick for league MVP?
DC: I've written about this recently, and my feelings don't really change. The numbers are really close. So it really comes down to silly semantics and emotions. I think on the "value" argument Oba has meant more than Keane while BWP and Valeri are really important, but on bad teams. Emotions are pretty easy. Oba plays with a joy and wonderment. His spirit is infectious. That deserves a reward.
Lineup prediction: Frei; Gonzalez, Scott, Marshall, Evans; Neagle, Azira, Alonso, Pappa; Dempsey, Martins