Two very good Western Conference teams will go head to head this weekend, when the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders re-new hostilities at BC Place. Seattle, of course, sits atop the Conference, 9 points ahead of the fourth place Whitecaps, although Vancouver fans probably know that already.
The Sounders are in tough against their Canadian rivals however; not only has BC Place been a fortress for the 'Caps, Seattle will be missing a few key players. To talk more about that, and other topics surrounding the match-up, we spoke with Dave Clark from our SBNation sister blog, Sounder at Heart.
DAVE CLARK: Yes. Though they stole a point from Portland, the loss to the Crew should have been a draw. Every other result was "fair." With an offense this powerful a team should expect to win a lot of games.
The defense is a bit suspect, but some of that is the curse of wondergoals and set-pieces against. By the end of this month taking on Vancouver away and Salt Lake at home that top spot will be either fully confirmed, or still in doubt.
86F: The Sounders should be a little short-handed thanks to a few USMNT call-ups. How much does that hurt their chances against Vancouver?
DC: It really changes how Seattle plays. Dempsey is clearly important, but less obvious is the impact of losing the club's two best right backs. Without DeAndre Yedlin there is very little width there. Since Evans is also gone Sounders FC have to change how they play on the right. Anibaba nor Scott can get forward like those two. Instead of space behind the RB there will be space in front of them.
Four words on Dempsey isn't enough. He is dynamic, capable of scoring on nearly any touch. He can score and assist while being the rare MLS player that needs to be man-marked where ever he touches the ball. Even missing these next few games and the two for a "cup check" he will be a top three MVP candidate at the All Star Break.
86F: Besides Clint Dempsey, which Sounder has impressed you the most offensively?
DC: Obafemi Martins will also be on that short discussion for MVPs. The former Inter Milan, Newcastle, Birmingham City, Rubin Kazan, Levante man discovered a new skill this year - he's an assist man. He leads MLS in assists. He does that through clever throughballs and seeing sequences of passes. He's also ninth in scoring. He does that things like this. Pacing may be silly at this point but he's looking at a double-double this year.
Notable Absences: Clint Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin, Brad Evans (USMNT Call-ups)
Projected Lineup: Frei; Gonzalez, Traore, Marshall, Anibaba; Neagle, Pineda, Alonso, Pappa; Cooper, Martins