The Vancouver Whitecaps haven't really looked themselves during their mini two-game scoreless slide. A 0-0 draw with Montreal, followed by a putrid effort in a 2-0 loss to the Colorado Rapids has local media questioning whether or not this current squad can get it done, and the general consensus is, they need more help. Still, if the team were to ever prove that they are for real, a strong showing versus the Seattle Sounders today would be a great start.
That won't come easy though, as the Sounders currently sit atop the MLS standings, with a 11-3-2 record. For a bit more Sounder talk, Dave Clark from Sbnation sister blog Sounder at Heart stopped by. We're talking Obafemi Martins, some notable absences for the Sounders today, and that World Cup experience for Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin.
86Forever: Obviously Dempsey has been the story of the season for the Sounders so far, but how about Obafemi Martins? Seems like he's having a very solid year...
Dave Clark: A case could be made that Oba is an MVP candidate. He's kept the Sounders on top of the table without Demsey, Evans and Yedlin during USA camp and the World Cup. Martins sits at fourth in both goals (8) and assists (6), a true double threat.
How does he do it? First, by being a small target man. Though short, his hold-up play is in the top five in MLS at this aspect. His burst speed is unquestionably among the best in the league. Teams that close on him quickly will be punished by his deft passing. He's able to hit Dempsey, Neagle, Barrett and Cooper in the places where they can succeed.
86F: Apparently both Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda will miss the match due to yellow card accumulation. Who replaces them, and how much of a loss is that for Seattle?
DC: That's got to be Brad Evans and Michael Azira (my saying this probably means Sigi goes a different direction). Evans will take over Pineda's role. He isn't the passer that Gonzalo is, but will win more duels, especially in the air. Azira takes over for Alonso. The Ugandan may be able to match Alonso's range, but that's where their similarities end. Alonso can be a Best XI player.
Azira is the 5th best CM on the squad. Overall Seattle will not lose too much defense with these two, but the passing through the middle will be lacking.
86F: Do you think it will take long for Yedlin and Dempsey to re-adjust to MLS play after their World Cup experience?
DC: I don't expect a significant amount of time to adjust. Yedlin played quite similarly to how Sounders FC use him. He bombs forward and has to race back quickly. Speed is his asset. If anything, it will be easier for him. It's not as if he's defending Eden Hazard and Ronaldo in MLS.
Dempsey will go from getting bodied and hacked while riding the line to the underneath spaces where he excels. Both are expected to get their first starts against the Portland Timbers in MLS play in front of 67,000. They should be great.
Significant Absences: Dempsey and Yedlin should not play, but could be at the match. Traore, Rose and Remick are all recovering from injuries.
Lineup Guess: Frei; Gonzalez, Scott, Marshall, Anibaba; Neagle, Evans, Azira, Pappa; Martins, Cooper