The Vancouver Whitecaps may be winning matches this season, but a competitve Western Conference sees their playoff position as anything but a sure thing. That's why this weekends match against the Seattle Sounders is so important, with three points on the line and the 'Caps ready to embark on a very busy August schedule.
To gain some insight into what Seattle is bringing to the table, we spoke with Dave Clark, Managing Editor at Sounder at Heart.
Eighty Six Forever: Is Vancouver viewed as a contender, given they are near the top of the Western Conference?
Dave Clark: Anyone ignoring the Whitecaps at this point is foolish. It's a top defense, somehow doing that with Kah involved. Plus, the attack is young and exciting. Maybe people let their hate for counter-attacking soccer take over, but when Vancouver is successful at it they are fun to watch.
Are they the Galaxy, TFC or Seattle (when healthy)? No, but neither is Dallas, or Sporting, or Portland. The West is stacked. One of the bits in that stack is VWFC. Seattle cannot take them lightly.
86F: What is the sounders biggest weakness right now?
DC: Issue one: Scoring when Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins aren't playing. Since there are so many games in August this issue will continue to be a problem. At this point the only solution is one of the other players actually performing well. It's been so long that hope of that is starting to dwindle.
Issue two: Using width in the attack. This is related to the other issue, but it shows up a bit in defense, in that Tyrone Mears is currently the key to getting offensive width. He's the right back, which means the midfield as to compensate for his absence after a turnover.
86F: Where can the Sounders exploit the 'Caps?
DC: On offense, if Kah plays, is to use a lot of lateral movement in spaces where he's supposed to be. Kah is still foul and caution prone. The Sounders should exploit that. An early free kick goal can go a long way to rousing the passion of a fanbase looking for hope.
Secondarily, the Sounders need to absorb the counter and burst right back at Vancouver. That can lead to a lot of long ball, but if that's what's available, take it.
Projected Lineup: Perkins; Remick, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Rose, Alonso, Friberg; Neagle, Dempsey, Thomas