Saturday's defeat to the Sounders brought the worst out of a decidedly bipolar Whitecaps fan base, however there is reason to believe that the same 3-0 loss can harness the best out of the guys on the field. Resilience has been a common theme throughout Carl Robinson's tenure at the helm, and that mental fortitude will have to be relied upon once more if the Blue and White are to regain their momentum down the stretch. There is a case of ambivalence among most supporters with regards to Champions League soccer - some are excited by the benefits of participation, others are evidently sceptical of its effect on MLS play - but the players will head into CenturyLink Field with their hearts set on victory. At the end of the day, what else really matters?
How to go about improving on the weekend's effort may be deciphered by the personnel Robbo employs. Nico Mezquida wreaked havoc down in Washington at the beginning of August, and should be prepared to feature heavily having been used from the bench in the Cascadia Cup decider. If the team can adopt that same urgency against what most anticipate to be a weaker line-up than the eleven Sigi Schmid fielded at BC Place, the odds of success would seem decent for the visitors. Buoyed by a hunger to make amends, the prospect of this energy coming to fruition is rather tantalizing. That said, it will take a collective effort from the first whistle to the last for this cavaliering approach to reap the same rewards it did back in the summer. The Rave Green looked a shadow of the side that overcame the Caps so emphatically a few days ago at that juncture of their season.
What truly distinguished Vancouver and Seattle on Saturday was discipline. While the two clubs have exchanged fortunes through most of the year, the Sounders can draw on the competence achieved by their sustained prominence among Major League Soccer's elite. Robinson's group source their resilience from their ambition, whereas Schmid's men draw on their experience. With their backs against the wall they were charged up by that external motivation, punishing the hosts for their naivety and lack of clinical finishing by extinguishing hope just as a comeback appeared a foregone conclusion. At this point in time measured caution would be a worthy supplement to youthful exuberance, and for that reason a happy medium should be pursued between the older and young members of the very complete and varied roster currently at the head coach's disposal.
Much like the previous encounter (in MLS), this midweek fixture comes with winner takes all implications. A win for either team would secure top spot in Group F, while a draw would knock Seattle out and set up the same situation when the Whitecaps travel to Honduras on October 22nd. Considering the significance of the playoff seedings, it would obviously be optimal for Robbo if the inconvenient trip to Tegucigalpa was rendered meaningless. Ergo, there's extra onus placed on winning in closer surroundings. For this reason, my predicted XI reads: Tornaghi; Smith, Waston, Parker, Adekugbe; Laba, Teibert; Froese, Mezquida, Mattocks; Earnshaw. I am reluctant to abandon my optimistic principles so I'll back a narrow 1-0 outcome for Vancouver, with another clutch contribution from Kianz Froese. You can catch the action from 7 p.m. PT on Sportsnet One/Sportsnet World, or alternatively you can listen to radio coverage on TSN1410.