Cascadia Cup matches have always been filled with passion and intrigue; this weekend's edition between the Whitecaps and Sounders will also have a hint of desperation, as both teams are looking to improve on their 0-2 starts.
We spoke with Dave Clark from Sounder at Heart, and got his take on Seattle's situation so far.
86 Forever: This is your first 0-2 start since 2011. Is this simply a case of not playing to your potential, or are there more fundamental issues to be worried about?
Sounder at Heart: It is both a simple case of not playing to potential (playing down a man for more than a half is pretty awful) and shows there are fundamental issues. Seattle went all-in on a top heavy roster. It is maybe 12 or 13 players deep, with one of those starting the season recovering from an ACL injury. That lack of depth is concern when injury or form force lineup changes. If players like Clint Dempsey, Nelson Haedo Valdez and Jordan Morris aren't performing their backups are an assortment of HGPs and former S2 players that have no history of success at the MLS level. It's frightening and exists everywhere but on the backline (there is depth there). While Sounders scheduled around international breaks this year in order to reduce the demands on their depth, that doesn't avoid injury and the fact that their attacking players are kind of sucky right now.
86 Forever: The loss of Obafemi Martins will without a doubt be felt this season. Who do you hope will pick up the slack up front?
Sounder at Heart: It's got to be a group of players. Martins is one of four or five players that entered every MLS season as a potential MVP. Losing that sucks. Now, Seattle will need to count on a combination of Jordan Morris (we'll get to that) and two of the Summer acquisitions last year - Nelson Haedo Valdez and Andreas Ivanschitz. There may also be a new DP in the near future, but 'Caps fans won't need to worry about that yet.
Valdez is target forward who isn't tall, but still wins the ball well. He has superior hold up play and decent runs. The biggest issue so far for Nelson is that he isn't scoring. He's been in the right spots, so it should probably come. It hasn't yet, but it should.
Ivanschitz is a set-play specialist with a wonderful left foot. He sees the game well and can shoot from distance a little bit. Playing as the primary playmaker on the team his job isn't to score too much, but the team needs him to get 4-6 goals this year, mainly because there isn't an Oba.
86 Forever: How do you see last year’s NCAA player of the year Jordan Morris fitting into the squad this season?
Sounder at Heart: Morris is the Sounders right wing in their 4-3-3, but he plays as a rather narrow version of such, looking to cut in and score rather than cross (ala Zusi). In some matches Jordan will play as the center forward late in the game. At this point his biggest lesson is on timing his runs. He's been offside by less than a yard a half dozen times. Any of those could have been a goal if he or the playmaker had been on the same page. If Morris gets that timing down he'll be the goal scorer that people expect (8-10ish).
Projected Lineup: Frei; J.Jones, Marshall, Z. Scott, Mears; Alonso, Roldan; Ivanschitz; D.Jones, Dempsey, Morris