The Vancouver Whitecaps will begin their defense of the Cascadia Cup on Friday evening when they host the Seattle Sounders at BC Place. This will be the first match in the annual competition between Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland Timbers. You will recall that the Caps won the title on the last day, defeating Portland at home. Defending their title could prove difficult this season, as the Whitecaps are arguably the worst of the three Cascadia squads.
After being eliminated from CONCACAF Champions League last week, the Vancouver Whitecaps will be focused on Major League Soccer matches until the Voyageurs Cup begins in late May. That is good news, as multiple competitions and injuries have taken their toll on the players and the team’s depth.
Last week’s three matches in 10 days was punctuated by the losses of Erik Hurtado (foot) and Brek Shea (knee). While many did not see them as regular starters, they were important players for the depth of the squad.
With the focus on MLS, expect the very best lineup from the Whitecaps for this one. What will be most interesting for fans though is who Carl Robinson considers to be his Best XI. We can expect leading goal scorer (I just wanted to say that) Matias Laba to be in that lineup, but who will be beside him?
There are rumors that Christian Bolanos acquired a minor knee injury between the Tigres and RSL matches, but expect him to be healthy for this one.
Leading the charge for the Sounders will be Nicolas Lodeiro and Clint Dempsey. While possessing some big names, the Sounders have not gotten off to the best start this season. Like the Whitecaps, the Seattle has only one win this season, but have managed to pickup three draws to Vancouver’s one draw.
Central defender Roman Torres is questionable for this one, as he is dealing with hamstring issue picked up in his last match against San Jose. If he is unable to go, that will be good news for Whitecaps, and Montero specifically, as Torres is a strong defender.
Friday’s match will be important for both squads. First, to get off to a good start in the Cascadia Cup standings, and second, to get back on-track in their MLS season. That could mean a wide-open match, with both teams trying to score, or a tight match with both teams looking to capitalize on the other team’s mistake.
One player that will particularly be looking to shine will be Fredy Montero, who will be playing his first match against his former squad. While Brad Evans made his feelings clear about Montero ‘defecting’ to the enemy. I would expect Montero to get a resounding cheer from traveling Seattle fans...until he scores.
Cascadia matchups are always exciting and have some sort of twist. I expect this one to be no different.