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Prematch: Whitecaps vs. Sounders

Vancouver follows their impressive home stand with a challenging road trip against the top teams in the Western conference.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Where: Century Link Field

When: Wednesday, Sep. 27, 7:30PT

How: TSN1 - television, TSN 1040 – radio

The ‘Caps travel to Seattle on the first stop of a three-game road stretch that closes out their final five regular season games. These games against three of the top four teams in the Western Conference will determine who sits where come playoff time. Fortunately for the ‘Caps, they sit atop the Conference after an impressive home stand that saw them pick up 10 of a possible 12 points with games in hand on Seattle and Portland. Vancouver’s fate is decidedly in their own hands. They have earned their place at the top of the standings after beating a slew of struggling teams, but it somehow seems the real test is still in front of them.

Vancouver (14-9-6) enters Wednesday’s game against the Sounders (11-8-11) on a seven-game unbeaten streak. Seattle, on the other hand, have four draws, a loss, and one win in their last seven. The ‘Caps have hosted Seattle twice already with a win and a draw.

What is fascinating about this game is how difficult it will be to predict. How good is Seattle, really? They were flying earlier in the season and have recently come down to earth with their last win being six games ago. The loss of Jordan Morris will be a hit for them, however, it is a chance for Spanish signing Victor Rodriguez to assert himself on his new team. They are still undoubtedly a formidable opponent even with their dip in form while Vancouver’s has soared.

More importantly to ‘Caps fans, how good is Vancouver? Their wins have come in games where the ‘Caps struggled to keep possession, consistently gave the ball away and often were heavily outshot. But the ‘Caps have formed an identity for themselves as a counter attacking team that knows what to do with the ball with the reduced chances they get. Much of that offensive swagger comes at the boots of Fredy Montero and Yordy Reyna who have developed some potent chemistry at just the right time. Some fans may be wondering if this tactic that has been so successful against lesser teams will stand up against the likes of Seattle, Kansas City and Portland. Will the shots that have so often sailed over the net by lesser teams become more dangerous at the feet of a more competitive team?

Perhaps, the ‘Caps have only been perfecting their road form at home. They have an impressive road record that includes five wins, and the kind of stats from their home games that cause so much concern among the fan base seem tactically prudent on the road. It may be possible that the sort of game they need to be competitive in these imposing stadiums is exactly what they have been playing for the past 10 games.

And we can’t forget that this is Fredy Montero’s first return to Century Link Field in front of the fan base that he started his MLS career for. Fredy has already hurt the Sounders with goals at home and an away goal or two would be sure nice to see. Montero has become a fan favourite in blue and white with his goal scoring and impressive play of late and, if that wasn’t enough to sway you, check out his well-written article in The Player’s Tribune. As emotional a game this return may be for him, Fredy is a ‘Cap now and he will be there to score goals and win points.

If the ‘Caps win, they clinch a berth in the playoffs and make it a three-team race for the top of the West. If they draw, the ‘Caps keep themselves comfortably above the Sounders with a game in hand. If they lose, the Sounders are still in it for the top seed. I think a draw would be a good result. Dare we hope for more?