Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8th in West, 9-8-10) vs Seattle Sounders (1st in West, 16-5-6)
Location: BC Place, Vancouver
Date and Time: October 2nd, 10:00 pm EST, 6:00 pm PST
Watching: TSN (in Canada) & MLS Live on ESPN+ (in US)
As Canadian soccer fans are still enjoying the points taken from Mexico at the Azteca, MLS Soccer waits for no one when putting the teams back in action. As such, the Whitecaps find themselves going up against current Western Conference leader Seattle Sounders. The Whitecaps current are depleted of Maxime Crepeau, Lucas Cavallini and Javain Brown, which is a sizable blow to their backline. Luckily, Brian White’s recent form has landed him the glory of being top scorer with 10 goals to his name. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Seattle are down some very important players to the tune of Raul Ruidiaz, Nouhou, Cristian and Alex Roldan, and Xavier Arreaga. This could provide an opportunity for the Whitecaps to capitalize on, but more on that later.
First off, we have to look at the ‘Caps’ recent form, which following last game is red hot to say the least. Three goals from Brian White settled an emphatic victory over the Earthquakes and pushed the Whitecaps closer to playoffs. My complaints of low goals was answered in a big way through that stellar performance. The team is currently riding on a high, and this could be a really good thing, considering the caliber of opposition. It’s unfortunate that a couple of key pieces won’t be there but there are enough to believe that something could be grabbed from the last visit to Lumen Field this year.
The attack is functioning great, and without losing any current key players to the international break, they’ll be free to fire on all cylinders. Brian White can hopefully continue with his form and Gauld will of course be creating plays. Dajome and Caicedo both provide wide attacking options as per usual, so not really much to say about the attack or midfield, other than continue doing what they’re doing. Defensively, again the three at the back formation is working out great, although whoever is covering for Brown (More than likely Gaspar if Nerwinski is used at center back) will have a lot of work to do for chance creation. Sartini at this point has an understanding of how the team works and how to line the team up, I would be surprised with a radical change come gametime.
The assuredness of the Whitecaps game will be bolstered by the losses for Seattle. The removal of the Roldan brothers seriously affects their creativity and with Arreaga gone as well, the Sounders will have to line up a different CB partnership than usual. This could play in the Whitecaps’ favour, along with Nouhou Tolo’s absence preventing them from putting him in as a makeshift replacement. Arguably their biggest loss would be at striker with Raul Ruidiaz off in South America at Peru’s World Cup qualifying games. With 16 goals to his name, he is far and away on his own teams scoring charts, leading the Sounders to line up his most likely replacement in the familiar Fredy Montero. Those watching the Whitecaps before this season will be keenly aware of Montero and his abilities, as well as his limitations, perhaps no one more than his former teammates. This bodes well for the Whitecaps, as they will recognize his game and be able to hopefully nullify his threat. Without Montero, the next available Sounder’s goal tally is at 3, making Thomas Hasal’s job a LOT easier.
Following my pessimism from last match, I think I’ll probably be positive this time around and predict a favourable result for Vancouver. I believe this is a very good opportunity for them to grab 3 points at a point where Seattle arguably could be at their weakest, so it’s all about capitalizing on this fact. Despite their losses from international duty, I can see the Whitecaps getting a 1-0 Victory, stunning their Cascadian rivals in their own home.
Eighty Six Forever Staff Picks:
Caleb: 1-1 DRAW
Ian: 2-1 SEA
Andrew: 2-2 DRAW
Sam: 2-1 SEA