Seattle Sounders FC v. Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Pre-Match Analysis

by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR), Oakland, CA

Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. Once again the Whitecaps descend on the fair city of Seattle for the seventh time in MLS history. We’ve had our struggles against this side, and have been rivals for 42 years. Voices extra loud this day. Hearts extra stout. Supporters far away from Occidental Avenue should staunchly attend their local viewing parties, lending their support and energy from afar. I will be at the CommonWealth in Pill Hill, Oakland, California. Let’s muster up a show of massive strength and indomitable resolve to back our Sounders against their auld rival from the north. A toast from the Diabolical One to our entire Green nation: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB – AND VICTORY!!!

The Good News
The overall series and overall goals for and against are dead even, so statistically, we are as likely as the ‘Caps to take the three points. Provided goalkeeper Stefan Frei passes his fitness test and is on the team sheet tomorrow, there is reason for some optimism as a great portion of the starting team will be fit to play. Having a starting eleven that includes Dempsey, Valdez, Friberg, Ivanschitz, Alonso, and Marshall is always a good thing, as those players are all reasonable threats to score goals, with Alonso and Marshall playing vital roles in defence as well. We have no players suspended for this match. Our opponent has two players suspended in Smith and Froese, and thus they will be unavailable for selection. As Smith was in the team last week, with Froese selected to the substitute’s bench, it looks like Vancouver will be forced to select cover for these players. It’s the type of thing that may give us an edge. Whitecaps first choice goalkeeper Ousted has more caps under his belt than our Stefan Frei. However, Frei has won 6 trophies as a professional footballer with Ousted yet to claim one. Edge to the Sounders FC. Should Frei not be available for selection today, his understudy, Miller, was generally composed and competent in bossing his box in a strong outing marred only by Salt Lake’s late winner in Sandy last week.

The Bad News
We tend to not do that well against the ‘Caps at home. We have only two wins and one draw in six matches in the friendly confines of Royal Brougham Park. Our leading scorers in the league all-time against the Whitecaps no longer play for us. Vancouver’s leading scorer against us, Kekuta Manneh will suit up today, provided he’s fit from a knock to his right ankle sustained last week in Kansas City. Manneh is the only Whitecap ever to score a hat-trick against us (in the MLS era). Sounder mainstays, Torres, Evans, and Friberg are listed as unavailable for selection. Farfan, Frei, Valdez, and Morris are match day decisions. We have lost to Vancouver the last two times we’ve met in the league.

The Rest
Both teams have lost their last three matches, and thus share equally in their poor recent form. All-time bookings in the series are 15 to the Sounders FC, and 21 to the ‘Caps. With recent form adrift, expect both sides to show their teeth.

Most likely to cut down a Sounder – #4 Waston, and #15 Laba.

Most likely to cut down a ‘Cap – Alonso is the most likely suspect with Evans out, add Dempsey if tomorrow proves to be a day when he can’t manage his notorious temper.

Most likely to score for Sounders – Dempsey or Valdez. Both have scored over 100 goals in their careers. Add to those obvious choices, Ivanschitz, Alonso, maybe even Marshall or Joevin Jones on set pieces.

Most likely to score for ‘Caps – #27 Blas Perez is deadly in front of goal with over 200 goals scored in his career. Also likely to score for Vancouver: #23 Manneh if he’s fit, #77 Pedro Morales (75 career goals), #29 Rivero (33 career goals, 23 scored in Uruguay’s top division), #7 Bolaños (51 goals in career) round out the list of usual suspects.

Familiar Faces
Although neither are likely to feature in today’s match for Vancouver, Both defender #22 Christian Dean, and midfielder #17 Andrew Jacobsen were former standouts for the California Golden Bears.

Selections for Last Match
Sounders FC: Miller, Mears, Scott, Marshall, Joevin Jones, Alonso, Friberg, Morris, Ivanschitz, Dempsey, Valdez.

Bench: Lyon (gk), Remick, Alfaro, Sturgis, Darwin Jones, Roldan, Kovar

Vancouver: Ousted, Smith, Waston, Parker, Harvey, Flores, Laba, Techera, Morales, Mannah, Rivero.

Bench: Tornaghi (gk), Kah, Adekugbe, Pérez, Aird, Froese, Kudo.

Injury List
Sounders FC:
OUT – Torres, Evans, Friberg.
MATCH DAY DECISION: Farfan, Frei, Valdez, Morris.

OUT: Dean, Teibert.

Sounders FC: None.
Vancouver: Jordan Smith (Sent off- Serious Foul Play), Kianz Froese (Disciplinary Committee Decision).

Fun Fact
Although the Sounders and ‘Caps have only met 14 times in MLS league play, they have been rivals since 1974 in the USSF Division II, United Soccer Leagues (USA Div II) and the old NASL. Maybe not the same mystique of Villa v. Bolton midlands rivalry which is a century older (both clubs founded in 1874), but hey, you gotta start somewhere.