by Charles Therrell (DISK DOKTOR)
Greetings to my brothers and sisters in Green. The time has come to contest the 22nd MLS Cup Finals. You know how this works. People in our communities start wearing bulky sweaters and talking about universities American football, staking out the best possible turkey option for Thanksgiving, or Tofurkey if you’re feeling benevolent.
But for our lot, there’s something else brewing on tap in addition to all that. The MLS Cup Finals. The tournament began last Wednesday and will carry on through to the Final match, to be played at the home of the highest seeded of the two finalists on 9 December.
The knockout, play-in round is over (played last Wednesday and Thursday), seeing Houston, NY Red Donkeys, Columbus, and Vancouver through to the Quarter-Finals. So the die has been cast, and we must play a two-legged cup-tie with our auld rivals, the Whitecaps FC.
If you’re making the trip up north, mind yourself and be properly loud at BC Place. If you’re headed to a viewing party at a participating local pub or hosting a home viewing with friends, be together as one Green family and drink, chant, and sing your hearts out being mindful to replace them in your chests afterwards. A good result on Pacific Boulevard would go a long way towards clinching the tie in Seattle this Thursday night in the second leg, under the lights at Royal Brougham Park.
Mark the dates and times in your books, and fasten that seatbelt. This promises, as always, to be one woolly ride. The time is nigh. Let our MLS Cup journey begin. Before kick-off, join me in the auld toast: TO THE SEATTLE SOUNDERS FOOTBALL CLUB…AND VICTORY!!!
The Good News
Although Vancouver had a reasonably good home record in the league, they weren’t invulnerable, winning only nine of 17 at BC Place. The Caps finished one place behind us in the league, 8th to our 7th, and conceded 10 more goals than us during the season.
We finished 1-1-1 against Vancouver in the league this season, soundly beating them 3:0 in our last meeting. Our recent form over the last five matches (3-0-2) is a bit better than our opponents’ (2-1-2).
We strung two strong victories in Seattle to end the year, outscoring our opponents by a combined 7:0. The lads seem prepared, and sharp. The combination of all these positives has me bullish about our chances to win the tie.
The Bad News
We have yet to play a match in the MLS Cup, whereas our rivals played a single-elimination match at Pacific Boulevard, unceremoniously thrashing unsuspecting San Jose 5:0.
Vancouver are only missing two players due to injury, and seem to be thriving without them. We, in sharp contrast, may be missing Morris (pace, scoring, and physical strength), Alonso (spiritual leader and the sharpness in the teeth of our defensive midfield), Evans (leader and talisman of campaigns past), Rodriguez (artistry, technique, and forged by the best La Liga could throw at him), and Svensson (easily the most versatile player in the squad, can play any midfield position as well as centre-half).
Evans is likely out for certain and hasn’t played in a very long time. As far as the rest of that bunch there’s no way to predict what their status is, and in the cagey tradition of cup football, Brian Schmetzer ain’t tellin’.
All things considered, we’ve done well in the last two matches, although both Rodriguez and Svensson were healthy in the 4:0 demolition of The Dallas. Neither were present in the 3:0 victory over Colorado in the league finale.
The penalty awarded to Colorado last week for Harry Shipp’s handball is the type of mental mistake that shouldn’t be happening at this time of year.
Old Man Dempsey has gone and gotten himself sent off again, and as a result will be a spectator for tonight’s match. Leaving us a short list of strikers that includes Will Bruin, Lamar Neagle, and Seyi Adekoya.
The unknown. This is the first meeting of the two clubs in the MLS Cup. Our most recent match against Vancouver was a 3:0 triumph. But that was in Seattle, and also was a league match.
Our last match at Vancouver was a 1:1 draw seeing Montero cancel out Lodeiro’s first-half strike on 64’.
The Sounders side that lost 2:1 in Vancouver in April bears little resemblance to the current squad, and that’s a good thing.
Score Prediction by Metric
(SGF+VGC)÷2 : (VGF+SGC)÷2 = VAN 1.31:1.49 SEA
Analysis of result:
From a sample size of 34 league matches. The result is no surprise as in most instances only a fraction of a goal, in this instance, 0.18 goals in favour of the Sounders, separates the teams in question as defined by this metric. Fractions of a goal are un-countable and un-scoreable, therefore this method would generally predict every result as a draw if taken literally.
So, although there’s very little we can take from this equation for the sake of prediction, we can infer that our Sounders seem ever so slightly to be the team more likely to score two goals over 90 minutes of football between these two specific sides relative to their overall performances scoring and defending over the entirety of the league schedule.
Sod it all. What these maths illustrate most clearly is the frustration we all feel at not being able to predict the outcome. It’s fun to compute, but next to useless, practically speaking. At least I tried. Full marks for effort.
Know Thine Enemy
Marinovic, 26, is a New Zealand international. His previous experience is in German football with the bulk of his 100+ appearances coming for SV Wehen II and SpVgg Unterhaching. He recently completed his first season with Vancouver having appeared five times with one clean sheet. He was between the pipes for the Whitecaps’ 5:0 midweek pasting of the Fauxquakes in the MLS Cup play-in round, four days ago. Marinovic has earned 20 New Zealand caps.
Parker, 24, is a domestic product who played his NCAA football at St. Johns, he has played nearly 80 games as a professional.
Waston, 29, has 16 caps for Costa Rica and over 170 appearances as a pro.
Nerwinski, 23, is newly recruited out of UConn (NCAA). The New Jersey native played 72 matches at Storrs, scoring five times. He’s played 19 MLS matches in his first year.
de Jong, 31, developed by PSV Eindhoven is a veteran of 165 matches in Dutch football and nearly 70 matches of German football. He’s played over 30 matches of MLS football and has 55 caps for Canada.
Tchani, 28, is a Cameroonian-born naturalised American developed by Beach FC and Virginia (NCAA) with over 170 pro appearances. He has earned caps for both United States and Cameroon. Tchani moved to Pacific Boulevard just this year after having played 130 times for Columbus.
Ghazal, 25, is an Egyptian national who appeared 107 times for CD Nacional of Portugal before signing with Vancouver this August during the summer transfer window. He has played seven times for the Whitecaps this season.
Reyna, 24, is a Peruvian international developed by Alianza Lima. After playing nearly 50 matches for Alianza he spent the next two years with RB Salzberg, this included loans to two other Austrian clubs and also at Leipzig in Germany. His tour in Austria and Germany saw him feature in 72 matches in all before his transfer to Vancouver this year. He has six goals in 18 matches for Vancouver this season. Reyna has six caps and two goals for Peru.
Bolanos, 33, Developed by Saprissa. Played 170 times in Denmark and Norway. 48 total MLS Matches and five goals for Vancouver over two seasons. Bolanos has 74 caps and six goals for Costa Rica.
Techera, 25, is an Uruguayan national produced by Penarol and River Plate Montevideo. He played for River Plate (the one in Uruguay, not Argentina) 74 times scoring nearly 20 goals before his loan to BC Place. His move has since been made permanent and he has appeared 80 times for the ‘Caps scoring 15 goals.
Montero, 30, We know him all too well. Success at his Colombian teams, then in Seattle, and then in Europe and China. His transfer fee to Sporting Lisbon totalled $2.75M. His transfer fee from Sporting to Tianjin TEDA was €5M. His career goals: matches ratio is over 36%. Montero has played 26 matches for Vancouver this season, scoring 13 goals. He is the most dangerous attacker in the Vancouver side.
Backup goalkeeper, Spencer Richey: This dude is Mister Seattle. Born in Seattle. Played for Tacoma Tide, Washington Crossfire, Puget Sound Gunners, and NCAA career at UDub. Add to this eight USA U-17 caps. Rosales played 86 times for Seattle Sounders FC scoring 12 goals. Montero played 119 times for the Sounders scoring 47 Goals and helped us win three US Open Cups.
Vancouver from: Ousted, Marinovic, Richey, Adekugbe, de Jong, Harvey, Levis, Maund, Nerwinski, Parker, Seiler, Waston, Williams, Bolanos, Bustos, Davies, Flores, Ghazal, Hurtado, Ibini, Igiebor, Jacobson,McKendry, Mezquida, Reyna, Rosales, Shea, Tchani, Techera, Teibert, Greig, Montero.
Sounders FC from: Frei, Meredith, Miller, Alfaro, Fisher, Jones, Leerdam, Marshall, Nouhou, Torres, Alonso, Svensson, Rodriguez, Delem, Kovar, Lodeiro, Mallace, Mathers, Neagle, Roldan, Shipp, Wingo, Adekoya, Morris, Bruin, Neagle.
OUT: Edgar (PCL and MCL), Laba (ACL).
MATCHDAY DECISION: none.
Sounders FC –
OUT: Evans (back).
MATCHDAY DECISION: Alonso (quadriceps), Morris (hamstring), Svensson (hamstring), Rodriguez (quadriceps).
Sounders FC: Dempsey (sent off).
Vancouver: none suspended.
The Sounders FC and the Whitecaps have never met in the MLS Cup.