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June 11, 2011 at 7:25 AM

Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, preview & prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Logo.jpgSounders FC (5-4-6) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (1-6-7)

Saturday, June 11, 7:30 p.m., Qwest Field, Seattle, Wash.

TV broadcast: FOX Soccer (Arlo White, Christopher Sullivan, Keith Bleyer)

Radio broadcast: 97.3 KIRO FM (Thom Beuning)

Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM

Referee: Mark Geiger

KEY VANCOUVER PLAYERS

D Jay DeMerit — Has been hampered by injuries this season, but when healthy he’s one of the best players in the league. It’s not hard to expect that Seattle will be on the front foot tonight, so the stout captain will be called upon often.

F Eric Hassli — Not sure what the biggest stat is: Three red cards? Four goals? Zero road goals? He’s a compelling character, but also a standout talent. A game-changer, and at 6-foot-4, he’s a physical presence that is bound to cause problems.

M Davide Chiumiento — The Swiss playmaker ranks near the MLS lead with five assists already. Under interim coach Tom Soehn he’s been playing more in the inside as an attacking central midfielder, but will he be able to get involved enough for the visitors?

KEY MATCH-UPS

Brad Evans vs. Alain Rochat — The scoring output clearly hasn’t been there recently from the Sounders FC forwards, but I’m not sure the service has been super-solid either. If Evans on the right can wreak some havoc it could be the difference. Though the Swiss defender has started 13 games and is no pushover.

Camilo vs. James Riley — Vancouver’s young Brazilian has production almost identical to Hassli (four goals, 24 shots) and has pushed out wide under Soehn. He produced a great goal in last week’s 1-1 tie against Chivas USA. Seattle’s right back is the workhorse in the back, leading team defenders with 1,139 minutes played.

New Whitecaps vs. Old Whitecaps — This is the first full week Vancouver has had under it’s new coach. The Sounders certainly have an idea of what to expect by now in terms of formations, personnel and tactic, but you have to expect the visitors will be a little more settled and organized. They’ll surely feed off the crowd as well.

PREDICTION

Usually it’s hard to predict anything in a rivalry game. That said, it’s hard to see Vancouver coming out of Qwest Field with a point. I have a feeling the Whitecaps won’t see much of the ball, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be chances on the counter — perhaps Sounders FC biggest vice.

I thought Fredy Montero would be back last week, so I’ll guess again that he starts. He was sharp early in the week in finishing and neither of the other forwards have scored in his absence. But whenever a prediction seems easy, it rarely plays out that way. Here goes…

Sounders FC 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 0

SEA: Brad Evans (Lamar Neagle) 9′

SEA: Montero (Mauro Rosales) 61′

* * *

What’s your pick?

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