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September 24, 2011 at 8:34 AM

Sounders FC vs. Whitecaps FC, preview and prediction

Vancouver Whitecaps FC Logo.jpgSounders FC (14-6-9) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4-14-10)

Saturday, Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m., Empire Field, Vancouver, B.C.

TV/radio: KONG-TV 6/16, 97.3-KIRO FM (Arlo White, Erin Mayovsky)

Spanish TV/radio: THIS-TV/KOMO 4.2 (Comcast ch. 114), La Gran D 99.3 FM

Referee: Jair Marrufo

KEY WHITECAPS PLAYERS

F Eric Hassli — Ten goals scored ranks near the top of the MLS leaderboard and none was more impressive than the one he scored in Seattle. Rate of red cards has slowed since early season issues, but so have the goals. Boasts the size, strength and skill to cause problems for any back line.

D Jay DeMerit — An entertaining follow on Twitter and a quality center back. Has had to overcome some injuries this season, but he’s back at it. A former starter for the U.S. men’s national team, Vancouver will rely on him heavily Saturday with the steady Alain Rochat suspended due to yellow card accumulation.

F/M Davide Chiumiento — I believe he played as a second forward against L.A. and I think he’ll be there again with new DP Mustapha Jarju ineffective so far. A phenomenal playmaker with a team-high eight assists, he also has the versatility to play all over the midfield. Keep an eye on him.

KEY MATCHUPS

Camilo Sanvezzo vs. Zach Scott — James Riley was limited to the bike Thursday, so I’m guessing Scott gets the call. He’ll face a tall task with the Brazilian, who I’m guessing mans the left flank Saturday. Eight goals for the season has made him quite the second scoring option to Hassli.

Mike Fucito vs. Michael Boxall — With Rochat suspended, Vancouver has a hole to fill in the back and I’m guessing it’ll be Boxall. I also expect DeMerit to match up with Fredy Montero for much of the game, leaving Fucito a chance to make the difference. Both of these two are strong, but pace could tip the balance for the Sounders’.

Playing for trophies vs. playing for pride — Seattle’s season has gone swimmingly well. Vancouver’s hasn’t. The Sounders are fighting for playoff position. The Whitecaps are playing for their jobs. The emotions of the last game at Empire Field might provide the hosts a boast, but how motivated will they really be?

PREDICTION

Vancouver is probably better than its record suggests and the Hassli-Camilo-Chiumiento combination is quite good, but Seattle has been in a different class this season. Even without Mauro Rosales, I expect the play to favor the Sounders.

Look for a strong advantage at center mid to keep possession mostly with Seattle. The Whitecaps’ 46 goals allowed are the worst in the Western Conference so I’m guessing there will be chances too.

Get that Cascadia Cup ready…

Sounders FC 3, Whitecaps FC 1

SEA — Hurtado (Fucito) 23′

SEA — Evans (pk) 41′

VAN — Hassli (Chiumiento) 59′

SEA — Neagle (Alonso) 76′

* * *

What do you think? Three more points for the Sounders?

COMMENTS

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