Sounders FC (10-6-7) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (10-8-7)
Saturday, Aug. 18, 1 p.m., CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wash.
TV/radio: KING-5 TV, 97.3 KIRO-FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
KEY WHITECAPS PLAYERS
F Darren Mattocks — Leads Vancouver with seven goals and has starred away from home. Five of those goals have come on the road (amazingly the rest of the team has combined for four). I thought he was extremely dangerous in the previous meeting at BC Place, though his finishing was disappointing. Has exceptional speed. And leaping ability? Well, check out this highlight.
M Barry Robson — UPDATE 9:45 a.m. Robson has been suspended for the game due to “aggravated dissent” in Wednesday’s loss to Dallas. The veteran Scotman joined as a midseason DP by way of Middlesbrough. He’s got 17 caps for the national team and played a few seasons with Celtic FC, which is another nice note on the resume. Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said he likes to hit the long ball and is good at it. He’s started all nine of his games with Vancouver and has two goals (no assists though).
D Lee Young-Pyo — I think the Korean right back is deserving of being in the mix for MLS Newcomer of the Year. He’s the only Whitecap that started all 25 games (tied for a league high). In fact, he’s even played all 2,250 minutes (12 minutes behind LA’s Sean Franklin for the MLS lead). He’s also got assists from the back line, which would be tied for second on the Sounders.
Eddie Johnson vs. Andy O’Brien — EJ has seven goals in his last nine MLS starts and he could be going up against a makeshift Whitecaps defense. Martin Bonjour is suspended due to yellow card accumulation and Jay DeMerit might be out with a concussion. Expect the 6-foot-3 Englishman, signed earlier this month, to get the call for Vancouver. Is it up for it?
Dane Richards vs. Leo Gonzalez — Vancouver coach Martin Rennie wasn’t too thrilled that Richards got called into international duty just to play about 15 minutes off the bench for Jamaica. But that means the speedster should be fine to go Saturday three days later. He has given Seattle’s left back issues in the past; might he be a game-changer?
Fresh/healthy vs. short rest — It’s not often the Sounders are more rested than their opponent going into a game, but Vancouver hosted Dallas on Wednesday and had a few guys out on international duty. Not only has Seattle not played since last weekend, but the team is about as healthy as it’s been all season. Motivation should be high, as well, as covered in my game preview.
This is expected to be the first time we see the new Big Four for Seattle (Montero, Rosales, Johnson, Tiffert), so will there be some adjustment? There was in the first edition of the Big Four, which coincidentally came against Vancouver earlier in the year (exchanging Tiffert for Fernandez). We’ll see how they look.
I think the home crowd might be the difference in this one. The Sounders looked good in front of 60,000 to beat the Galaxy earlier this month and Saturday’s crowd might come close to rivaling that.
I see Seattle’s first home game in the 2012 Cascadia Cup accounting for the team’s first rivalry win of the season (and the first comeback win).
Sounders FC 2, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1
VAN — Darren Mattocks (Barry Robson) 34′
SEA — Eddie Johnson (Christian Tiffert) 41′
SEA — Fredy Montero (Brad Evans) 74′
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What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?