Sounders FC (7-5-3) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC (7-5-5)
Saturday, July 6, 8 p.m., BC Place, Vancouver, British Columbia
National TV: NBC Sports Network (John Strong, Robbie Earle)
Local radio: KIRO 97.3 FM (Ross Fletcher, Kasey Keller)
Spanish radio: La Gran D 99.3 FM
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
KEY WHITECAPS PLAYERS
F Camilo — The Brazilian might be the hottest player in the league. He’s got 10 goals on the season, eight in his last seven games, seven in his last five games. His streak of five-straight games with a goal in the longest in MLS this season. That streak started with a two-goal performance at CenturyLink Field to give the Whitecaps a lead they would eventually give away. He’s got four goals against the Sounders, tied for the most in the head-to-head rivalry in MLS with Fredy Montero.
D Nigel Reo-Coker — Perhaps one of the leading candidates for MLS Newcomer of the Year is mainly a midfielder but has been filling in as an outside back for Lee Young-Pyo. Despite being in his first year with the team and in the league, he’s quickly become a leader (as you can see in this MLS Insider feature from Friday). Has played a team-high 1,379 minutes and has the combination of toughness, skill and experience that any club would want.
F Kenny Miller — The designated player has had his critics, and some thought he might leave midseason, but he’s started the past six games and scored three goals in that span. The last two came in brilliant fashion against New England, but that was four games ago. The Scot has experience with both Rangers and Celtic back home, so clearly he’s got some experience in rivalry games.
Eddie Johnson/Obafemi Martins vs. Brad Rusin/Johnny Leveron — Seattle coach Sigi Schmid made a note of wanting to attack the Whitecaps back line, particularly the center backs, where Vancouver has had some injury issues (Jay DeMerit, Andy O’Brien) and a revolving door of a rotation. The Sounders’ duo could be especially dangerous as Martins is getting hot (six goals) and Johnson always performs in Cascadia Cup games (five goals).
Jun Marques Davidson vs. Servando Carrasco — Both are deep-lying midfielders, so the matchup is less about duels and more about controlling the game. Davidson is solid at distribution, where he helped pick apart the Sounders in a 2-2 tie at BC Place last season. Covering him will be a team effort, both from forwards dropping back and midfielders. Carrasco is in line to start his 10th game in a row, and he says he’s getting more and more comfortable with each one.
Improved Whitecaps vs. Cascadia Cup doormats — Vancouver is actually one of two MLS teams that are unbeaten at home but is also winless against Seattle and Portland in 12 regular-season games in the MLS era (0-7-5). The Whitecaps are well aware of that futility against their rivals, so you can be sure motivation won’t be an issue, which will help overcome short rest after a midweek game in Kansas City.
No result would surprise me, which isn’t all too uncommon in MLS, I suppose. Games at BC Place tend to be wide-open affairs as the Whitecaps’ 18 goals at home are most in the Western Conference, but their 11 goals allowed are tied for second-most (only Chivas USA has allowed more). So I expect goals.
Seattle would get a huge boost if Osvaldo Alonso and DeAndre Yedlin — two game-time decisions — are able to play, particularly against a speedy, dangerous attack.
I think I see this one playing out pretty evenly (boring, I know, but I have nailed the result on three of the past four predictions)…
Sounders FC 2, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
VAN — Kenny Miller (Camilo) 34′
SEA — Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales) 44′
SEA — Lamar Neagle (Brad Evans) 65′
VAN — Camilo (un) 82′
* * *
What do you think? How do you see this one playing out?