ON October 9, 2013, one year ago Thursday, Vancouver Whitecaps FC descended upon CenturyLink Field and left with three points after cruising to a historic 4-1 victory over Cascadia rival Seattle Sounders FC.
The win kept Vancouver’s playoff hopes alive, and as it turned out, clinched the club’s fourth Cascadia Cup title, making them the most successful team in tournament history.
Here we go again.
Whitecaps FC will be looking for history to repeat itself on Friday, when they return to CenturyLink Field one year later with an opportunity to defend the Cascadia Cup and bolster their playoff chances.
Kickoff for Friday’s match is set for 7 p.m. PT at CenturyLink Field. You can watch the match live on TSN1, Bell mobile devices, and TSN GO. The match will also air live on TSN 1410 VANCOUVER and tsnradiovancouver.ca, including a pre-game show at 5 p.m. PT and a two-hour post-game show immediately following the match.
The ‘Caps need a win to successfully defend their Cascadia title – any other result would see Seattle lift the trophy on home soil.
As for the Western Conference playoff race, Vancouver currently trail Portland Timbers by two points for the final playoff spot, though the ‘Caps have a game in hand. After Friday’s tilt at Seattle, both teams will have two matches remaining.
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC
The ‘Caps are coming off a pair of wins over Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas – the two teams directly above them in the Western Conference standings. If they pick up a win on Friday, it would be the first time all year they’ve won three straight matches.
Sebastian Fernandez and Mauro Rosales led the way for Whitecaps FC in their most recent outing – a 2-0 win over FC Dallas last weekend at BC Place. Fernandez bagged a first-half brace and Rosales assisted on both of the goals.
Rosales, who spent three seasons with Sounders FC, will no doubt be a central figure again on Friday. The Argentine playmaker has a team-high 11 assists this season – three of which have come in a Whitecaps FC uniform.
However, Fernandez, who was named MLS Player of the Week, won’t be available on Friday due to caution accumulation. Striker Darren Mattocks and centre backs Carlyle Mitchell and Christian Dean are also away on international duty.
With Fernandez sidelined, it could open the door for second-year winger/striker Kekuta Manneh to make his first start since August. The young Gambian became the youngest MLS player to score a hat-trick in last year’s historic win over Seattle.
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
Sounders FC (19W-9L-3D), who already won the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup earlier this year, enter Friday’s contest as the frontrunners for the MLS Supporters’ Shield. As it stands, Seattle and LA Galaxy both have 60 points, which is eight more points than the next closest team, but the Rave Green hold the tiebreaker with a league-high 19 wins.
Like Vancouver, Seattle are also coming off back-to-back victories. And as has been the case for much of the season, the attacking duo of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins were front and centre. The two players racked up a combined six goals and two assists over the last two games, increasing their combined total to 31 goals and 19 assists.
Dempsey has yet to face Vancouver this season, but he’s expected to be in the mix on Friday. On the other hand, Dempsey’s U.S. men’s national team teammate DeAndre Yedlin, who will join English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in 2015, is away on international duty and will not be available.
Friday’s match will be the third and final meeting between Vancouver and Seattle this season. The ‘Caps are undefeated thus far, earning a 2-2 draw in May and 1-0 victory in July. Dating back to last year, Whitecaps FC are actually undefeated in four straight meetings with Seattle (3W-0L-1D).
Since joining MLS, the ‘Caps have posted a 3W-3L-4D record against their longtime Cascadia rivals.
The Blue and White visit San Jose Earthquakes next Saturday, October 18 at Buck Shaw Stadium (7:30 p.m. PT, TSN1), before returning to BC Place for their regular season finale on Saturday, October 25 against Colorado Rapids.
Vancouver’s regular season finale will also be “Fan Appreciation Day” and recently retired Jay DeMerit will be honoured prior to the match. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.