The Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps will square off for the first of three meeting during the 2016 MLS season on Saturday. Both teams are still looking for their first win of the season. It’s still early, but a win by either team will be a huge boost to a slow starting campaign
Slow Start to the Season
Both clubs are coming off 2-1 losses on the road from last weekend. The Sounders lost 2-1 against Real Salt Lake after Jamison Olave scored the winner in the 86th minute on a header. Olave was able to rise above Sounders goalkeeper Tyler Miller and nod home the winning goal. Vancouver had to play the entire second half against Sporting KC down a man after Jordan Smith tackled Graham Zusi from behind. At the time of the red card, Sporting was already in front 2-0 after a first half brace from Dom Dwyer (5’ & 41’) and lost 2-1.
Seattle will be missing Captain and center back Brad Evans (shoulder strain) for the second straight game and Erik Friberg will be out as well. Friberg had to be subbed out in the 18th minute after picking up a knock and it is reported he as a left MCL strain. Nelson Valdez’s status is up in the air as well. He subbed off in second half stoppage time and was seen leaving the field with ice wrapped around his leg.
For the Whitecaps, Kekuta Manneh limped off late in training on Wednesday according to Marc Weber.
Last year the Sounders and Whitecaps faced off three times in MLS play with all three away teams winning by shutout. The Sounders won 2-0 at BC Place on May 16th after Chad Barrett scored his first brace in five years. Two and a half months later, the Whitecaps came up to Seattle and embarrassed the Sounders when Pa Modou Kah scored a brace as well and Vancouver won 3-0. The final meeting of the 2015 MLS season went the Sounders way as the defeated their Cascadia rivals by the score of 3-0.
The two teams also met twice during the CONCACAF Champions League group stage. The two clubs tied 1-1 in Vancouver and the Sounders handily beat the Whitecaps 3-0 at home just a few days after their 3-0 thrashing of the Whitecaps at BC Place.
Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid stated earlier this week that they plan on staying in their 4-3-3 formation despite all the injuries. The first two weeks of the season saw Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris and Valdez at the top of the formation. If Valdez cannot go on Saturday, Oalex Anderson may get his first start in Rave Green. With Friberg out, expect Cristian Roldan to slide in and play his position. In the back, look for Joevin Jones, Chad Marshall, Zach Scott and Tyrone Mears to start. Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei is expected to be back as well. He missed the games against Real Salt Lake due to elbow inflammation he suffered late last week.
Mears-Marshall-Scott (C) -Jones
When these two teams get together, you never know what is going to happen. Both of these teams have the players that can score in bunches, but the Sounders leading goal scorer is Osvaldo Alonso with one. Dempsey, Morris and Valdez have yet to collect a goal or an assist. That shouldn’t last two much longer. For the Whitecaps, Pedro Morales, Jordan Harvey and Kendall Waston each have one goal. The Sounders need to get back on track and start scoring goals or it’s going to be a long season.
Dempsey will break out of his scoring slump in this game in front of 40,000+ at CenturyLink Field, but this one will end in a tie and both teams will pick up their first point of the season.