Today SBNation.com/soccer posted the previews for our Cascadia brethren to the North and to the South. These, as the one about the Sounders, were written by the bloggers on the network, but are really a great primer to the rivalry. In it I said the following about the Cascadia Cup;
Who will win the Cascadia Cup?
Seattle, handily. While this Cascadia derby will get a ton of hype that will only be because of what is happening off the pitch. During the two-year head start Adrian Hanauer built a team challenging for multiple major trophies while the goals of the other Cascadia sides is to hopefully make the MLS Cup Playoffs. Think of it this way: How many non-Sounders would be on a Cascadia Best XI? Jay DeMerit, Kenny Cooper and... yeah, that's it. Even on in the second XI for a Cascadia team it would include as many Sounders as the other two teams, but with Seattle being clearly better up the spine in both of those exercises I expect at least seven points in the 4 matches.
That's a fairly bold statement, but take a look at the previews again. There isn't a ton of talent there. While the Vancouver Whitecaps seem to building with a solid defense and a very young set of attacking options, the Portland Timbers have thrown their muscle behind a deal that fell through that forced a trade of a quality player (Dax McCarthy) and like Seattle did acquired a proven goalscorer up top.
Seattle though in that first year had Fredy Montero, Kasey Keller, Freddie Ljungberg, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and a slate of former Generation Adidas players on its roster. Now, the Rave Green are even deeper. One could compare the expansion Sounders to these sides, but the 2009 team is not the one that will be in contesting the Cascadia Cup. The 2011 one is. The team taking the pitch at Qwest Field will be one that will be vying to catch-up to the Whitecaps in the trivalry's history.
That team is better on all accounts. Let's look at the team's as if they were on a depth chart for the same team.
I like Rodney Wallace as a defender, and so gave him a slight nudge there. Darlington Nagbe seems to be quite special, and while Alvaro Fernandez is a DP, he hasn't displayed his "wow" yet. At right back any one could finish the season as the best, but for now I'll go with the veteran James Riley. Joe Cannon could wind up as the top keeper but it would mean that Kasey Keller seriously declines and Cannon doesn't get hurt.
Up top and at centerback we see the real depth of Seattle where the back-ups here are better than the likely starters there. Sure O'Brian White and Mike Fucito may be unproven, but we're comparing them to Atiba Harris and the other Eddie Johnson. Patrick Ianni is clearly good.
Next year this should be a contest, but this year not-so-much. The Cascadia Summit this weekend should be further evidence of that.