Cascadia Cup play resumes Saturday with a 4 PM (Q13 Fox) match in BC Place. Host Vancouver Whitecaps already have 4 points in the regional cup, though they've played two games to Seattle's one played. With a win Seattle Sounders FC would take over first, while a draw leaves the 'Caps in 1st with Sounders having a game in hand. It's the rivalry that's nothing like hate.
Jon from 86 Forever answers Three Questions.
SaH: How will the midweek game effect Robinson's choices for Saturday?
86er: The midweek match against the Eddies featured plenty of youth in the lineup, and many of the Whitecap regulars were rested. Not included in the starting 11 included Pedro Morales, Octavio Rivero, Mauro Rosales, Matias Laba, Kendall Waston and David Ousted, and I would imagine they'll be ready and raring to go for the weekend. The only question mark is Darren Mattocks, who did get the start on Wednesday. He might be replaced by Kekuta Manneh, who was on the bench. The other change may come at the expense of Mauro Rosales, who looked pedestrian in the win against the Union and ended up leaving the match early due to injury. The diminutive Cristian Techera came in as a substitution and showed some glimpses of why the Whitecaps have added him to the roster.
SaH: In four of the last five Whitecaps games at least one player has been sent off. Two were caps and three opposing players also went to the showers early. Are games particularly aggressive? How does the squad react?
86er: The Whitecaps are a very aggressive team, and seem to get under the opposing teams skin plenty. Kendall Waston, Pa Modou Kah, and Gershon Koffie are not timid at all when it comes to physicality, and when both Waston and Kah are in the starting lineup, the Whitecaps always seem to be dangerously close to crossing the line. More than a few times, they have. The Whitecaps will react to aggression with more aggression, and they're definitely not going to shy away from a physical challenge. That means they rack up the cards, so it's obviously not a great long term playing strategy.
SaH: Who has been the pleasant surprise of the season?
86er: I think it has to be the play of David Ousted so far this season, as he's lifted his game to an elite level. If fans need a quick reference point, he's currently nominated for save of the week, a save that will likely end up as save of the season. He had a bumpy start with the Whitecaps when he arrived in 2013, and many (including myself) grumbled about the club ditching a fan favorite in Alain Rochat so they could afford to acquire the Great Dane. Those critiques seem pretty ridiculous now. He's improved week over week, and this season he has arguably been the clubs best player, making a disjointed 'Caps backline look much more complete than they actually are. He's an essential part of the Whitecaps this season, and his stellar play is a big part of why the 'Caps are fighting atop the MLS standings right now.
Projected Lineup: Ousted, Beitashour, Waston, Parker, Adekugbe, Laba, Teibert, Morales, Techera, Manneh, Rivero
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86er: How do you stop Dempsey and Martins? My uh, friend wants to know.
SaH: The easiest way is to have one of them not play. You're probably in luck, since Obafemi missed practice on Thursday. He could still play, but I'd say that's unlikely. So far I don't know that there is a way to stop them both. With just Dempsey the idea would be to have one of the CBs come out to him and have one of the DMs drop back. That will limit his passing options and force his less-talented-than-Martins teammates to play those intricate passes. There will still be moments of magic, but maybe only one of those is successful.
86er: What's Seattle's biggest weakness?
SaH: Two fans answered this over on our Facebook page.
Tristan says, "It's hard to put my finger on. We've had some inconsistent performances in the defensive side, despite having a decent goals against. The team also seems to lag in adjusting defensively, thinking of the matches against Colorado, NYC, and Columbus. The best bet might be to try to overwhelm Seattle early for a goal, make them chase the lead, sit back to contain ObaDeuce, and try to feast on the quick counter."
Patrick answers, "That we've had trouble finding a midfield partnership that functions properly. That or the lack of a true wide attacking player."
86er: How will the Sounders find success against the 'Caps?
SaH: I see two keys to this game for Seattle. The first is to sit the midfield line a bit deeper so that the the defense can get some help and prevent a goal from space between lines. With three natural central midfielders likely to start they should be able to control Vancouver's attack. The second is to get Waston or Kah sent off. Both are prone to yellows and Dempsey can get under players' skin pretty easily. If Vancouver has to play down a man the weakened Sounders attack will have success. If it is Waston that leaves than look for Sounders to succeed on set-pieces. Without Kah Dempsey and Pappa can play at the top of the 18.
Lineup: Frei; Remick, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Rose, Pineda, Alonso, Pappa; Neagle, Dempsey