Seattle is desperate. Well, pretty desperate. A 0-2-0 -2 start, scoring one goal and giving up three. We've seen Erik Friberg play a whole 18 minutes of football this year. There is a team about as desperate as Seattle, though. Vancouver is also an MLS Cup contender (supposedly), and was expected to continue growing from last year's great season. An aggressive defense that held opponents to a league-low 36 goals in 34 games with Kendall Waston and Tim Parker leading it has given up five in two matches. Didier Drogba scored a whole zero against them in a 3-2 loss to Montreal.
Instead of an aggressive nature that has led to a league-low in goals against, it has instead led to three suspensions, with two coming from retroactive decisions. The 'Caps will be without RB Jordan Smith and CM/RM/RB Kianz Froese. Fraser Aird, on loan from Rangers, will get the start at RB with Smith suspended. The top defense is tied for most goals against this year, as Waston and Parker are spending about half of every match seemingly forgetting about marking players. They are still one of the best tandems in the air and the Sounders do not have a leader among the strikers when it comes to winning aerial duels. Valdez is healthy, but Waston showed how he could dominate smaller target types in the past. Deuce has the height to win balls but is rarely in the position to receive the cross (typically in the hole behind the striker or on the wing), and Jordan Morris will likely lose the physical battle inside, though could win a few as a late runner or at the far post.
Offensively Seattle will have to keep it on the ground once they get near the 18 if they want to score, which is the preferred method when you have both Dempsey and Ivanschitz in the middle. This should benefit the Sounders, but will require Morris, Dempsey, and Ivanschitz to all be on the same page when it comes to throughballs and dribble moves, aka tryin' sh..stuff, which has not happened too much this year. This would be a perfect game to break out that better understanding.
Vancouver is sporting a new right side with Costa Rican National Teamer Christian Bolaños who earned a DC suspension after week one, but he'll be back for the match against the Sounders. Bolanos showed up well at the World Cup in 2014 and played well enough against Montreal, but is missing some cohesion with Pedro Morales, Octavio Rivero and Fraser Aird. With Froese suspended, Deybi Flores will likely start against at R/CDM in the 4-2-3-1, but looked beat by SKC's physical midfield.
The Whitecaps offense is still built around the counter. Pedro Morales pulls the strings and sends Kekuta Manneh, Christian Bolaños, Cristian Techera, and anyone else who subs in as a winger running down the wings to cut it back inside to Octavio Rivero. If neither winger is in a position to run, Rivero will be sent down a channel to make it happen alone. Seattle will be able to push Joevin Jones higher up the pitch, pin Bolaños back, and allow Scott/Marshall and Tyrone Mears to manage the runs from Rivero and Manneh.
Overall this game sets up well for Seattle. They're hungry and playing a rival at CenturyLink as both try to get their first win. Vancouver's defense looks lost and has only scored on a PK and free kick and corner headers. Set piece goals are scary (there's no way around that), but Seattle is looking a little better on those this season...said no one ever. Seattle may give up one or two even on set pieces to Vancouver, but they should be able to break the scoring rut and score three or four of their own against a porous 'Caps defense.
Seattle- R-L 4-3-3
Frei, Mears, Scott, Marshall, Jones, Alonso, Roldan, Ivanschitz, Morris, Dempsey, Anderson
Vancouver - R-L 4-2-3-1
Ousted, Aird, Waston, Parker, Harvey, Flores, Laba, Bolanos, Morales, Manneh, Rivero