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New-look Whitecaps not to be underestimated

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This includes Fredy Montero, who Brian Schmetzer calls a friend—except for 90 minutes on Friday

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

With just a few days to prepare for the next match, the first Cascadia matchup of the season away to Vancouver, Seattle Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer downplayed any notions that their opponent would be an easy one. He said that the Vancouver Whitecaps’ dedication to CONCACAF Champions League games has probably made them seem a little weaker on the league side of things, but he said with guys like former Sounders Fredy Montero and Mauro Rosales, Vancouver is "a dangerous team." Besides, Schmetzer said, the rivalry aspect of this matchup makes it more "challenging" than others.

This Whitecaps team has changed a bit, including the trading away of Kekutah Manneh, who has punished the Sounders in the past couple years. But Schmetzer said that Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson is as organized and disciplined as ever, and that the team has more than adequately replaced the players they’ve lost.

Because it’s a big rivalry game that often gets "heated," Schmetzer hopes to avoid matches like last season’s ridiculous 2-1 win by Seattle in which both teams ended up with only 10 players left on the pitch. "That was a one-off. Brad was not trying to headbutt him. So, I mean...he was trying to ‘get out of my face’ and maybe it was a little too violent. Referees have a hard job. We’re way past that." Though if Evans is able to finally make it back into the matchday squad after his long injury layoff, he and Montero may have a few things to talk about.

Notably, Schmetzer and Montero met up in the offseason before Montero’s trade to the Whitecaps—but according to him, it wasn’t about business. "Before he went up there, we had a little conversation, but not after. We just talked about stuff in general. Just coffee, talked about how his wife and kids were doing." He said that he always had a good relationship with Montero while he was with the Sounders, and that the entire team respects the former Sounder and his career. Despite the friendly and positive attitude he has toward Montero, Schmetzer said that his sentiments don’t extend to the soccer pitch. "It will be interesting, but once the whistle blows, he’s the enemy."