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Five things we want to see when Sounders host the Whitecaps

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Sounders have a chance to clinch a playoff spot.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

The last time the Vancouver Whitecaps came to town, things didn’t quite go as expected. Despite coming into the game on some awful form, the Whitecaps gave the Sounders all they could handle and pulled out a 2-2 tie. This time, however, the Whitecaps are playing pretty well. Maybe that’s just what the Sounders need.

Here are five things we’re hoping to see:

Don’t sleep on Brian White

He may look like the quintessential “just a guy”, but Brian White has been stellar. The New York Red Bulls Academy product, who was acquired in an offseason trade for the rather eye-popping sum of $400,000 in allocation money, is the hottest striker in MLS right now with eight goals in his past nine games, including a hat trick in his last one. White is especially good in the air, having scored three of his last four with his head. Like Raúl Ruidíaz he doesn’t need a ton of touches to be successful, so the Sounders will need to be aware of him no matter where he is. — Jeremiah

Test the goalkeeper

While playing through an international window isn’t ideal, the Sounders aren’t the only team missing players. The Whitecaps will be without goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau and forward Lucas Cavallini, both of whom are with Canada. White’s emergence has sort of relegated Cavallini to the bench, but Crepeau’s absence could be significant. Most likely replacing him is Thomas Hasal, who has struggled at times this year. The 22-year-old is a bit more inclined to play out of the back and come off his line, and is not particularly effective at snagging crosses. He’s allowing 1.67 goals per game while only saving about 65.5% of the shots he faces. The Sounders can take advantage of all that. — Jeremiah

Home sweet home

The Sounders are coming off a big win against the Colorado Rapids at home. That match was arguably their toughest remaining home fixture of the year, but this Saturday’s match is nothing to scoff at. This Whitecaps team is one of the hottest teams in MLS, having lost just once in their last 15 matches. We’ve written a bunch about the Sounders' struggles at home, but with that corner hopefully turned, they’ve got a bit of a history with the ‘Caps. The Sounders are are 7-0-2 at home since 2016 against the Vancouver and Brian Schmetzer has only lost to the Whitecaps once since taking over the Sounders in MLS. This is a fantastic opportunity to get another home W on the board as we’re in the business end of the season now. — Mark

Clinch a playoff spot

The bare minimum expectation going into every season is to make the playoffs, so simply qualifying is never an end unto itself. Still, locking up that playoff spot for a 13th consecutive season will provide some nice peace of mind. Perhaps more importantly, a win would also allow the Sounders to at least maintain their lead over Sporting KC in the Western Conference and pull them three points closer to the New England Revolution in the Supporters’ Shield race. The gap between them and the Revs would still be eight points, but the Sounders do have a game in hand and who knows what happens down the stretch? — Jeremiah

Next man up

Playing during the international break isn’t fun, but that’s the price the Sounders pay for their run in the Leagues Cup. This match was originally set to be played on Sept. 15, but had to be moved because of the Santos Laguna match. Now, because of players being called up to play for their international teams, the Sounders will have 15 outfield players to choose from, barring any more injuries. The lineup on Saturday night won’t quite be Austin away, but it’ll be interesting to see how Schmetzer handles the balance of needing a strong starting XI while also needing players on the bench that can influence the match. — Mark