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Five things we’d like to see against the Whitecaps

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Don’t underestimate a rival.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC v Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The Seattle Sounders have a wonderful chance to close out their second 9-point week of the season. Facing a reeling Vancouver Whitecaps team that is on equally short rest, the Sounders are pegged as almost 6:1 favorites to win. Some rotation is to be expected but the Sounders should have more than enough quality. Now they need to show it.

Here’s what we’re hoping to see:

Kids can stand the heat

The Sounders have been playing with a short bench all season, only twice even fielding a game-day roster of 19 players. Still, Brian Schmetzer has utilized his bench effectively and gotten good production out of a variety of players. He’s almost certainly going to have to lean on some of that depth today. Perhaps most enticingly, Josh Atencio will make his return to the starting lineup, either in place of João Paulo or Kelyn Rowe. Atencio was stellar in the first two games of the year and the Whitecaps are the kind of team his line-breaking ability could be particularly useful against. - Jeremiah

Avoid silly penalties

The Sounders have now established that their defense is elite, despite a fair amount of rotation in their back seven. No team has allowed fewer goals and while they’re overperforming their advanced metrics, it’s notable that no team allows fewer non-penalty scoring chances than the Sounders per game (their penalty-adjusted xGA is .81 per game). But those penalties are a persistent problem. What’s most frustrating about those penalties is that only one was the result of needing to break up a promising attack. The Whitecaps are particularly unlikely to create much danger from open play, with all but three goals coming off set-pieces or penalties. It’s imperative that the Sounders avoid silly mistakes. - Jeremiah

Fredy builds his throne

I realize that on Wednesday I argued that Fredy Montero should not be starting regularly for the Sounders over Will Bruin. I still believe that on the whole, but I think we can make an exception for the King of Cascadia to reclaim his throne against his former team. Montero has scored 7 goals against Portland, 4 goals against Vancouver, and 3 goals against Seattle (we won’t talk about those). 14 goals against the 3 Cascadia teams is an impressive total for one’s career, but Ruidiaz is hot on his heels with 13 and Fredy deserves a chance to pad his total. Start Fredy, get goals. - Mark

Supporters’ Shield watch

It’s never too early to talk about how the Sounders are the best team in MLS, which over the course of the season results in a pretty cool trophy called the Supporters’ Shield. The easiest way to win a trophy like that is to crush your opponents’ hopes, you know, like when Aaron Paul’s character in Breaking Bad says, “He can’t keep getting away with it!” So far the only team putting up a record similar to the Sounders is Bruce Arena’s New England Revolution who have 23 points through 10 games. They play in Dallas on Sunday night with the last game of the weekend, so the Sounders need to win tonight to make them feel the pressure. - Mark

Stay cool

You do not need me to tell you that it’s very hot in Seattle this weekend. There’s a record-setting heat wave in the metro area with the least air conditioning in the country. I know we’re all excited to get back to “normal” with COVID-19 restrictions loosening, but this isn’t the weekend to do something stupid. If you’re going to the game and drinking booze, make sure you are drinking plenty of water. Also consider your pets at home are comfortable before leaving for hours. - Mark