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Six things Sounders need to do to beat on the ‘Caps

Saturday is a must-win — you’ve heard this before; you’ll hear it again.

Danny Leyva threads a pass against the Vancouver Whitecaps
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

[music notes] all we are is history repeating [end music notes]

For the rest of this season the Seattle Sounders must win (not completely, but they also can’t afford a mental day off). That’s true Saturday night in British Columbia as they take on the Vancouver Whitecaps (7:08 PM PT, FOX 13+/Prime Video/ESPN+).

There’s nothing on the line except extending a 13-year streak and the chance at a 2016-esque run for the double. Win now. Win forever.

Remember hating the Ghost, Chris Wondowlowski?

There are players who seem to never need to score rockets. They just do tap-ins. Ghosting around the 6-yard-box these talents can disappear. Then, in just a split second the ball is at their feet and they score.

Last year, Brian White did just that. He excelled at ghosting. Defenders would forget about him. He went on a tear. This season he’s been limited to four goals. xG says he should have more — it’s not wrong. White’s still capable of doing everything you expect from a ghost and it’s nearly spooky season.

They have more than just Brian White

Ryan Gauld is very capable of putting on a show. Maybe last year’s success of White forced opponents to adjust and give space. Gauld has done well, not great, but seven goals and seven assists are definitely worth paying attention to.

There’s just enough quality in attack that Vancouver can put up crooked numbers. I’m asking Frei, Nouhou, Yeimar, Arreaga and Roldan to not let that happen.

Their goalkeeper must not matter

Vancouver has two bad keepers who split time nearly in half. It doesn’t matter who starts. Neither should intimidate. Thomas Hasal has missed games with a broken finger and Covid-19 restrictions. He’s healthy, but he’s not better than Cody Cropper — who was once highly touted and is now a backup to a younger keeper with a 1.74 GAA. Hasal has a 1.75. Their save percentages are poor.

When faced with such an opportunity a team must succeed. Do not be the Galaxy. Be one of the 11 teams that have scored three or more goals against Vancouver — like the Seattle Sounders.

Leyvtencio!

Back in the first half of 2019, Danny Leyva burst on the scene as a teenage defensive mid who was ready to take on the world. Then non-linear development and injuries happened.

Back in the first half of 2021, Josh Atencio burst on the scene as a teenage defensive mid who was ready to take on the world. Then non-linear development and injuries happened.

Now, in late 2022, Leyvtencio! is on the scene and reminding Sounders fans and the league that they were the teen phenoms ready to strengthen the spine. Together they seem better than either have been on their own except in those prior short spells.

This shouldn’t be a surprise. Josh and Danny came up together. Both shuffled around on the pitch. Josh as a CB at times. Danny as an 8 & 10. Those bits of skill developed for other roles help them double-pivot together. Each knows where the other wants him. That leads to easy short passes and non-verbal cues as to what land to cover. The partnership maximizes each other and frees up the band of three to attack.

Someone else stepping up

Raúl Ruidíaz is hot right now. That’s great. He’s about to be gone. So is the second-best attacking player with the Sounders.

This is the time for Nicolás Lodeiro and Albert Rusnák to start producing like the short-list best of the past 5 years that they have been. Ramping either or both of them into more touches while they are getting used to playing along the same line will be best for the success of the ‘22 Sounders.

Cascadia Cup scoring records

No, the Seattle Sounders can’t win the Cascadia Cup. Portland already did that and it will likely be their only trophy in 2022 — fair trade when you think about it.

As this is the final match of Cascadia Cup 2022 there are two things to play for related to the trivalry;

  • 2022 Cascadia Cup Golden Boot

If Ruidíaz scores two or Lodeiro, Alex Roldán or Yéimar scores three they will take the 2022 Cascadia Golden Boot.

  • Fredy Montero is almost certainly the top scorer in Cascadia Cup history. He loves this little mini tournament. It’d be fun if he gets another in what may be his final opportunity.

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