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Preview: Seattle Sounders at Vancouver Whitecaps

A Cascadia clash might be just what Sounders need to shake off the rust.

MLS: Seattle Sounders FC at Vancouver Whitecaps FC Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Shaky times in Seattle Sounders land as the squad heads north of the border to take on Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps. The Sounders haven’t scored more than a goal in a game since April 8 and have only won two of their last six league games. All of that said, they’re still in first place in the Western Conference and in touching distance of the Supporters’ Shield lead. So, how’s this weekend going to shake out? Let’s take a look.

One key stat

10 — Fredy Montero has 10 goals as a sub for the Sounders, twice as many as anyone else in the club’s MLS history. His 10th came on Wednesday.

What the Sounders will try to do

The Sounders rolled the dice on Wednesday against Austin FC and started most of their first-choice 11, at least in terms of who was available. They were incredibly unlucky on Wednesday, but there’s an outsized element of fortune to this sport. Rolling those dice and crapping out means they have some tough decisions to make for this weekend’s match. Do you try to force guys to go again on short rest? Do you rotate heavily?

Given that the team is in a bit of a funk, it might be the perfect time to try something a little different. Vancouver loves to push up their fullbacks so there will be a bunch of space in the channels that the Sounders could exploit. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Sounders try to absorb some of Vancouver’s pressure and hit them on the break.

What Vancouver will try to do

The Whitecaps are one of the more interesting teams in MLS for my money. They aren’t in a great position in the table, but their underlying numbers are excellent. They have a clear system of play and create a bunch of chances, all while not really having much in the way of star power.

Ryan Gauld is Vancouver’s best player but he hasn’t really been contributing in the stats department so far this season. Make no mistake, he’s important to what they do. He’s missed one game this season, this last Wednesday against Dallas, and the Whitecaps lost.

Vancouver creates their chances by crossing the ball. A lot. They attempt so many crosses (297 in 11 matches is so many) and lead the league in accurate crosses per match. So, it’s sort of generation by blunt force.

Vibe check

The vibes are very bleak after the loss to Austin. Yes, the Sounders are still in first place but they’re not winning games they should win. Losing against Vancouver would be disastrously bad for the vibes-o-meter. A draw wouldn’t feel good, but it’d be a good point to pick up during this run.

How close to full strength is everyone?

  • Vancouver’s injury report is completely empty, but Ranko Veselinović is apparently away for personal reasons.
  • Doesn’t seem like the Sounders have gotten any healthier than they were on Wednesday. But there’s a good chance Nouhou and/or Chú will start on Saturday.

Projected lineups

Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Nouhou, Arreaga, Yeimar, A. Roldan; Atencio, Rusnak; Chu, Lodeiro, Morris; Montero

Vancouver Whitecaps (4-3-2-1): Takaoka; Raposo, Blackmon, Brown, Laborda; Schopf, Cubas, Gressel; Gauld, White, Cordova

What you need to know

Sounders record (1st in the West, 3rd in the Shield): 7-2-3, +9 GD

Whitecaps record (9th in the West, 21st in the Shield): 3-4-5, +2 GD

Where: BC Place, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Kickoff time: 7:39pm PT

Commentators (AppleTV): Blake Price and Warren Barton

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