MATCH: Vancouver Whitecaps (10-7-7, 37 points, T3, West Conf.) at Seattle Sounders FC (10-6-7, 37 points, T3, West Conf.). TYPE: MLS. WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m., CenturyLink Field. MEETING: 4th (MLS series tied 1-1-1). LAST 10: Sounders 3-3-4; Whitecaps 3-4-3. TV: KING 5. RADIO: 97.3 KIRO FM; SPANISH: KOMO2 (Comcast Ch. 114) and La Gran D 99.3 FM.
Reeling from one of the worst weeks in franchise history -- blowing the U.S. Open Cup final to Sporting Kansas City by botching penalty kicks, and losing in stoppage time to the San Jose Earthquakes -- the Sounders (10-6-7) will face a surging Vancouver Whitecaps club that has lost just once in its past four outings and tied Seattle for third in the Western Conference.
Playing at home should help the Sounders, given the expected throng.
The Clink held 53,309 for the Chelsea friendly July 18 and 60,908 for the LA Galaxy match Aug. 5. The Sounders have sold more than 54,000 tickets for the Vancouver match.
"Every day we should be so thankful for the fans we have here in Seattle," said goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
The Sounders are unbeaten in their past seven (6-0-1) home matches across all competitions, most recently a dominant 4-0 victory over the Galaxy. The home unbeaten streak dates to May 23.
Seattle and Vancouver drew earlier this season (May 19 at BC Place) with Fredy Montero scoring a late equalizer as the Sounders remained unbeaten in MLS play against the Whitecaps. Saturday's mid-day match is the first Cascadia Cup contest of the season in Seattle.
The Whitecaps, coming off a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake, overhauled the roster since the first match, adding four impact players. Designated players Barry Robson and Kenny Miller joined, as well as MLS veteran Dane Richards and Irish centerback Andy O'Brien.
Vancouver is led by the league's leading Rookie of the Year candidate, Darren Mattocks, who has scored seven goals in 14 games. Robson has two goals in eight appearances and Miller made his debut July 22. Brazilian forward Camilo has four goals and five assists in 12 starts. Midfielder Richards, who joined the 'Caps in a midseason trade with New York, scored twice in five games, including the winner Saturday against RSL.
O'Brien made his Vancouver debut Saturday, entering in the 21st minute. Goalie Joe Cannon sat out last Saturday to serve a one-game red card suspension. He started the previous 23 outings with a 1.26 goals against average.
Vancouver is a second-half club -- 18 of its 28 goals have been scored in the second half.
Vancouver is in the middle of MLS in both goals per game (1.17) and goals-against average (1.21), and its defense has recorded nine shutouts (T3 in MLS). The Whitecaps are the second-most cautioned team in MLS with 47 yellows.
While the Whitecaps have added players, so has Seattle. Newly inked Christian Tiffert made his first appearance against San Jose after coming on as a substitute against the Galaxy.
“He’s doing what we need him to do, which is help connect passes for us, help us keep possession and being able to attack as a unit,” said head coach Sigi Schmid.
"I’m fit and I think I had some good action and good crosses. I also think we could play better because we have many good players, good technical players," said Tiffert. "San Jose played better than Seattle, but maybe next game we can create more chances.”
After playing Vancouver, the Sounders are looking at a month of road trips. Five of the next seven are away from home, including trips to Trinidad and Honduras for CONCACAF Champions League group play.
Seattle will play three of its final four league matches at home, as well as the final Champions League group stage match against Marathon Oct. 24.
SOUNDERS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper -- Michael Gspurning. Defenders -- Adam Johansson, Jeff Parke, Patrick Ianni, Leo Gonzalez. Midfielders -- Mauro Rosales, Brad Evans, Alex Caskey, Osvaldo Alonso. Forwards -- Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson.
WHITECAPS PROBABLE LINEUP: Goalkeeper -- Joe Cannon. Defenders -- Jordan Harvey, Alain Rochat, Andy O'Brien, LeeYoung Pyo; Midfielders -- Jun Marques Davidson, John Thorrington, Barry Robson. Forwards -- Kenny Miller, Atiba Harris, Camillo.
INJURIES (Sounders): Out -- FW Babayele Sodale (ACL tear), F David Estrada (foot fracture).
DISCIPLINARY SITUATION (Sounders): Eddie Johnson will be suspended after his next yellow card.
LAST MATCH (Aug. 11): Fredy Montero came off the bench and tallied a stoppage-time equalizer at San Jose, his third goal in four matches. Two minutes later, Seattle conceded a late corner that Steven Lenhart headed in for the winner as the Earthquakes snapped Seattle's MLS-best six-game unbeaten streak, 2-1.
LAST VS. WHITECAPS (May 19): Sounders escaped with a 2-2 draw thanks to a masterful goal by Montero in the 90th minute. The play began with a strong kick from goalie Bryan Meredith to the head of Eddie Johnson, who moved it to Montero at the top of the penalty area. He out-maneuvered two defenders, then boomed a 20-yarder toward the near post that left goalie Joe Cannon no move but to toss up his hands in despair.
SERIES: Dates to June 19, 1974, when the Sounders, then of the North American Soccer League, met the Whitecaps at Vancouver's Empire Stadium. Since then, the franchises have met 127 times while playing in various leagues, Seattle winning 61 and Vancouver 46. There have been 20 draws. In MLS play, the teams are tied 1-1-1, and Sounders have scored at least two goals in all three matches. Saturday is the second of three meetings between the Pacific Northwest rivals this season.SOUNDERS STATS / NOTES
- SEASON SUMMARY: Overall: 10-6-7. Last 5: W-T-W-W-L. Home: 7-3-1. Road: 3-3-6. Vs. East: 4-1-4. Vs. West: 6-5-3. March: 2-1-0; April: 2-0-1; May: 3-2-2; June: 0-2-2; July: 2-0-2; August: 1-1-0. Goals For: 32. Goals Against: 24.
- MLS TEAM RANKS: Goals: 32 (8th). Goals Scored Avg.: 1.39 (7th). Goals Allowed Per Match: 1.04 (2). Shots: 206 (10). Shots On Goal: 95 (14). Fouls Committed: 351 (1st). Fouls Suffered: 299 (6th). Yellow Card Cautions: 37 (T11).
- Sounders 4-3-5 against teams in playoff positions with a plus-five goal differential. Sounders are unbeaten against playoff teams in the East and still have five games remaining against West playoff aspirants (Vancouver twice, LA Galaxy, Salt Lake, San Jose). All three losses against probable playoff teams have been by one goal.
- Coach Sigi Schmid has used 22 lineups in 23 MLS games.
- Eddie Johnson scored seven goals in his last nine league outings, and scored seven of the team's last 15 in MLS play. Seven of Johnson's 10 goals have been headers, including his past five, and six of his goals have been assisted by Mauro Rosales.
- Gspurning (0.63) ranks first in goals against average. There has never been a keeper from outside the CONCACAF region to lead MLS in GAA at season's end.
- Aside from Johnson (T5 with 10 goals) and Mauro Rosales (T5 with nine assists), Montero ranks in the top 10 in several categories, including shots (84; 2nd), shots on goal (30; T5), fouls committed (41; T9) and fouls suffered (49; T4).
- Four of Montero's seven goals have come after he entered as a substitute.
- Montero has led the way for Seattle in Cascadia Cup play. The Colombian has scored five goals with two assists in six rivalry matches against Vancouver and Portland.
- 21 of 32 goals have been tallied in the second half.
- Sounders have two of the league's longest road undefeated streaks this season: five games from April 7 to May 26 and four games from June 30 to July 28. Seattle ranks third in road goal scoring with an average of 1.33 goals per match.
- Sounders 5-0-1 when leading at the half, 5-2-5 when tied at the half and 0-4-1 when trailing at the half.
- Sounders 10-0-1 when scoring first and 0-6-4 when conceding first.
|Starts||Montero, Alonzo, Parke 18|
|Goals||Johnson 10, Montero 7, Estrada 5|
|Assists||Rosales 9, Montero 4, Caskey 4|
|Shots||Montero 84, Johnson 51, Estrada 23, Alonso 21|
|Shots On Goal||Montero 30, Johnson 17, Estrada 10|
|Fouls Caused||Montero 40, Johnson 25, Alonso 25, Scott 21|
|Fouls Suffered||Montero 49, Rosales 33, Johnson 32|
|Offsides||Johnson 25, Montero 12, Estrada 6|
|Corner Kicks||Rosales 57, Fernandez 16, Caskey 12|
|Cautions||Johnson 5, Alonso 5, Montero 4|
|Ejections||Hurtado 1, Fernandez 1, Montero 1|
|4/7||^at DC United||4:30||KING||D||0-0||2-1-1|
|5/9||^at FC Dallas||5:30||KONG||W||2-0||7-1-1|
|6/26||&at San Jose||7:30||Webcast||W||1-0||3-0-0|
|6/30||^at New England||4:30||KONG||D||2-2||7-5-5|
|7/15||^at New York||1:00||ESPN||D||2-2||8-5-7|
|8/5||^vs. LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN2||W||4-0||10-5-7|
|8/8||&at Sport KC||6:00||GolTV||L||2-1||4-1|
|8/11||^at San Jose||7:30||KONG||L||2-1||10-6-7|
|9/2||^at FC Dallas||4:00||KING||---||---||---|
|10/21||^vs. FC Dallas||6:00||ESPN||---||---||---|
|10/28||^at LA Galaxy||6:00||ESPN||---||---||---|