Sounders FC resumes Cascadia Cup action with a 6 p.m. road game Saturday against rival Vancouver, needing a win to keep up with Portland in the fan-sponsored competition.
TUKWILA — By all accounts, the Sounders haven’t had a bad season. They just have nothing to show for it yet.
Nothing tangible, at least.
The team has been shut out in its trophy pursuits in 2012, most notably in a controversial loss to Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup final in August.
Seattle also lost out on the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League title (which was a longshot), the Heritage Cup (a season series with MLS-leading San Jose), and could be eliminated this weekend from competition for the Supporters’ Shield (a trophy for earning the league’s best regular-season record).
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The next trophy on the line? The Cascadia Cup. And the Sounders need a win in Saturday’s 6 p.m. game in Vancouver to keep up with Portland in the fan-sponsored tournament among the three Northwest teams.
Seattle, which has never gone this deep into an MLS season without a trophy, plays its final Cascadia Cup game next week against the Timbers at home.
“We want to try and win as many trophies as we can, and bragging (rights) in the Pacific Northwest region,” said forward Eddie Johnson. “We want to say we’re the top dogs here. I’d be lying if I said everyone wasn’t fully committed to winning that cup.”
The Sounders would clinch their fourth-straight playoff berth with either a win or tie (or if FC Dallas fails to win Saturday in San Jose) — a feat Seattle has failed to achieve the past two weeks.
A 13-7-9 regular-season record also means the Sounders must win their final five games to match last year’s mark, but coach Sigi Schmid isn’t concerned with that.
“We’ve got to make the playoffs,” Schmid said. “We want to try and get second place (in the West), and then we want to put together a much better playoff run than we did last year. I think that is what’s going to carry the weight of the season, and I know I’m putting pressure on the team and pressure on myself, as well, by saying it that way.
“But if we have a better record or not a better record than last year, at the end of the day people aren’t going to remember that nearly as much as they’re going to remember what we did in the playoffs.”
The new-look Whitecaps are just hoping to make the playoffs after recent struggles, which have seemingly coincided with four major roster moves in July. Vancouver is 0-5-1 in its past six games and 2-8-3 in its past 13.
Vancouver hasn’t fared any better against Northwest rivals, with a 0-5-3 record since joining MLS in 2011, and Vancouver needs a win to stay in Cascadia Cup contention this year.
Schmid still thinks the Whitecaps have “come a long way from last year,” when they finished tied for last in the league.
“They continue to tinker with it and build it and try to make it into more of what they want and what they see,” Schmid said. “It’s a long season. You go through streaks in the season, and they’re in a streak right now that they probably want to get out of as soon as possible, but they’re definitely a much-improved team from last year and a dangerous team because they’re fighting for their playoff lives right now.”
• Christian Tiffert has been dealing with a sore ankle and nearly had to come out of last week’s game after taking a hard tackle. Like he has the past few weeks, though, the German midfielder appears able to play on. “He’s played and trained through it this week, and it hasn’t gotten worse,” Schmid said. “As (Tiffert) said, if he can go two weeks without getting kicked there again, it’ll be good.”
• Sounders FC has gone 61 games since suffering back-to-back losses, the longest stretch in MLS history.
• Saturday marks the 129th meeting in a rivalry that dates to 1974 in the North American Soccer League. Seattle holds a 62-46-20 advantage.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers