A Sounders loss at B.C. Place would send Vancouver seven points clear of them in the standings — and give an early Cascadia Cup boost to the team that marched into CenturyLink Field and swiped the trophy with a 1-0 win in October.
Results from last weekend bode ominously for the Sounders’ short trip to Vancouver for their first game against the Whitecaps this season.
The Whitecaps continued their torrid start with a 3-0 hammering of Philadelphia on Saturday at B.C. Place. Pedro Morales, Octavio Rivero and Darren Mattocks netted goals as Vancouver lifted itself into first place in the Western Conference and the best record in MLS.
In Columbus, a Crew team built very similarly to the Whitecaps topped Seattle 3-2 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score suggested. The Whitecaps and Sounders meet Saturday at B.C. Place.
“Every team is a little bit different,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said Monday. “But they’re similar in that they’ve got younger players and they try to get forward and try to run at you a little bit.”
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Saturday, Columbus overran the Sounders early. It passed through and around an overstretched defense, hit on the break when Seattle got too aggressive pushing men forward.
“The first 15 minutes, we didn’t know what they were doing,” Seattle captain Brad Evans said. “We were completely lost.”
The Whitecaps were similarly overwhelming against the Union, doubling up the visitors in shots en route to their comfortable victory.
Rivero has been a revelation up front. Through 11 games, Rivero has six goals, tied with Seattle forward Obafemi Martins for second-most in the league and one behind both Clint Dempsey and Columbus’ Kei Kamara.
“Their attack is free-flowing,” Evans said. “Guys are switching positions, and different guys are scoring. They’re playing as a team. They’re playing as a unit. It’s going to be very difficult, and we have to be up to the task defensively.
“We have to come in with a better game plan, especially against this team, which is playing lights out. They’re playing the best soccer in the league right now.”
The defeat against Columbus was a spritz of cold water on Seattle’s recent hot streak, a reality check to the notion that a return to the top of the Western Conference was inevitable now that everybody is healthy.
A Sounders loss at B.C. Place would send Vancouver seven points clear of them in the standings — and give an early Cascadia Cup boost to the team that marched into CenturyLink Field and swiped the trophy with a 1-0 victory in October.
“Last year, they were a team that was trying to push to get into the playoffs,” Schmid said. “At the end of the season, in that game, they wanted it more than we needed it. Now it’s a situation where they’re in first place. We want to close that gap. It’s a six-point game. I don’t think we have to look at last year as motivation, we just have to look up at the standings this year.”
The majority of the Sounders returned to Seattle from Columbus on Sunday without a hitch. A handful of them, though, spent Mother’s Day in airport terminals and on hastily arranged connecting flights.
A late miscommunication had forced the team to sprinkle its 18 traveling players on four flights out of Ohio. Two of them went off without a hitch. The other two were plagued by weather delays.