Tonight will mark the final clash between Cascadia teams during the 2014 regular season. The winner will lift the Cascadia Cup.
In one corner we have the 4 time title holders and current defending champs the Vancouver Whitecaps. A victory in Seattle would mean a 5th Cascadia Cup, and would go a long way to secure a playoff spot and also help them to claim their first ever Canadian Championship. In the other corner we have the ever dangerous Seattle Sounders who are looking to win their 4th Cascadia Cup while also continue their push for the Supporters Shield.
So many stories and implications rest on this match. Down in lower Cascadia, Portland Timbers owner Merritt Paulson sent an open letter to all of Portland fans giving them permission to cheer for Seattle since they are in a battle to the death with Vancouver for the final playoff spot. A Cascadia team supporting another Cascadia team? That is truly shocking.
The match will also mark the return of Mauro Rosales as he faces the team he once captained. Interestingly enough Rosales has not scored since he was traded to Chivas USA during the past off-season. I can’t even begin to imagine the looks on Seattle and Vancouver fan’s faces if he scores the winning goal against his old team. Last week Rosales had his best game in a Vancouver jersey since he was acquired in late summer in exchange for Nigel Reo-Coker. Mauro picked up two assists as Vancouver rolled to a 2-0 victory over visiting FC Dallas. Sebastian Fernandez scored both Vancouver goals during that game and unfortunately he will be suspended for today’s match due to yellow card accumulation. Who replaces him in the starting lineup remains a question. It will likely be Nico Mezquida or Kekuta Manneh. If it turns out to be Manneh, Seattle fans could be getting a painful reminder of the events that transpired almost a year ago to the day. A year ago the Whitecaps romped to a 4-1 victory over Seattle at Clink thanks to a hat trick by Kekuta Manneh. His form has recently returned as Manneh has filled the role of an impact sub. Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson told reporters earlier this week that due to the exclusion of Fernandez we will see recently signed academy graduate Kianz Froese make his debut on the game day roster. Whether he sees action remains to be seen but the promising young Canadian has a bright future and it would certainly be a memorable moment if he made his MLS debut in the league’s most intense atmosphere.
The Whitecaps head into the game on an excellent run. They have won their past two games against RSL and FC Dallas. The victory over Dallas was one of, if not the most complete team performance of the season which has Vancouver fans expecting their team to put up a real fight as we enter the last 3 games of the regular season. Returning players, possible debuts, playoff hopes, and a title on the line. You can’t get any better than this. Empty your bladder. Grab your beer. You won’t want to miss a second of this game.