Cascadia Rivalry Renewed

This weekend the Vancouver Whitecaps will start to defend their 2013 Cascadia Cup title against their powerful neighbours the Seattle Sounders. While Vancouver enjoyed a bye week; Seattle continued their MLS dominance last week thanks to a jaw dropping goal by Obafemi Martins that gave the Sounders the 1-0 win over San Jose.

In the 2011 and 2012 seasons Seattle had an undisputed advantage on the field and displayed supremacy over their northern rivals. However, things changed in 2013 as the Whitecaps finally started to perform against their Cascadia opponents. A hard fought 3-2 loss on the road in which the Caps held a lead until veteran defender Andy O-Brien went down injured resulted in a Seattle comeback. This was followed up with 2-0 home victory which saw Vancouver goalie Brad Knighton have the game of his life as he stood on his head to keep the shutout for the Whitecaps. The 2013 three game series between these teams was wrapped up at C-Link in a historic game for the Whitecaps as Kekuta Manneh scored a hat-trick as he lead Vancouver to a 4-1 win.

This year’s campaign has seen Vancouver (4-2-4) and Seattle (8-3-1) both show they can play some very eye catching soccer. Sounder DP Clint Dempsey and defender DeAndre Yedlin have been called up to the USMNT and Brad Evans was one of the players to be cut from Klinsmann’s roster. Whether Evans will play a role in this Cascadia clash remains to be seen. Dempsey’s absences will certainly be a welcome sight for Whitecap coach Carl Robinson.

Vancouver striker Darren Mattocks is recovering well from his hamstring injury and while he may make the bench it seems unlikely he will see action. The Whitecaps also announced earlier this week that Mattocks has received his Green Card which is welcome news as this means he will no longer take up an international roster spot. Another point of interest will be Nigel Reo-Coker. Nigel and his massive salary have been pushed to the bench this season thanks to a combination of factors. However, he has started at right back for both the Canadian Championship games against Toronto. A shaky performance in the first leg was followed up by a great performance in the return leg. Speculation has been in full swing for weeks that Nigel would be let go or traded. These predictions were reinforced recently when a Vancouver reporter claimed to have been told that Reo-Coker’s time as a Whitecap will come to a close shortly after this weekend’s game. The logic being that Nigel will fill in at RB due to the absence of Steven Beitashour who is preparing with the Iranian national side for the World Cup and an injured Ethen Sampson. Sampson is projected to return from his knee injury shortly and will act as cover until Beitashour returns.

The Whitecaps announced that this weekend’s game is sold out. This will be the Whitecaps 6th sell-out at a reduced capacity this season. The club is under increasing pressure from fans to increase the capacity as demand is clearly increasing. Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi told local sports station Team 1040 recently that they will increase capacity once games sell out more in advance.