Showdown in Seattle, a “Measuring Stick” for Upward Mobile Whitecaps

Vancouver is looking to rise above the playoff line with a result in Saturday’s game against the conference-leading Seattle Sounders.

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There are seven regular season games left for the Vancouver Whitecaps, including three against the top two teams in the Western Conference, and a hellish home stretch that includes six of them in 21 days.

“It’s like the Amazing Race. Or maybe the cartoon we watched when we were kids, with Dick Dastardly and Muttley, ”said interim head coach Van Sartini, revealing his age by referring to the ancient history of animation in Wacky Races, which originally took place in the late 60s but again in syndication. from 1976 to 1982.

“I hope the Sounders will be Dick Dastardly because he lost every time,” he added with a laugh.

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The race begins in earnest Saturday night when the Whitecaps head to Seattle to face the Sounders at Lumen Field. The Sounders may not have a sneering Muttley for their sidekick, but they do have a slightly smug Fredy Montero, who managed to ruffle a few feathers north of the border on Friday when he said his former team were “playing like if they had nothing to lose. “

The Caps, in fact, have everything to lose. Missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season would be a low point for the franchise, especially after sacking its head coach with a third of the season remaining.


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Vancouver Whitecaps vs Seattle Sounders

6 p.m., Field of light. TV: TSN. Radio: AM730


The Whitecaps (9-8-10) are just below the playoff line in eighth place in the West, one point behind Minnesota (19-9-8) and two behind the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake, both sat on 11 -11-6.

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But it was a Herculean effort to bring the team that high up the ladder. In the last 15 games, only the fugitive leaders of the Supporters’ Shield in New England have a better record than Vancouver.

Montero’s confidence is not misplaced. The conference-leading Sounders (16-5-6) can extend their record-breaking MLS playoff streak to 13 straight seasons if they get a point or better from the game against Vancouver. It’s an enviable achievement, Sartini said.

“We can say, without a doubt, that for 10 years the Sounders have been the best club in MLS – plain and simple,” he said after practice Friday. “They’ve won the Cup a couple of times, they’ve gone to the final, they’re still going to the playoffs, the atmosphere at the stadium is very good, they have a lot of fans, they’ve attracted some really good international players… so we know that the pollsters are great.

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“I think tomorrow is a very big measure for us, also because they miss a lot of players, but even if they miss players, they are still a good team.

“If we can face them tomorrow… that means it’s not only a good thing for us for our playoff hopes, but it also shows that we’re on the right path to becoming a more mature and stronger organization.

The Montero sound clip will not be required as bulletin board material for the Whitecaps. They all know what is at stake and the opportunity available to them.

“We don’t have to charge players or put pressure on players for the game because the players know how important it is,” Sartini said. “And we don’t have to be hypocrites either. It’s a good chance, because playing against Seattle, without their best players, it’s a chance that we seize. It’s still a very good team, even without these players, but I would be hypocritical to say: “No, I want Ruidiaz to be there, I want Roldan to be there”… We also have to understand that this is a great chance for us to make a result against a very good team.

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The Sounders are thin like Richard Simmons with Raúl Ruidíaz (Peru); Cristian Roldan (United States); Alex Roldan (Salvador); Xavier Arreaga (Ecuador); and Nouhou (Cameroon) all on international mission. Jordan Morris, Jordy Delem and Nico Lodeiro all return from long-term injuries, while Brad Smith tested positive for COVID-19 and is also out.

“I think it’s amazing with how many games we have left,” Sounders midfielder Kelyn Rowe told media this week. “I think that says a lot about the team we have this year and the depth we have. The fact that we can do it without five, six guys – and not just five, six guys (but) five, six starters – I think it’s amazing for everyone to witness that.

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Whitecaps have their own depth issues. Javain Brown (Jamaica) and Max Crepeau (Canada) are absent with their national teams, while Lucas Cavallini, Ranko Veselinovic, Erik Godoy and Andy Rose are injured. Full-back Cristian Gutierrez is available on the bench, but how Sartini will fill his backline remains a well-kept secret.

Sartini admitted he was going to have to allow the team to rotate down the home stretch, and having these players healthy for the weeks to come was paramount. The players will change, but the system will not change, it’s part of their philosophy to only have 100% fit players on the pitch.

The stretch race begins Saturday in Seattle, where they tied 2-2 on their last visit. This result came as he was mired in the throes of an eight-game winless streak; few can deny that the Caps made a difference from there.

“There is a lot of respect for the team, but there is no fear. We are going there to try to win the game, ”said Sartini. “We have to be 100% focused… on from the first minute to the 97th minute. If we lose that on the task, it will be difficult. But if we keep doing what we’re supposed to do, not thinking about the price at the end (the playoffs), but just thinking about what we’re supposed to do, I think we have our chance to win.

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