Saturday night at BC Place, the Vancouver Whitecaps will host the Seattle Sounders in the second meeting between these two teams north of the border this season. Back in May, Vancouver got the better of Seattle with an impressive 2-0 victory over their Cascadian rivals with goals from Pedro Vite and Ryan Gauld. Since that meeting, the Whitecaps have won the Canadian Championship and are an even 2-2-2 in league play. For Seattle, it’s been a mixed bag since the least meeting, with 2-3-2 record and only three wins overall in their last ten.
Currently, Seattle sits second in the West with 32 points from 21 matches, while Vancouver sits in ninth with 25 points from 19 matches. Seattle is the best team in MLS in terms of expected goal difference, at +12. The Sounders defensive record is incredibly impressive, having already tallied 11 clean sheets, and having only surrendered 2 or more goals 5 times, one of those against Vancouver. For the Whitecaps, while they are back down to the fringes of the playoff placings, the underlying data is still pretty favourable, they are fourth in the West in terms of expected goal difference, and third in expected goals.
Without leading scorer Jordan Morris, who is away with the USMNT for the Gold Cup, Seattle has played a 4-2-3-1 over their last couple of matches, featuring a combination of Nico Loderio, Albert Rusnak, and Leo Chu underneath either Raul Ruidiaz or Heber. After moving from Gremio to Seattle back in 2021, the Brazilian midfielder Chu has enjoyed a breakout campaign in his wide role, recording one goal and seven assists so far this year (good enough for second overall in MLS in terms of primary assists).
At the defensive end, consistency has been the name of the game. Stefan Frei has started all 21 matches for Seattle, while veteran Yeimar Gomez and 24-yeard-old Jackson Regan have been rock solid in the centre of the defence, starting 20 and 19 times respectively. In the past two fixtures, 17-year-old Obed Vargas, who was a recent breakout player for the US at the U-20 World Cup, has started alongside Joao Paulo in defensive midfield, showing off the impressive depth of Seattle’s squad and the way they can infuse young talent into a roster full of proven veterans.
For the Whitecaps, they will still be without Julian Gressel, Ali Ahmed, and Javain Brown, who are away at the Gold Cup. Thankfully, Brian White, Tristan Blackmon, and Russell Teibert have been back to full training this week after recovering from injuries, although Andres Cubas is now out after picking up a knock last weekend.
The last time these two teams met, Vancouver debuted a midfield pivot of Andres Cubas and Sebastian Berhalter which worked to great effect stifling Seattle’s attacking players, so it will be interesting to see if they try to re-create something similar without Cubas, especially with Ali Ahmed out of the picture and so few midfielders to choose from. With three straight home matchups before League’s Cup, Vancouver will want to take advantage of the friendly confines of BC Place in MLS play while they still can.
Overall, beating Seattle twice in the span of a few months is a challenge, even if those are both at home. However, Seattle is without their leading scorer and not generally in a great run of form, so it is certainly possible. I’m going to be conservative here and predict a 1-1 draw.
What do you expect from Vancouver against Seattle on Saturday, let me know in the comments!