Sounders FC visit BC Place tonight to face the Vancouver Whitecaps. The pre-match buzz seems to be about the first time for Fredy Montero to face his former club. (FOX Q13, 7 PM)
The Cascadia Cup returns this Friday, when the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders will start the 2017 edition of the three-pronged Pacific Northwest competition at BC Place.
Both clubs could do with a win, particularly Vancouver. The Whitecaps have endured a rough start to 2017, posting a 1-3-1 record in their first five matches of the year. They fought valiantly in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals against Tigres, but ultimately fell short in the second leg last Wednesday before a reserve-heavy lineup got throttled 3-0 in the snow at Real Salt Lake on Saturday.
Friday’s match will be an especially big one for Vancouver striker Fredy Montero, who will be suiting up against Seattle, where he played from 2009-13, for the first time since returning to MLS this winter.
“I’m just wondering how is that feeling going to be for me and for all the people that used to be supporting me [in Seattle],” Montero said on Tuesday. “To be honest, it’s not going to be any different than the other games for me [in that] I would like to win, I’m going to do everything I have to win. But this game, it’s going to be special, that’s for sure.”
Vancouver enters at 1-3-1 and is coming off a 3-0 loss to Real Salt Lake in a snowstorm and a midweek loss to Tigres UANL in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League. Carl Robinson’s squad is rather banged up offensively at the moment, with Brek Shea out indefinitely and Erik Hurtado nursing a foot contusion, but the Whitecaps are still capable of scoring at home, as they showed two weeks ago in their 4-2 win over the LA Galaxy.
So if you’re the Seattle Sounders, who also have just one win in five matches and are coming off two hard-fought draws, how do you take down your Pacific Northwest rivals on the road?
You send to contain Alphonso Davies on his side of the pitch, prevent Vancouver from hitting on the counterattack and send runners down the flanks offensively.
The Whitecaps utilize the same 4-2-3-1 formation as the Sounders so much of what Seattle will see will look similar to how they line up in practice. The ‘Caps love to push outside fullbacks Sheanon Williams and Jordan Harvey forward. The offensive midfield trio of Cristian Techera, Christian Bolaños and Alphonso Davies love to stay compact in the center of the park along with defensive midfielders Andrew Jacobson and Matias Laba to make room for their overlapping fullbacks.
Can Seattle handle the counter? For as long as I can remember, Vancouver has been a quick-hitting offense. From the years of Rosales dropping dimes from the wing, to the time spent hoping Morales would become the next big-time South American playmaker in MLS, they have had a troubled relationship with extended possession. This year Robinson seems to have gone all-in on the counter, eschewing all but the barest minimum of possession – their match against the Galaxy looked more like a track meet than a soccer match (the inclement weather in Rio Tinto last week makes it hard to give any credence to anything that happened there).
The style suits the roster, and the switch at forward from Hurtado to Montero at half added teeth to an otherwise Joe Calzaghe-esque attack (for you non-boxing fans, that’s lots of punches, but nothing with any weight behind it). The threatening attacks came almost exclusively via route one, a directness that succeeded because of a mixture of creative through balls and individual skill.