VANCOUVER, B.C. – As with any Cascadia Cup matchup, a lot will be on the line when the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders battle it out Saturday for the first time this season in front of an expected loud and sold-out crowd at BC Place (7 pm ET; TSN2 in Canada, MLS Live).
Beyond regional bragging rights, there are also wider implications with Seattle currently on top of the Western Conference standings with the best record in the league, nine points clear of Vancouver, who have two games in hand.
Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson said it’s a chance for his young, exciting attack to prove themselves against the league’s hottest team.
"Arguably they're the best team in Major League Soccer at the moment," Robinson said of Seattle at training on Thursday. "The league table doesn't lie. So it's a good test for us to see where we are, and it's a test I'm looking forward to as a coach and I know my players certainly are.”
An attacking game looks to be in store, and Robinson feels that "there will be a lot of goals scored." Portland and Seattle have already served up a 4-4 Cascadian Cup classic this season. Will there be more of the same in store this weekend?
"They're a very good team, but so are we,” Robinson said. “We've got attacking weapons in our team that can hurt teams, so it's important that we focus on what we do defensively. And if we do that and let our forward players play, then it should be a very exciting game."
Vancouver left back Jordan Harvey would like to see a lot of goals, just as long as they're not at his end of the pitch.
"If you ask one of the attacking players, they'd be up for that,” Harvey told reporters. “But as a defender, I'd like to keep a clean sheet and that's what we kind of pride ourselves on. We don't want it to get opened up like that but if there is that many goals there's that many for us and not them."
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A lot has been made of Vancouver's exciting forward line this season, with 16 goals in 10 games, but at the other end of the pitch, the defense has been steadily going about their business, conceding just 12 goals and recording two shutouts.
Seattle lead MLS in scoring with 23 goals in 12 games and will surely test that defense. But Whitecaps' keeper David Ousted is confident that if Vancouver play to their strengths, then their own firepower will do a lot of damage to the visitors.
"They have a lot of dangerous guys," Ousted told reporters. "Up front and in the midfield, they've showed they can score goals but they've also showed they can concede them. If we can play our style of play and get at them from the first minute, then I think we have a good chance to win.
"We're a team that should go after everybody. We have a lot of young guys, a lot of hungry guys, especially up front. So we should try and go after each team in this league in the same way. Go straight at them."