TUKWILA, Wash. – Cascadia Cup bragging rights are on the line this Saturday as the Seattle Sounders get set to make the trip across the border and take on the Vancouver Whitecaps in a high-stakes match-up between Western Conference playoff contenders (10 pm ET; MLSsoccer.com Stream of the Week). What’s not certain, however, is just how much firepower Seattle will bring to the fight.
The Sounders face questions regarding the availability of two top contributors in forward Clint Dempsey and defender DeAndre Yedlin, both of whom have been away while playing for the US national team in the 2014 World Cup.
Speaking with reporters after practice on Thursday, Seattle head coach Sigi Schmid said there is an outside chance Seattle will have Yedlin and Dempsey this weekend, but both players will likely be given one more match of rest before returning to the club.
“[The World Cup] is a physically demanding tournament, but it’s also a mentally very demanding situation – you need a break,” Schmid said. “I think when people push [players] back too early it’s not good.”
Schmid said that if Dempsey and Yedlin miss this weekend’s game, the pair would definitely return for Seattle’s next MLS match against Portland on July 13. Seattle have won four of five since losing the duo to international duty.
The Sounders also regain the services of their other top offensive threat in forward Obafemi Martins, who was suspended for last weekend’s 1-0 victory at D.C. United after getting a red card against Chicago on June 7 (WATCH IT HERE). On the flip side, they’ll be without their starting central midfield duo of Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda, both out on yellow card accumulation.
It should make for a reserve-heavy lineup, something the Sounders have gotten used to. They’ve been able to maintain their winning ways thanks to a deep bench headed by Chad Barrett, who has made the most of his increased playing time. The veteran forward has started Seattle’s last four matches and tallied three goals, including the go-ahead score during last weekend’s win against D.C.
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The significance of the Northwest rivalry is not lost on Barrett, who spent last season with the New England Revolution and is relishing his time in the Cascadia clash.
“I love it,” Barrett said of the fanfare surrounding the Cascadia Cup. “I love when the soccer has more meaning than just the league and the Supporters’ Shield. We take so much pride in it.”
Seattle has yet to emerge victorious from a Cascadia Cup match so far this season, notching a wild 4-4 draw against Portland on April 5 and another 2-2 deadlock against Vancouver in the teams’ first meeting of the season on May 24.