VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Vancouver Whitecaps can still win some silverware — and the fact the Cascadia Cup is a fan-created trophy makes it that little bit extra special.
“It’s important for the supporters and for us,” attacker Davide Chiumiento told MLSsoccer.com after training on Thursday. “Seattle, Portland and Vancouver because of the rivalry – we look forward because they’ve had a better season that we’ve had result wise, so the [Cascadia Cup] is something we can really try to win and try to finish well.”
As things stand, the Whitecaps have their destiny in their own hands. If they can win their next two matches, first against the Seattle Sounders on Saturday (10:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online, TSN in Canada) and then against the Portland Timbers on Oct. 2, the trophy will be theirs for the fourth time in their history.
With both matches being special occasions — the final day at Empire Field is this Saturday, and the opening day at the new BC Place Stadium is on Oct. 2 — the ‘Caps will surely get a boost, as if they needed it for derby matches.
“What better situation than Seattle coming in – I’m sure they’ll have a decent crew there,” interim head coach Tom Soehn said. “Empire has been a fantastic facility for us to start. We’re looking forward to closing out the season there in a positive way, and what better team to do it against than Seattle?”
If the ‘Caps win against Seattle and draw the Timbers, things could get interesting, as the teams would end up tied on points and in head-to-head matches, leading to the likelihood of the cup being decided on goal differential.
But Vancouver hope to take care of business in these two matches and ensure all that time working out permutations was for nothing.
“As we move on to the end of the season, we need to look at this Cascadia Cup as the last goal of the season,” captain Jay DeMerit said. “We’ve fallen short on some of our main goals this season, so to look to this as an inspiration to finish the season in the right way is what we’ll look to do.”
Vagenas faces Schmid
For veteran Peter Vagenas, going up against Seattle coach Sigi Schmid is something to relish. Vagenas played for Schmid both at UCLA and with the LA Galaxy.
“Obviously I have a lot of history with the coach,” Vagenas said. “He was my college coach, he recruited me out of high school and he was my professional coach.
“He’s arguably the best, if not one of the best coaches in the league,” Vagenas continued. “He taught me early on how to be a pro, so there’s a lot of respect there, but at the same time I want to kick his [butt] as badly as I’ve wanted to beat anybody.”
Alain Rochat will miss Saturday’s match due to a suspension for yellow-card accumulation. The favorite to replace him in central defense will be Michael Boxall, who has played an impressive 16 games in his rookie season.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.