VANCOUVER, B.C. — There’s always a lot on the line in Cascadian derbies, but Saturday evening's clash between the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps (10 pm ET | TSN — Full TV & streaming info) may rise to even another level.
One narrow point divides Seattle, which sits above the playoff line in sixth in the Western Conference, from Vancouver, which sits in seventh just below it.
And both teams are fully aware of the importance of this one, as they head into the match each in a good run of form. Vancouver are unbeaten now in six matches, four of them wins. Seattle are on an even better run, unbeaten in 11 games, with eight straight wins, and ‘Caps coach Carl Robinson is expecting a fierce battle between two of the league's most in-form teams.
“We’re both in the same boat,” Robinson told reporters at Whitecaps training on Tuesday. “We’re both on good runs. Obviously they’ve strung [together] eight consecutive wins. I’ve watched all their games and I think they’ve deserved most of them. I think they’ve been lucky in one or two of them, but so have we.
“It’s a new game of football. There’ll be freshness in the game, as with all derbies. Whenever you play Seattle or Portland there’ll be energy, mistakes, wrong decisions, and it’ll be down to the players as to who will win the game.”
While Seattle struggled early, managing only two wins from their first 11 matches in 2018, Vancouver have been in or around the playoff places all season long.
The Sounders have broken the single-season record for winning streak previously held by 2012 Sporting Kansas City and in the process steadily climbed the table, moving into the playoff places and within eight points of the conference lead with a game in hand.
Robinson expected nothing less from Brian Schmetzer’s men, feeling their lowly position early wasn’t a fair reflection of their quality. Having watched Seattle closely all year, he’s in no doubt why they’re now currently racking up the wins.
“They’ve got good players,” Robinson stated. “Seattle are a good team. They’ve got a number of key players in key areas. Obviously the front two are dangerous, they’ve developed a nice little relationship between themselves, but they’ve got good players scattered all over. They’re pretty solid at the back and they’ve got a good goalkeeper as well.
“They’re on a good run of form, but we’ll concentrate on us. We’ve also got good players. Good young players, who like to run, have got plenty of energy, and we’re on a good run as well, so we’ll look forward to the game.”
Seattle’s current winning run started with their 2-0 win over Vancouver at Century Link Field on July 21. Having already ended Portland’s 15 match unbeaten streak last month, Robinson would love nothing more to end another rival’s record-breaking run.
“We know where we are in the standings,” Robinson said. “We can play spoiler. We will try and play spoiler, and if we can then we can get into that top six, which will probably be against everyone’s judgement.”