May 26th, 2024

Whitecaps look to bounce back against Sounders in Cascadia clash

By Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press on April 19, 2024.

The Vancouver Whitecaps aren't dwelling on their fall from the top spot in Major League Soccer's Western Conference. Seattle Sounders' Nouhou Tolo, left, gets his hand in the face of Vancouver Whitecaps' Brian White as they vie for the ball during the second half of an MLS soccer match in Vancouver, on Saturday, July 8, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER – The Vancouver Whitecaps aren’t dwelling on their fall from the top spot in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference.

After all, there’s a lot of soccer still to be played.

The Whitecaps (4-2-1) dropped a 3-1 decision to the L.A. Galaxy last Saturday and sit in second spot on the West heading into a rivalry matchup with the Sounders (1-3-3) in Seattle this weekend.

Moving back up the standings requires moving forward on the field, said Vancouver striker Brian White.

“It’s about turning the page, learning from our mistakes and getting a result out of Seattle this weekend,” he said.

The Whitecaps proved their ability to bounce back in recent campaigns. During Vanni Sartini’s time as head coach, the club has responded to a loss by going on to claim at least one point from its next regular-season game 19 out of 28 times.

Repeating the feat this weekend won’t be easy, White said. Especially in Seattle, where the Cascadia rivalry between the Whitecaps, Sounders and Portland Timbers runs deep.

“(Seattle) has good players and good players will punish you if you let up. So we have to put our best foot forward,” White said. “Even if they haven’t had a great start to the season, they’ve got great players on their team who could turn it on at any moment. So we have to be prepared for that.”

The Sounders struggled with injuries early this season, losing their new Argentine star Pedro de la Vega to a hamstring ailment at the beginning of March.

The team has been healthier in recent weeks though, and has a number of “underrated” players, including attacking midfielder Cristian Roldan, Sartini said.

“Seattle’s a really good team. It’s true they didn’t start well. But they’ve found their rhythm the last few games,” he said. “So they’re actually probably in their best moment of the season.”

In order to collect points against the Sounders, the ‘Caps will need to clean up the defensive mistakes they made against the Galaxy last week and take better care of the ball in front of their goal, the coach said.

“We know that Seattle’s going to be a really, really hard game. But there’s no revolution to do. It’s just keep working on what we’re doing,” he said.

Vancouver will be without one key offensive piece on Saturday.

Off-season acquisition Fafa Picault left the game against L.A. in the 15th minute with lower-back spasms. The injury isn’t major, Sartini said, but it will keep Picault out of the lineup this week.

“It’s not a thing we envision being very long,” he said.

Picault has three goals and two assists for the ‘Caps, tied with White for the team lead in scoring.

Offence has been by committee early in the campaign, however, with nine different players contributing goals across the first seven outings.

“I think we have a good arsenal of weapons every time that we go and play a game. And we’ve showed this,” Sartini said. “We’ve already scored (15) goals. That’s one of the positives of the season.”

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS (4-2-1) AT SEATTLE SOUNDERS (1-3-3)

Lumen Field, Saturday

NIFTY FIFTY: Both clubs are celebrating their 50th anniversary this season. The Whitecaps have a 52-73-26 all-time record against the Sounders dating back to North American Soccer League play in 1974.

KEEP IT CLEAN: The Sounders are coming off back-to-back shutouts, having blanked CF Montreal 5-0 on April 6 and battled FC Dallas to a 0-0 draw on April 13. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei has 107 MLS clean sheets, five behind all-time league leader Kevin Hartman.

ROAD WARRIORS: Vancouver is perfect on the road so far this season. The ‘Caps took a 2-0 win over the Earthquakes in San Jose on March 9, then beat FC Dallas 3-1 in Texas on March 16. The Galaxy are the only team in the league with more away wins (3).

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2024.

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