TUKWILA, Wash. – Need motivation?
The Sounders shouldn’t after a 5-1 loss Saturday in Colorado. Restoring some measure of pride, one would think, is enough.
But there will be plenty of reward in store for Seattle with a good performance tonight against Pacific Northwest soccer rival Vancouver at CenturyLink Field.
First off, a win would clinch a playoff berth, something the Sounders have failed to accomplish their past two games.
Secondly, a win or tie would allow Seattle to reclaim the Cascadia Cup, an annual competition with the Whitecaps and Portland Timbers that dates to 2004.
Also, the Sounders have a chance to jump back to the top of the Western Conference and possibly regain the best record in MLS.
Add in a quick turnaround and the combination sets up as a perfect remedy for the weekend’s disappointment.
“It’s good we can play again right away,” said defender Marc Burch, “because if you have a week to think about the loss, a week to talk about it, it gets a little bit redundant and frustrating. Everybody wants to learn from our last game, forget about it and move on, and there’s nothing better than winning the Cascadia Cup, qualifying for the playoffs and beating a rival. That’s an ideal situation, as long as we do it.”
Seattle, even with a defeat tonight, could clinch the Cascadia Cup with a road win Sunday at Portland. The Sounders would be the first team to win the fan-sponsored competition four times, as the trophy has been evenly split the past nine years.
Vancouver won in 2004, 2005 and 2008. Portland won in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Seattle won in 2006, 2007 and 2011.
Coach Sigi Schmid said the Sounders have made a point of stressing the Cascadia Cup the past couple of days: “We’d rather (win it) at home.”
Captain Mauro Rosales echoed that to the team website: “We want to bring back the cup to our fans — they deserve it. … We need to do something for them after their support all year.”
Seattle fans have had to be especially patient this year amid personnel issues, and many will have an effect again tonight.
Starters Eddie Johnson and Brad Evans are away with the U.S. national team for World Cup qualifying. Injuries could limit other standouts like Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Djimi Traore. Defender Zach Scott will also be serving the first of a two-game suspension.
Schmid said Tuesday, though, that Dempsey would at least be on the bench. Martins and Traore are expected to be available but perhaps at reduced capacity, as well.
There was wonder leaguewide why Dempsey would play for the Sounders after avoiding a national team call-up due to injury, but Schmid noted that he talked it out with U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“We want him ready for the playoffs; Jurgen wants him ready, as well, for … everything else, so it’s a win-win for both sides,” said Schmid.