A look at the contests to keep an eye on ahead of tonight's Sounders-Whitecaps FC match.
Sounders FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC
October 9, 2013, 7 pm PT; CenturyLink Field
TV/Radio: KONG 6/16; 710 ESPN Seattle; KOMO2 (Spanish); La Gran D 99.3 FM (Spanish)
Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC have split their two meetings this year, with each team winning on its home field. Wednesday night, they meet for the third and final time in the 2013 MLS regular season with much more on the line than the season series. A win for Seattle would clinch a playoff berth and the Cascadia Cup title, which can also be had with a draw, as well as vault Sounders FC back into the lead in the Supporters' Shield race.
Here are three key matchups to watch as Seattle pursues that quest.
Camilo Sanvezzo vs. Michael Gspurning
The Vancouver forward has been a hot commodity this year with 18 goals and five assists. Last week, his two goals against Portland earned him MLS Player of the Week honors. Sanvezzo has been a pest against Cascadia opposition, with 8 goals in 15 matches against Seattle and Portland. On Wednesday he goes up against a goalkeeper that has done well to keep Vancouver and Portland out of the net. Gspurning has four shutouts in eight matches against Seattle’s Northwest foes with a 0.75 goals against average. Stopping Sanvezzo won’t be solely the responsibility of Gspurning, though, as it will take the total team defensive effort that has been crucial to Seattle's recent run of form.
YP Lee vs. Seattle’s left side
The Whitecaps right back likes to get forward into the attack and Lee has earned five assists this season. There are two ways for Seattle to neutralize that threat. One is to be mindful of him getting forward, guarding against the Vancouver springing him forward and cutting off his service when he is able to get beyond the midfield stripe. The other is to make him mindful of his defensive responsibilities. If Seatle can pose an offensive threat up the left side, it will force Lee into more of a defensive posture than he is comfortable with and will limit his opportunities in the attack.
Obafemi Martins vs. Jay DeMerit
The Vancouver center back has started just three matches since returning from a ruptured achilles and so far the defensive efforts have not been bad, with three goals allowed in those three matches. What Martins will need to do, and so will Lamar Neagle if he is the strike partner for Martins, is get DeMerit into one-on-one situations. The quickness of Seattle’s forward tandem is the type of matchup that causes DeMerit issues. Martins and Neagle connected on the game-winning goal against the Whitecaps at CenturyLink Field on June 8. If they are on the same page on Wednesday, it could be a long night for Vancouver.