The Sounders returned to MLS league play last weekend against DC United and camea way with 1-0 victory. The club will look to emulate that performance on Saturday against Cascadia rivals to the north, Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Let's see how the bad guys stack up from the perspective of the club's MLSsoccer.com beat reporter Michael McCool in the latest edition of "From The Other Side".
Dangerman - Pedro Morales
Vancouver's attack has speed to burn and Seattle fans don't need reminding of what Kekuta Manneh can do with that pace if you let him. Take him out of the game and you have Erik Hurtado, who had scored five goals in five games going into the World Cup break. And if that's not enough, there's Darren Mattocks.
But for all the troubles these three speedsters can cause, the team wouldn't be where they are this season with the stellar play of new DP Pedro Morales.
He is truly the Whitecaps engine and so much goes through the Chilean. He can stroke sublime, pinpoint passes around the pitch and make them look easy. He leads the team in goals (6), assists (5) and shots (44) and has shown several times this season that he is a big game player, rising to the occasion and relishing the atmosphere. And as we know, they don't come much bigger than a Cascadia Cup clash
Player To Keep An Eye On – Gerson Koffie
Gershon Koffie. We should maybe have tipped Stefan Frei off about that one for the last game! The Ghanaian will be hungry this weekend after being rested by Carl Robinson for last week's loss to Colorado to keep him fresh for this game.
Favorite Stat - Goals from all over
Nine players have already found the net for the Whitecaps FC this season in its 15 games to date. That total for the whole of last season was just eleven and it would be a major surprise for that number not be exceeded considerably this year.
A complaint last season was that Vancouver was relying too heavily on Camilo and Kenny Miller. If neither were performing, the Whitecaps had little else. Both are now away and the current crop of Caps have stepped up to the plate and can provide goals from all over the park, with some yet to get off the mark.
Moment of the Month
The last game before the World Cup break at Philadelphia was a strange match which showed the best and the worst of the Whitecaps. They jumped out to a two goal lead, then collapsed with conceding three goals in seven minutes before fighting back for a valuable point. That equalising goal could have a significant impact on the team for the rest of the season.
The fighting spirit was a huge boost for the Caps and something that was missing, especially on the road, last season. It shows that this team will fight to that final whistle and not let their heads down when they go behind.
A Growing Rivalry
So much is made of the wonderful, and often hate fuelled Seattle-Portland games that Vancouver can sometimes feel like the third wheel in Cascadia. In many ways that plays into the Whitecaps hands as they go about their business quietly and lift the Cascadia Cup, with fans of the Sounders just pleased that it isn't the Timbers and vice versa.
That may all change. The recent games between Seattle and Vancouver have been fantastic and action packed. The 4-1 game and the controversial DeMerit penalty call in May has ramped this rivalry up nicely.
When I asked Carl Robinson earlier this season about the ever-increasing Seattle-Vancouver rivalry he described it as becoming "something special". Saturday's game may only add to it.
Three Thoughts On The Match:
1) Form goes out the window in these Cascadia Cup derbies. No matter who plays, or how strong or weak either side is perceived to be, every player raises their game and their levels for these matches.
2) Which Whitecaps will show up? The one that was on an eight-game unbeaten run and scoring for fun or the one that hasn't created anything or scored a goal in their past two games.
3) The Cascadia Cup winners the past two years have not made the playoffs. A poisoned chalice? Does this mean Portland will win it back again this season?