Seattle Sounders FC 2 looking for another Cascadia win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2

Seattle Sounders FC 2 hits the road for the first time this season, traveling to Vancouver, B.C., for their second consecutive Cascadia clash on Saturday, April 8 (3 p.m. PT; The Rave Green enter in fine form on the back of a resounding win over bitter rivals Portland Timbers 2.

From a tactical perspective, S2’s style of play and personnel suit this matchup quite nicely. Whitecaps 2 have yet to win a match in the 2017 USL campaign despite creating 19 chances in just two games. A pair of midfield maestros for the Canadian side, Ben McKendry and Deybi Flores, have set up 42 percent of the squad’s opportunities on goal with their stellar play in the middle of the park.

The young Whitecaps generate a plethora of chances because they push their outside backs so high and wide that it creates gaps in the middle where their playmakers can operate. And while McKendry and Flores account for nearly half of the team’s offensive production, over 20 percent of Vancouver’s chances have come from the left back position.

WFC2’s reliance on playmakers through the middle and numerical overloads on the outside play directly into S2’s defensive system. The Rave Green employ Ray Saari and Francisco Narbon as a defensive-double pivot directly in front of a compact back four, which clogs the middle and forces the opponent to attack down the flanks. Once the opposition picks a wide channel, S2’s wingers pinch in and help their outside backs high-press the opponent into a turnover. And since the Canadians push their fullbacks so far forward in support of the attack, there will be plenty of space out wide for S2’s pacey players, like Seyi Adekoya and Shandon Hopeau, to hit on the counter after regaining possession.

Here are three storylines to watch as the young Sounders travel north in search of an early-season sweep of their regional rivals.

Sounders Academy Success

Sounders Academy U-18 captain Sam Rogers has started and played every minute at center back so far this season, and has turned plenty of heads with his composure and game-recognition. With Saari and Narbon providing a defensive shield in front of him, Rogers can showcase his range of passing by setting the tempo of the match while operating as a deep-lying playmaker.

With S2 trailing T2 1-0 last weekend, a pair of Sounders Academy products handed the Rave Green all three points. Adekoya came off the bench in the 64th minute and leveled the score immediately with his first professional goal, while fellow Homegrown Player Henry Wingo set up the winner with a clever flicked pass in the box.

Adekoya and Richey Rematch

Goalkeeper Spencer Richey, who signed a contract with Vancouver’s first team after impressing for WFC2 in 2016, has played every minute of USL action in goal this season. Richey will face a familiar foe in Adekoya, against whom he played twice in 2014 when they suited up for the University of Washington and UCLA, respectively. Adekoya got the better of Richey that year by scoring the game-winning goals in both matches, including a late tally for the Bruins at Husky Stadium.  

Coach’s Take

“We’re excited for another Cascadia matchup,” said S2 head coach Ezra Hendrickson. “Vancouver is a very good team, so we expect a very good game. We know they’re a very technical team, they usually have a lot of technical guys in the middle of the park. We just have to go in with the right tactical plan and make sure we stick to that plan. I thought everyone gave a good account for themselves in their first Cascadia game [against Timbers 2]. We always talk about how these are emotional games, but we can’t just play with emotion and need to stick to the tactics.”



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