Kelvin Leerdam vs. Vancouver 2017-10-25
USA Today Sports

Western Conference Semifinals Preview: A look at the Seattle Sounders-Vancouver Whitecaps series

The Seattle Sounders are taking on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday in the first leg of the Western Conference Semifinals of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs. Here is everything you need to know:

WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is on Sunday, Oct. 29 at 5:30 p.m. PT from BC Place in Vancouver, B.C., Canada. The return leg will be at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. PT. Tickets are now on sale.

WHERE TO WATCH: The first leg will be televised on ESPN. The second will be on FS1.

WHERE TO LISTEN: The first leg will be streamed live on SoundersFC.com. The second will air on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM.

FINAL 2017 RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Sounders: 14-9-11 (53 points, 2nd West), Whitecaps: 15-12-7 (52 points, 3rd West).

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Sounders: Bye. Whitecaps: 5-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes in the Knockout Round.

ALL-TIME HISTORY: The Sounders are 8-7-5 against the Whitecaps in MLS play all time, including a 4-3-4 mark in Vancouver.

RECENT MEETINGS: Seattle and Vancouver split the points in their three matches this season, going 1-1-1. The Whitecaps won 2-1 at BC Place in April, the teams drew 1-1 at BC Place in August and the Sounders won 3-0 at CenturyLink Field in September.

CASCADIA DOMINANCE: The Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps finished as the top three teams in the Western Conference, respectively, this year. All three made the playoffs for the first time since Portland and Vancouver entered MLS in 2011.

LOOMING INJURIES: Captain Osvaldo Alonso (quad), forward Jordan Morris (hamstring), midfielder Gustav Svensson (hamstring) and midfielder Víctor Rodríguez (quad) are all battling injuries, and each missed the final match of the regular season. Their respective statuses for Sunday in Vancouver are up in the air.

DEMPSEY SUSPENDED: Sounders forward Clint Dempsey will miss the first leg in Vancouver due to a red card he received last Sunday against the Colorado Rapids in the last match of the regular season. He will be eligible to play in the return leg in Seattle.

CONSISTENTLY CONSISTENT: The Sounders finished the regular season with Major League Soccer’s best record since their entrance in 2009, sporting a 137-90-71 record over the past nine regular seasons.

PLAYOFF EXPERIENCE: Fourteen players, including eight starters, return from last year’s MLS Cup-winning team, playoff experience the team will be counting on beginning on Sunday.

KNOCKOUT ROUND BREEZE: The Whitecaps steamrolled the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday in the Knockout Round at BC Place by way of a commanding 5-0 result. It was the franchise’s first MLS playoff victory.

DROUGHT OVER: Whitecaps forward, and former Seattle Sounder, Fredy Montero scored the opening goal in the 33rd minute for Vancouver on Wednesday, the first of his MLS playoff career. Montero spent four seasons in Seattle from 2009-12, but he never found the back of the net in 10 career postseason matches.

TROUBLESOME TRIO: Attackers Montero, Cristian Techera and Yordy Reyna led the Whitecaps in goals this season, and in the seven matches they’ve started together, no opponent has kept all three off the scoresheet nor defeated Vancouver.

COUNTERATTACKS AND SET PIECES: The Whitecaps’ M.O. all season has been to concede the majority of possession and then blitzkrieg in the other direction after forcing a turnover. Pacey midfielders Techera and Reyna lead the charge and bury opponents’ mistakes. Vancouver also capitalizes on set pieces — two of the Whitecaps’ five goals on Wednesday came from corner kicks and a third from a direct free kick — with aerial threats Kendall Waston and Tim Parker among others.

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