MLS Preview: Seattle Sounders at Vancouver Whitecaps

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  • Vancouver are undefeated at home, with a 6-0-4 record
  • Seattle are unbeaten against the ‘Caps going 3-0-3
  • MLS leading goalscorer Camilo has 10 goals for the Whitecaps

This is it guys, a huge Cascadia Cup clash is tabled for Saturday night as the Vancouver Whitecaps host the Seattle Sounders at BC Place on Saturday evening.

You can watch the game live on NBC Sports Network, 11pm ET, as these arch rivals face off for bragging rights in one of Major League Soccer’s largest rivalries.

Both teams are in fine form, with Vancouver defeating D.C. United 1-0 on the road before drawing 1-1 with Sporting Kansas City last time out. While Seattle also beat D.C. as Obafemi Martins scored twice to down United on Wednesday night at CenturyLink Field.

Vancouver are still searching for their first-ever win against Seattle in MLS play, with the Sounders undefeated in six contests between the two teams. But ‘Caps coach Martin Rennie must be confident heading into this game, after his side seem to have fixed their jinx on the road.

The Whitecaps have had a terrible time away from BC Place since joining MLS, but they have lost just once in their last five away games. Bad news. That was against Seattle, in a pulsating 3-2 defeat which saw Vancouver leading 2-1 but the Sounders rally to score two late goals.

However Rennie’s team are 5-1-2 in their last eight games and the Scotsman is their improving home form is helping with confidence heading into this huge clash. “In the first year, the team didn’t win on the road, but last year we won I think three games, we’ve now won at least two so far this season,” said Rennie. “We need to improve on that if we want to be right up there in the table.”

Perhaps the improved form on the road has something to do with Vancouver’s intense table tennis tournaments whilst traveling?

Anyway, Vancouver will be missing winger Russell Teibert, who has been a revelation in recent weeks. He is away with Canada on Gold Cup duty. While defender Andy O’Brien could make a return but is listed as questionable.

As for Seattle, it has been a strange season for Sigi Schmid’s men, who are up and down like a yo-yo. Just when it seems as if they’ve turned the corner, Seattle flounder. That was the case against Real Salt Lake in a 2-0 defeat earlier this month. But the team from the Emerald City are hoping for better luck on the road this time out.

Osvaldo Alonso and Steve Zakuani are still missing for Seattle, while Honduran international Mario Martinez is off the Sounders roster and is unlikely to return.

As for the rivalry, these old foes go back quite some time if you open up the history books. During their days in the NASL and United Soccer League First Division they clashed often, with the Sounders just coming coming out on top all-time with a record of 57-42-18.

In terms of the 2013 Cascadia Cup, the Whitecaps are currently in last place with one point, while Portland are second with two points, and Seattle first with four points. A win for the ‘Caps would take them to the top of the standings. That seems like extra incentive for Vancouver, not that they need any.

OTHER NOTES: There could be as many as seven former EPL players on the pitch, with Lee Young-Pyo, Nigel Reo-Coker, Kenny Miller, Andy O’Brien, Obafemi Martins, Eddie Johnson and Djimi Traore all expected to be included in the match day squads.

Costa statement: Let me go, “I must return to Atletico Madrid”

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Diego Costa has made his intentions clear: he plans to leave Chelsea as soon as possible and return to Atletico Madrid, and only Atletico Madrid.

[ MORE: Top takeaways from Costa’s incredible rant ]

Following his explosive interview over the weekend, in which he blames manager Antonio Conte for sabotaging a new contract which was to be signed earlier this year and reveals he has returned to his childhood home in Brazil to wait out the whole ordeal, Costa released a short statement on Thursday in which he states in no uncertain terms that his mind is made up regarding his future:

“My destination is already set. I must return to Atletico Madrid next season. It turns out that there is the impasse that Chelsea does not want to release me. But I believe that this situation will be resolved now on my return to Spain.”

The main hurdle standing between Costa and a return to Atleti is the club’s transfer ban which is in place until January. Los Rojiblancos can technically sign players this summer, but will be unable to register said player(s) until the start of the next window.

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

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Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.