MLS Preview: Seattle Sounders at Vancouver Whitecaps

Leave a comment
  • 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.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

AP Photo/Armando Franca
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia