Djimi Traore, Nigel Reo-Coker

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.

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

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

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)

Wenger lauds team spirit following Arsenal’s big win

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Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]

United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.

All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]

Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.

You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.

[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.

[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.

The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.

Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.