The second round of the MLS playoffs begin on Sunday night when the first of the Conference semi-finals gets underway. We are up to two legged contests in both Conferences now and we begin in the Western Conference where the Vancouver Whitecaps host the Seattle Sounders in the first leg of their battle.
These two sides form two thirds of the Cascadia Cup contest so there will be no love lost between the two which should make for a competitive and hard fought tie for the right to face Portland or Houston in the Conference final.
It has been an up and down couple of weeks for the Vancouver Whitecaps. It looked like they were coasting to the top spot in the Western Conference but then they lost out to the Portland Timbers in the final match of the regular season which sent them down to third and having to play a knockout match to get to this stage.
They could easily have slipped up in that game on Wednesday night given how much of a mental blow it must have been just to be in that round but to be fair to them they came out and delivered an emphatic victory which has actually set them up pretty nicely for this first leg. They will know the need for a victory to take to Seattle next week.
The Sounders almost went unnoticed on Decision Day but they ended up finishing second in the table and had midweek off as a result. Whether that will benefit them or not remains to be seen but the positive was they didn’t need to travel anywhere which would have made life much more difficult for them.
This Seattle side will know that they are very good at CenturyLink Field but perhaps not quite as secure on the road so their aim here could well be to keep things tight and ensure the tie is still alive when they head back home. In order to do that they will need to defend well but if they can pinch a goal along the way so much the better.
It is never easy to second guess a Carl Robinson team selection but if ever he is going to be unchanged it will be after a 5-0 win last time out. If a change is made then it could involve Brek Shea starting the match.
Seattle Sounders head across the border depleted with both injuries and suspensions. They will be without the suspended Clint Dempsey while Jordan Morris is out. Ozzie Alonso, Victor Rodriguez and Gustav Svensson are questionable.
I think this will be an attempt at damage limitation for the Seattle Sounders. They are not good on the road and they are missing some key players not least their lynchpin Clint Dempsey so I don’t see them being overly adventurous here.
Vancouver Whitecaps will be fully away of Seattle’s home record and if they are going to have a chance of winning this tie you would think they have to make sure they head to Washington with the lead after 90 minutes. If they play like they did on Wednesday night the Whitecaps will be very difficult to contain. Should Seattle not offer much offensively I think the Canadians can pick up the win they need from this first leg.
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