The away 0-0 draw at Vancouver last night felt more like a loss than most actual losses have in a while for the Rave Green faithful, even though the Sounders officially clinched their fourth straight playoff berth.
Playing a consistent Starting XI for only the second time this season, Seattle Sounders FC were poised to break through and beat their rival to the north.
Things took an even sweeter turn for Seattle when Vancouver’s
brightest star went dim when Darren Mattocks exited the game late in the first half due to a hamstring injury.
It was supposed to be a perfect storm. But then a very typical Sounders situation occurred — we fell flat.
A healthy Mauro Rosales and Christian Tiffert held the ball to perfection, weaving a tapestry throughout the midfield, before either them, or another attacker failed to find the final ball. This lineup, the same starters that beat Chivas USA 6-2 no more than a month ago, looked slightly disconnected at the most pivotal times of the match.
On the flip side, maybe the biggest positive to take away from the night was the clean sheet from the back four and keeper Michael Gspurning. Center back Jeff Parke had a world-class first half, including two huge stops of Mattocks, and at times even did his part to save partner Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and the forward-thinking Adam Johansson.
The result though leaves important points on the table in both the MLS standings and Cascadia Cup race.
A long week of practice and preparation will lead up to Sunday evening’s match at the CLink where the Cascadia Cup could ultimately be decided against Portland. An estimated 67,000 people are expected to show up for this one, and the tension and atmosphere may reach a level never before seen on the Xbox pitch.
In order to retain the Cascadia Cup, the Sounders need a win at home against Portland Sunday. A full explanation of the breakdown can be found here.
Check back later this week for a full Portland preview, but in the meantime here’s a look at the current MLS playoff standings and potential opponents for Seattle.
MLS Western Conference Standings —
1. San Jose – 61 points – 31GP
2. Sale Lake – 52 points – 31GP
3. Los Angeles – 49 points – 30 GP – 54GF (goals for/MLS top tiebreaker)
4. Seattle – 49 points – 30GP – 45GF
5. Vancouver – 39 points – 31GP
Current Sounders playoff matchup — Vancouver in play-in round. Winner of that would then go on to face San Jose, first match at home, second at San Jose.
What Sounders need to do — The goal is simple, get to third place. From there you avoid the dreaded play-in round, and San Jose until the conference finals. A second place finish is even better, and still very likely with a game in hand over RSL and LA (who play tonight) and matches against both those sides as well. Losses in those matches though could spell a definite fourth place finish for the Rave Green.