Already missing several players due to injury, the Seattle Sounders are also losing two top scorers to national team duty just as they attempt to grab the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race.
The Vancouver Whitecaps hope to catch them at an opportune time and keep their slim playoff chances alive.
The short-handed Sounders look to extend their franchise-record home unbeaten streak to 15 games Wednesday night when they take on the Cascadia Cup rival Whitecaps.
Playing without forward Obaemi Martins (hip), midfielders Clint Dempsey (hamstring) and Steve Zakuani and defenders Djimi Traore (hamstring) and Leo Gonzalez (hip/groin), Seattle suffered its first loss in eight matches with a 5-1 defeat at Colorado on Saturday.
The Sounders (15-9-6) allowed the most goals in the five-year history of the franchise. They had given up three total while going 5-0-2 over their previous seven matches.
Now Seattle tries to bounce back and move atop the Supporters’ Shield standings. The Sounders are two points behind New York for that spot and one behind Real Salt Lake for the Western Conference lead, but they have two games in hand on both. They also have a game in hand on Sporting Kansas City, which is tied with Seattle and also plays Wednesday while the Red Bulls and Salt Lake are idle.
The Sounders are seeking their 11th win in 13 home matches. They’re 10-0-4 at CenturyLink Field since a 1-0 loss to Montreal in the season opener March 2, outscoring opponents 27-9 during that undefeated run.
While the status of their five injured players is uncertain, Seattle will definitely be without midfielder Brad Evans and forward Eddie Johnson against the Whitecaps (11-11-9). They’ve left to join the U.S. team for World Cup qualifying games.
Johnson has a team-high nine goals, including five in his last eight matches and the Sounders’ lone tally Saturday. Evans has four goals on the season, including three in his last four home games.
“They are important for our team, but we are prepared,” captain Mauro Rosales told the team’s official website. “Every player has to step up for the game and they are ready. Everyone wants to be part of the success of the team.”
With a win or a draw, Seattle can clinch its second Cascadia Cup title in three years. The Sounders lead those standings with seven points (2-1-1), Vancouver is second with six points (1-1-3) and Portland is third with four.
“The test against Vancouver will be interesting,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “The game is an important game for them, but it’s also an important game for us.”
With three matches remaining, Vancouver is six points out of the fifth and final playoff position in the West. Desperately needing a victory, the Whitecaps will try to win in Seattle for the first time in four MLS meetings (0-2-1).
The Sounders could have their hands full with MVP candidate Camilo, who scored his 17th and 18th goals in a three-minute span late in the second half Sunday to help Vancouver salvage a 2-all draw against Portland.
“Playing like that, (making the playoffs) can be done,” coach Martin Rennie told the team’s official website. “It’s obviously a big ask, but we want to make sure now we focus on (Seattle).”
Camilo, who trails only Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio (19 goals) for the MLS scoring lead, has a pair of two-goal performances in his last three contests. He also had both of the team’s goals in a 3-2 loss at Seattle on June 8.
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