After producing one of the worst games of the entire MLS season, the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps owe the rest of us neutrals more of a show in the second leg. Well, OK, they don’t really owe us a damn thing, but we can hope that this game is actually worth staying up for. The winner goes to the Western Conference final, where they’ll face either the Portland Timbers or the Houston Dynamo.
Location: CenturyLink Field (Seattle, WA)
Kickoff time: 10:30pm Eastern (but kickoff is apparently at 10:48pm, which means that a game that goes to penalties will get very close to ending at 1:00am)
Seattle starting 11:
Don’t be surprised if Nicolas Lodeiro and Harry Shipp actually swap spots from this graphic. It’s a very attack-minded lineup from Brian Schmetzer, while Osvaldo Alonso (who only played 16 minutes in the first leg) isn’t in the 18 at all. Going forward, though, the Sounders have Clint Dempey back, and winger Victor Rodriguez could be a game-changer off the bench.
How they’ll play: After going defensively in the first leg due to being on the road without numerous vital starters, look for Seattle to step out on the front foot. Dempsey and Lodeiro will roam, while Joevin Jones provides width and speed out on the left. Kelvin Leerdam and Nouhou Tolo will bomb forward as the Sounders try to overwhelm VWFC.
Vancouver starting 11:
How they’ll play: Good news! This is a more attack-minded lineup than Carl Robinson’s 10 defensive midfielders plus a goalkeeper from last week. Still, Vancouver will be sitting deep and looking to counter through Yordy Reyna and Cristian Techera, while Fredy Montero and Christian Bolaños add some creativity. I’m mildly surprised to see Nosa Igiebor start over Tony Tchani, and Tchani might not even sub in. If Robinson needs a goal, he has Bernie Ibini-Isea, Alphonso Davies, Nicolas Mezquida, and (sigh) Brek Shea available to call on from the subs’ bench.
Reading material: Here’s Sounder at Heart’s preview, and a piece on how the numbers point to them being likely to advance. Eighty Six Forever did a preview of their own, and pointed out that the stultifying, miserable first leg was exactly what Robinson had planned.
Available TV: Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes
Available streaming: Fox Sports Go, Fox Soccer Match Pass
For information about other countries, check out LiveSoccerTV.com.