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May 17, 2024 10:10 pm

Skidding Whitecaps in search of quality vs. rival Sounders

Ryan Gauld

The Vancouver Whitecaps opened the month of May vying for first place in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference.

But Vancouver (5-4-3, 18 points) has failed to score a goal in three matches this month and has dropped into seventh entering its Cascadia Cup clash Saturday at the Seattle Sounders (3-6-4, 13 points).

“What’s different from the first few games is the ratio of realization is a little down because the chances are still there,” said Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini, whose team is 0-2-2 over its past four matches. “The quality (in the final third of the field) will be back very soon, hopefully (Saturday).”

The Whitecaps are winless in MLS play since a 2-0 victory at Seattle on April 20, when the Sounders finished with nine players because of a pair of red cards. Ryan Gauld and Brian White scored in the second half, giving the Whitecaps their first victory at Seattle since 2016.

“We know what the atmosphere is going to be like,” Whitecaps midfielder Ryan Raposo. “They were unlucky to go down to nine men, so it wasn’t a real match. They’re going to want that back.”

Both teams lost midweek matches on the road.

Vancouver had a 1-0 defeat at Colorado as defender Bjorn Inge Utvik received a red card in first-half stoppage time for handling the ball in the penalty area. The Rapids converted the ensuing penalty kick for the lone goal.

Seattle dropped a 2-0 decision at conference-leading Real Salt Lake as leading scorer Raul Ruidiaz (toe) did not play. Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said he expects Ruidiaz back Saturday.

The Sounders, who won 2-1 at rival Portland last Sunday, also were without defender Nouhou Tolo (yellow-card accumulation) and midfielder Obed Vargas (calf), with winger Leo Chu (adductor) subbed off in the 21st minute.

“It was a tough match,” Sounders midfielder Danny Leyva said. “Coming from a match like a win against Portland, which was a hard game to play, that gave us a lot of confidence and a lot of motivation.

“When you come to a match like this with new players, we knew everybody on the roster needed to be ready. … We didn’t (win), so the message to the team is to keep working hard and try to get the results.”

–Field Level Media

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