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Sounders-Whitecaps FC Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The first season of the MLS rivalry between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders FC produced plenty of drama with eight goals in two matches.
This season, all of the league's Cascadia teams will meet three times.
The Cascadia competition begins to earn bragging rights in the Pacific Northwest on Saturday when the Sounders travel to face the Whitecaps.
Seattle (7-2-1), Vancouver (5-3-2) and Portland are all vying for the Cascadia Cup, with the Sounders earning the inaugural trophy last season by going 2-0-2 against the other two clubs. Fredy Montero scored twice in a 3-1 victory at Vancouver on Sept. 24 that clinched a playoff berth for Seattle as well as the Cup.
"I enjoy when I score a goal away and the fans are really crazy," Montero told the Sounders' official website. "Hopefully we can do that in this game, too."
These rivals also played to a 2-2 draw in Seattle on June 11 as Eric Hassli scored twice for the Whitecaps.
Both teams are looking to get back to their winning ways after having streaks snapped last Saturday. Seattle's five-game run ended with a 1-0 home defeat to Real Salt Lake while Vancouver's three-game streak was snapped with a 4-1 loss at New England.
The Whitecaps are 3-1-1 at home and eager to measure themselves against their rivals to the south.
"I think any time you play Seattle, it's always a good test to see where you are as a team," defender Jay DeMerit said. "They've always been pretty consistent as a group for many years. They are a marking point."
Hassli and former Sounders forward Sebastien Le Toux have combined for five goals for Vancouver, but should be in for a challenge Saturday.
Seattle owns the league's best defense, having allowed four goals. The Sounders' shutout streak ended at 321 minutes when Brian Meredith allowed a goal in the 51st minute last week.
Meredith's streak ended at 275 minutes with two shutouts in place of Michael Gspurning, out with a hip injury. Gspurning is expected to miss Saturday's game as well.
Australian rookie midfielder Andy Rose got his third straight start since joining the Sounders. Zach Scott is eligible to return after serving a suspension last week.
The Seattle-Vancouver soccer rivalry includes 125 meetings dating to the USL days, and this edition features a subplot between the coaches.
The Sounders' Sigi Schmid was a mentor to first-year Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie when Schmid coached at Columbus from 2006-08 and Rennie was coaching the Cleveland City Stars of the USL from 2007-08.
Schmid's son, Kyle, played last season for Rennie's Carolina RailHawks.
"It's exciting for me coaching against Sigi Schmid for the first time since I was in Cleveland a long time ago," the Scottish-born Rennie said. "He's been someone who's helped me a lot over the years since I have been in the U.S."
Updated May 18, 2012