Preview: Red-hot Seattle Sounders take on struggling Vancouver Whitecaps

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Seattle Sounders FC
The Seattle Sounders FC line up for their starting XI portrait before facing the Colorado Rapids this season. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders FC.

Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada (March 29, 2019) — There’s a big difference in the number “three” for the Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps. But, how can there be a difference when it comes to a number?

For one club, there’s a positive to the number. For the other club, there’s a negative connotation. The Seattle Sounders have been red-hot this season, winning their first three matches of the season. Meanwhile, the script is flipped the opposite way for Vancouver, as the Whitecaps have lost their first three matches.

Preview: Red-hot Seattle Sounders take on struggling Vancouver Whitecaps

Marc Dos Santos was hired by the Whitecaps in November 2018 in hopes to turn the tide. Vancouver did not make the MLS Cup playoffs, after making it to the Western Conference semifinals in 2017.

Meanwhile, Seattle has made the playoffs for all 10 years the club has existed.

In the first competition of the Cascadia Cup — that features Seattle, Vancouver and the Portland Timbers — the Sounders will look to continue their hot streak. Right now, they’re the only club left in MLS with an undefeated record.

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders FC
2019 MLS Regular Season
BC Place
March 30, 2019 — 7 p.m. PT/10 p.m. ET
Stream: ESPN+

What to Watch For

Kim Kee-hee vs. Inbeom Hwang

For the first-time ever in MLS history, two South Korean international players will face off against each other. Kim Kee-hee was acquired by the Sounders last year and made an immediate impact, starting 28 of 29 regular-season appearances.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old Inbeom Hwang was acquired this past January by the Whitecaps. Prior to joining the Whitecaps, Hwang spent his career with Daejeon Citizen FC in South Korea, making 88 appearances and scoring 15 goals. The central midfielder also spent time with Asan Mugunghwa FC, where he featured while serving his mandatory two years in the military.

No two players from South Korea have ever faced off against each other. Teammates on the South Korean National Team — Kim has made 23 appearances while Hwang has made 14 appearances — the two will truly be going head-to-head.

Expect a physical battle, but plenty of respect, between the two South Korean players. Kim has been a wall on defense in front of Stefan Frei, but will his fellow countryman sneak past him and Chad Marshall?

The Injury Report

Seattle Sounders FC

For the first time in forever… There’s no one on this list! Henry Wingo is finally off the injury report after dealing with a prolonged left groin injury. The injury sheet is clean and clear for Seattle.

Vancouver Whitecaps

There’s a couple names on here, with all three players named listed as out.

Whitecaps midfielder Michael Baldisimo is out with a left ankle contusion. Meanwhile, defenders Jasser Khmiri and Brett Levis are out. Khmiri is out with a left knee injury while Levis is battling a right hamstring strain.

Last Meeting: September 15, 2018

Raúl Ruidíaz knows his way around a defense.

Specifically, he knows his way around the Vancouver Whitecaps defense. In last year’s later meeting, in September, Ruidíaz scored both goals in Seattle’s 2-1 victory over one of their rivals. In the favor of the Sounders, Kei Kamara scored Vancouver’s lone goal in the contest, and Kamara is now with the Colorado Rapids.

Ruidíaz is currently on a streak of eight consecutive matches with a goal. He can look to make it nine on Saturday evening, propelling Seattle ahead of their northern rivals.

Prediction: Seattle 3, Vancouver 0

This has been an incredibly frustrating season for the Vancouver Whitecaps — and Seattle is going to come into BC Place with the means to make it worse.

Ruidíaz will likely score and after an OK performance with the U.S. Men’s National Team, Jordan Morris will want to find his name on the scoresheet again. Morris struggled mightily against Ecuador, but featured admirably against Chile. Meanwhile, Kelvin Leerdam has been known for sneaking in a few goals this season.

Although I don’t think it will happen, it would be fun to watch Kim score his first Sounders goal against his South Korean teammate.

PHOTO: The Seattle Sounders FC line up for their starting XI portrait before facing the Colorado Rapids this season. Photo courtesy of Mike Fiechtner/Seattle Sounders FC.

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