It felt strange. Weird. Foreign, both literally and figuratively. Last night, in the midst of a season where the Whitecaps are leading the Supporters’ Shield race and the Sounders are clinging to a playoff spot, I openly rooted for our neighbors to the north, and I was ecstatic when they won.
Even stranger, this wasn’t a Cascadia rivalry match, where I’d typically rather root for Vancouver than Portland, but not-so-secretly hope for a 0-0 draw.
But between the Vancouver Whitecaps and CD Olimpia, I wanted nothing more than a Cascadia victory, and it’s exactly what we got as they escaped with a 1-0 win, pushing the Honduran side to the bottom of Group F and setting up an MLS showdown.
So what does this mean for the Sounders?
It means that the Sounders now control their own destiny in the CONCACAF Champions League group stage, and even better, can clinch the group in front of a raucous home crowd at CenturyLink Field. The Sounders currently sit on top of the Group F standings, with 4 points out of 3 games played after splitting the series against Olimpia and earning a road draw against Vancouver in early August. The Whitecaps are close behind, however, with 4 points in just 2 games played, both at home. Olimpia sits at the bottom of the table, with 3 points in 3 games, and hoping for a miracle from the two MLS squads to have a shot at advancing.
Based on these standings, a Sounders win on Wednesday would give the Sounders 7 points in the group, and a head-to-head tiebreaker over Vancouver (with a win and a draw on the road), sending them into the next round of play.
A draw, however, would leave the Sounders tied with the Whitecaps atop the group with 5 points in 4 games played, leaving the fate of the group up to the second leg between Vancouver and CD Olimpia, where no result would push the Sounders through.
Sounders will get their next look at the Whitecaps this Saturday in BC Place, with the Cascadia Cup title on the line, which the Sounders can clinch with a win or a draw. My colleague Chris has previewed that match from the Vancouver perspective here. A full three points in that match would give the Sounders a bit of separation in the Western Conference standings, bolstering the playoff chances for the squad.
Advancing in the CONCACAF Champions League against the same time just days later would be icing on the cake.