For the Vancouver Whitecaps, home hasn’t been where the heart is. Instead, the heart has been on the road.

Of course, we are still in April and the Whitecaps have only played two away games but they won both those games. They were impressive wins over the San Jose Earthquakes and FC Dallas back in March. Vancouver is coming off a four-game homestand in which they won two and lost two. The last game was a frustrating and disappointing loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy who overtook them for first place in the Western Conference.

But like any sports team, the Whitecaps want to have a short memory and focus on their next opponent. Up next is their Cascadia rivals, the Seattle Sounders. On 4/20 of all days, Vancouver will make the short trip down the I-5 and look to catch three points much like the vendors at Pike Place Market catch fish.

The Sounders have been off to a quiet start

Ever since they came into MLS in 2009, the Sounders have been one of the elite teams. They have only missed the playoffs once in their MLS era and that was in 2022.

Heading into this season, MLS.Com experts predicted that Seattle would finish in the top three of the Western Conference. But the Sounders have started the season 1-3-3 with just six points and are 12th in the West. No one could’ve predicted this, not even the biggest Sounders haters.

The Sounders have had trouble scoring this season. They have only scored nine and that is only 21st in MLS. However, according to FotMob, they are sixth in expected goals with 12.0. That is two places ahead of Vancouver who have are eighth. But they have been one of the better defensive teams in MLS with 0.9 expected goals conceded and that puts them fourth.

Seattle’s last game was a dull 0-0 draw in Fresno against FC Dallas. The game before that was a 5-0 blowout over CF Montreal and that was their only win of the season to this point.

Part of the reason why Seattle has struggled out of the gate is because of injuries. Winger Leo Chu, winger and big offseason signing Pedro De La Vega, defender Chad Marshall, midfielder Reed-Baker Whiting and now midfielder Will Bruin are among the players who have been sidelined. But the Whitecaps could face De La Vega on Saturday as Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told the media that he could play a few minutes. Schmetzer also said Chu is 100% available and said Whiting is questionable.

Midfielder Joao Pedro has been recovering from a hip injury and is battling the flu. He has played limited minutes in the last two games and could play against Vancouver.

Players such as Jordan Morris and Raul Ruidiaz haven’t been in the best form and those two are among two of Seattle’s best attackers.

Do the things the Whitecaps are supposed to do

The Whitecaps have not won at Lumen Field since March 19, 2016. That was a 2-1 win and Pedro Morales scored twice from the penalty spot.

Just like in American football, Lumen Field is a tough place to win for any opponent. For the Whitecaps, they are looking to learn from the loss last week against the Galaxy.

“We need to bounce back in terms of results but I would say the performance [against LA Galaxy] was not that bad,” said Vancouver head coach Vanni Sartini to the media on Wednesday. “We paid [for] the mistakes a lot…but we did really well defensively in the first half and with the ball in the second half and just need to be better[and] worked on our structure a lot, both offensively and defensively. Seattle will be a tough game but there is no revolution to do. It’s just keeping on working on what we’ve been doing.”

“The Sounders are a very good team. It’s true they didn’t start very well but they found their rhythm in the last few games. They beat Montreal at home and they tied with Dallas…I think we are facing them in their best period of the season so far. We need to be on top of our game, we know how good they are in having possession and putting a lot of players up top.”

Vancouver’s defensive structure has been solid for most of the season so far. They are one of the top teams in clearances as they average 23.7 clearances per match. That is fourth in MLS. The Whitecaps are also fifth in interceptions per match with 10.

It was falling asleep for a few seconds that led to the Galaxy scoring three past them. It is hard to do it for 90 minutes but the structure must be as sturdy as much possible.

With the structure, the Whitecaps have been one of the most dangerous teams on the counter this season, especially on the road. They also need to continue to be quick on the counter and to try to take the crowd out of it early.

Vancouver has scored first in five of their seven matches and has gone 4-0-1. If they can take the momentum out of the Sounders and their fans early, they could make life difficult for them throughout the game.

Other notes

Don’t expect Fafa Picault to play on Saturday. The Haitian international left the game early against the Galaxy with lower back spams and will not play in Seattle.

It will be tough for the Whitecaps to attack without his speed. With the creativity of Ryan Gauld and Ali Ahmed plus the poaching ability of Brian White, there is no reason why they can’t create offence against the Sounders.

Kickoff is at 7:30 pm.