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Sounders, Whitecaps fight for breathing room in crowded West

Both the Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps clinched MLS playoff berths with victories Wednesday.

But that doesn’t mean Saturday night’s matchup in Seattle between the Cascadia Cup rivals is meaningless.

With only six points separating second-place Seattle (13-9-10, 49 points) and seventh-place Portland, playoff seeding is still in doubt. Vancouver (12-10-10, 46 points) is currently fifth in the West.

The Sounders defeated the visiting Los Angeles Galaxy 2-1 Wednesday, running their unbeaten streak to seven matches (3-0-4), as Cristian Roldan scored the winner in the final minute of second-half stoppage time.

Seattle is returning to the playoffs after missing out in 2022, the only season since it joined MLS in 2009 in which it failed to qualify for the postseason.

“That’s a team win,” Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer said. “I’m happy for the group that we were able to put ourselves in the playoffs, not having us just kind of back our way in, because I think that group deserves every accolade.”

Jordan Morris also scored for Seattle, his team-leading 11th of the season.

“At certain points it wasn’t our best game, but to grind out like that at this point in the season and clinch playoffs is big,” Morris said. “The team doesn’t quit, the team doesn’t give up.”

The Whitecaps clinched their playoff spot and snapped a four-match winless streak with a 3-0 victory Wednesday against visiting St. Louis City SC, which has already captured the Western Conference title. Brian White, Sebastian Berhalter and Richie Laryea scored second-half goals.

White’s goal was his 15th of the season, tied for third in the league behind Los Angeles FC’s Denis Bouanga (17) and FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta (16).

“The big difference (Wednesday) was you could see that we wanted to win from minute one,” Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini. “We were hangry — not hungry — but hangry. Hungry and angry together from those from the last couple of performance and we did well.”

This will be the third meeting of the season between the teams. They split the first two, both played in Vancouver, with the Whitecaps winning 2-0 on May 20 and the Sounders coming away with a 3-2 victory July 8.

The Whitecaps haven’t won in Seattle since 2016, going 0-8-1 over their past nine trips.

–Field Level Media

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