The Seattle Sounders will likely still be without Clint Dempsey as they visit the Vancouver Whitecaps in Saturday night's Cascadia Cup matchup.
They might have more than enough firepower regardless, especially if Vancouver's offensive lull continues.
The Sounders (11-3-2) lead the race for the Supporters' Shield with 35 points and have lost just once in eight road matches. They've won three straight overall in league play and are 9-1-1 since April 12, including a 4-0-1 mark without Dempsey and defender DeAndre Yedlin, who both helped the U.S. reach the round of 16 in the World Cup in Brazil.
Though their run ended with Tuesday's loss in extra time to Belgium, coach Sigi Schmid told the league's official website the duo are unlikely to play Saturday.
"(The World Cup) is a physically demanding tournament, but it's also a mentally very demanding situation – you need a break," Schmid said. "I think when people push (players) back too early it's not good."
Forward Chad Barrett has seized the opportunity left by Dempsey's absence, scoring three goals in his first four starts of the season. He recorded the lone goal in Saturday's 1-0 victory at D.C.
Seattle will also see the return of Obafemi Martins after a red-card suspension. Martins' eight goals are tied with Dempsey for the club lead.
Vancouver (5-3-7) has won just once in its last five matches, though last Saturday's 2-0 loss at Colorado snapped the team's franchise-record eight-game unbeaten streak. It marked the second straight match in which the Whitecaps were shut out.
They have never been blanked three straight times.
"We're on offensively for the majority of the games, but when we lose the ball it's when we really need to switch on and win it back," defender Jordan Harvey told the team's official website. "We kind of went away from that the last two games and we're trying to get back to it."
The Whitecaps currently lead the Cascadia Cup with four points from two matches, while Seattle has two from draws against both Vancouver and Portland. This is the first of three consecutive games against Cascadia Cup foes for the Sounders, who host Portland in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal matchup Wednesday before facing the Timbers again in league play on July 13.
"It's definitely going to be a test. We're going to have to show the character we've shown before. I think all the guys realize that and know that it's going to be an important month for us," midfielder Lamar Neagle told the Sounders' official website. "We're ready to get back into it, as we've shown. I don't think we've let up. We're still getting results and we've shown a lot of character. This is going to be a great test for us."
Vancouver had won two straight against Seattle prior to the teams' 2-all draw on May 24.
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- Clint Dempsey
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