Seattle Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer hailed his team’s 3-0 win over Austin FC as “a step forward” ahead of a huge Cascadia Cup clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Seattle travel across the border to face the Whitecaps on Saturday with their playoff hopes still intact, albeit only just.

They have four games remaining in the regular season and, as it stands, are four points adrift of a playoff place, while Vancouver are just two points behind them.

“It was a step forward,” Schmetzer said after the win over Austin, who proved their quality by bouncing back and thrashing Real Salt Lake in midweek.

“I think, look, even when we were losing games, finding ways to lose games, I thought there were moments in all of those games where we played some good soccer. But we just had mental lapses, we had some goals that we gave up that we shouldn’t have given up. There were some good moments even when we were losing games.

“I think the team’s in a good run of form. I think that they believe that they can do this. That’s a credit to them.”

Vancouver striker Brian White, meanwhile, is anticipating a thrilling rivalry match with plenty on the line.

He said: “Obviously it’s a big game, it always is when we play the Sounders. We’re still fighting for our lives to make the playoffs and they are too so there’s a lot on the line. We’ll put all our energy into the game and get into the zone.

“If you look at their team, historically in the past 10 years or so they’ve been one of the best teams in MLS, great players. It’s important to us to know about the weapons they have going forward.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Vancouver Whitecaps – Tosaint Ricketts

Tosaint Ricketts came off the bench to add Vancouver’s third goal in their win over the LA Galaxy on Wednesday. The goal was Ricketts’ third off the bench this season as only Pedro Morales (four) in 2015 has more goals as a sub in a single season in Whitecaps history.

Seattle Sounders – Raul Ruidiaz

Raul Ruidiaz has scored eight goals in eight games against Vancouver in his MLS career. Only Chris Wondolowski (14) and Maxi Urruti (nine) have scored more goals against the Whitecaps in MLS.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Including playoffs, Seattle has not lost any of its last 15 MLS matches against Vancouver (W10 D5) dating back to August 2017.

– The 15-match unbeaten run is the second-longest by one team against another in MLS history, with the New England Revolution going 16 straight without a loss against the New York Red Bulls from 2005 to 2010.

– The Whitecaps beat the Galaxy, 3-0, on Wednesday, just the second time all season they scored three times in a match (also May 14 vs. San Jose in a 3-3 draw). It was the largest margin of victory for the Whitecaps in nearly a year, since a 3-0 win over San Jose in October 2021.

– The Sounders have won consecutive matches for the first time since May-June after a 3-0 win over Austin on Saturday.

– Seattle has not won three straight games this season, something they’ve achieved at least once in each of their first 13 MLS seasons.