VANCOUVER, B.C. – Eventually a Whitecaps’ lead was due to stick.
Sounders FC had come back from four deficits against Pacific Northwest rival Vancouver, and earned at least a tie each time it fell behind early the past few years, but that magic dried up Saturday in a 2-0 road loss.
The Whitecaps, led by a career performance by goalkeeper Brad Knighton, hadn’t beaten Seattle in six previous meetings, and broke a 12-game winless streak in the Cascadia Cup, including games against Portland.
The Sounders (7-6-3) have lost their last two road games and missed an opportunity to at least tie the best 16-game record in team history.
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“For sure at 1-0 we felt we could come back — even at (2-0) we felt we were capable of coming back — but all good things come to an end,” said coach Sigi Schmid.
Down 1-0 in the second half, Seattle heaped on heavy pressure — even hitting the post on a deflected cross in the 56th minute — but a goal never came against Knighton, who made a personal-best seven saves.
Vancouver (8-5-5) sealed the win with a 79th-minute goal by speedy forward Darren Mattocks, a second-half substitute, in front of a season-high crowd of 22,500 at BC Place.
The Sounders earned 16 shots but were ultimately shut out for the sixth time this season.
“We had good buildup play, but if you can’t finish it doesn’t matter how good you play,” said midfielder Lamar Neagle.
Midfielder Shalrie Joseph called it “a heartbreaking feeling not being able to get the result that we deserved.”
Schmid felt his team played better in Saturday’s loss than in Wednesday’s 2-0 home win against D.C. United.
“Soccer is a funny game,” he said.
The Whitecaps grabbed the lead in the fourth minute when forward Kenny Miller beat an offside trap and slotted a low shot inside the far post. The early concession was a bad omen for the Sounders, who came into the game 0-5 when allowing the first goal.
That wasn’t reflected in the subsequent play, however.
Seattle swarmed the Whitecaps goal for much of the first half, earning a 10-5 advantage in shots at the break, but chance after chance couldn’t get by Knighton.
The Vancouver goalkeeper was especially good early, stopping a 22nd-minute minute chance by forward Eddie Johnson, then sprawling out on the ensuing corner kick to keep out defender Zach Scott.
The best might have come in the 26th minute, when Knighton enthralled the home fans with back-to-back stops on Johnson and then Obafemi Martins on the follow-up opportunity.
Perhaps Knighton was motivated by Vancouver signing Danish goalkeeper David Ousted two weeks ago.
Asked if Knighton’s performance was the best by an opposing goalkeeper this season, Schmid said, “Yeah, probably … but our finishing needed to be a little bit sharper, then we don’t make the goalkeeper look as good.”
The Sounders had themselves to blame for many of the other misses.
“We have a bunch of chances and they literally have one chance at the beginning and finish it,” said Neagle. “It was just one of those games.”
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.