VANCOUVER, B.C. — All the Vancouver Whitecaps needed was 12 minutes on Saturday to muster all the offense they would need in a 1-0 win against Sounders FC.
For the Sounders, it was their first loss since May 11, a stretch of seven matches. The team had gone 4-0-1 in MLS games during that stretch, including a 2-2 tie at Vancouver on May 24 in the teams’ previous matchup. Seattle had also won two U.S. Open Cup games during that time.
With the win, in front of 22,500 at BC Place, the Whitecaps retained their lead in the Cascadia Cup standings with seven points and a 2-0-1 record. Seattle remains second with two points and an 0-1-2 mark.
Vancouver (6-3-7) established the pace early. In the 12th minute, Pedro Morales sent a cross to the middle of the field, where Sebastian Fernandez sent the ball flying into the back of the net from about 30 yards out.
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“They end up scoring a great goal,” Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. “The guy hits a great shot. We had some opportunities. They had some. … We were around but we didn’t put shots accurately enough on goal.”
Seattle (11-4-2) struggled maintaining possession as Vancouver set a frenetic pace with its young front line.
“I think the (Whitecaps) were hungry,” said Sounders captain Brad Evans. “It took us a little while to get in the game. All it was in the first half was not holding the ball up front. … It was a difficult day for us in the first 35, 40 minutes.”
The Whitecaps pressured the ball early against the Sounders, who were missing striker Obafemi Martins (hamstring) and midfielders Gonzalo Pineda and Osvaldo Alonso (yellow card accumulation).
Those absences caused the Sounders to sub in Cam Weaver, who has played limited minutes this year, and Tristan Bowen, who made his debut on Saturday.
“It doesn’t matter who’s missing,” Schmid said. “We had enough quality on the field to get a result and to play.”
Although the Sounders got stronger with the ball after settling in, Vancouver still won 57.9 percent of the first-half duels.
Four of the Whitecaps’ eight shots in the first half were on target, while just one of Seattle’s seven was on goal.
“In the first half we gave the ball away a little bit too easily,” Schmid said. “In the second half, we started getting better looks, better chances, got around the goal. But at the end it wasn’t enough.”
Seattle had 14 shots (two on goal), compared to Vancouver’s 13 (six on goal). Marco Pappa finished with four for Seattle, as did Vancouver’s Erik Hurtado.
The Sounders are back in action Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. for the first of two matches in five days against the Portland Timbers. Wednesday’s game will be a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match, with Sunday’s 7 p.m. showdown an MLS match.
Both games will be played in Seattle.
|Seattle has three matches left in the battle for the title in the competition among the Northwest rivals.|