Andreas Ivanschitz scored his first Major League Soccer goal, Gonzalo Pineda netted his first of the season and Obafemi Martins added a late dagger off Clint Dempsey's assist as the Sounders topped the Whitecaps 3-0 at BC Place.
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Andreas Ivanschitz scored his first Major League Soccer goal, Gonzalo Pineda netted his first of the season and Obafemi Martins added a late dagger off Clint Dempsey’s assist as the Sounders topped the Whitecaps 3-0 at BC Place. With the win, Seattle clinched its first Cascadia Cup since 2011.
These are my first impressions:
– Ivanschitz is making up for lost time.
Of all of the signings during Seattle’s summer shopping spree, the Austrian midfielder had the potential to make the most immediate impact, Sounders general manager Garth Lagerwey predicted at the time.
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And though it may have taken longer than the GM would have liked, Ivanschitz is finally starting to lend legitimacy to his prediction.
Ivanschitz suffered through a rough summer, first training on his own to stay sharp and getting injured almost as soon as he’d arrived in Seattle. Limited by first a quad injury then muscle tightness, Ivanschitz didn’t even make his MLS debut until last weekend in San Jose.
Finally healthy, Ivanschitz hasn’t wasted any time making a difference for his new club.
Against the Earthquakes, his sharply driven corner kick helped set up Martins’ all-important equalizer as the Sounders kept pace with a fellow playoff contender.
On Saturday afternoon at BC Place, Ivanschitz did the scoring himself, controlling a pinpoint Martins feed and firing past David Ousted just before halftime to open the scoring.
– With these teams, it’s always a chess match.
Vancouver likes to sit back, lull teams into a false sense of security then bite them on the counterattack. That strategy has paid dividends: Despite averaging one of the lowest possession totals in MLS, the Whitecaps entered the weekend in first place in the Supporters’ Shield standings.
But when opponents hesitate to commit numbers, wary of giving the ‘Caps too much space, their games get stagnate.
The Sounders didn’t really need to press. Sigi Schmid’s blueprint for playoff qualification involves simply winning their home games and earning draws on the road, and Seattle needed only a point to take back the Cascadia Cup.
So after a promising start, Saturday’s match was mostly cagy. That’s not however, and in contrast to last weekend’s slog in San Jose, the same thing as boring.
This was a tactical battle, two teams who know each other well gently applying pressure points. Vancouver can hit you with very little windup, and Octavio Rivero’s pair of first-half chances hinted at the Whitecap threat.
The knowledge that the game could change in an instant kept things on edge — at least until Seattle blew the game open late and sent home fans streaming towards the exits in clusters.
– Pineda’s patience paid off.
The veteran has cut a frustrated figure for much of this year, dogged by injuries and seemingly skipped on the depth chart by Erik Friberg, another new signing.
But with Friberg out of Saturday’s match with an unspecified injury suffered in practice, Pineda had his chance. And even if the former Mexican international wasn’t at his pass-pinging best all night, Pineda took his opportunity when it arrived 20 minutes from time.
Vancouver barraged Seattle’s goal for the first chunk of the second half, but a smooth passing sequence and a connection with Dempsey ended with Pineda over the ball atop the Whitecaps box. Pineda took a touch, feigned a shot, considered his options. Then he blasted a shot off the inside of the left post and into the back of the net.
– What would a Sounders game be without a few injury scares?
Seattle midfielder Osvaldo Alonso shrugged off the stretcher after landing awkwardly with 10 minutes to go in the game, but continued to point at his leg while limping off and was replaced by Leo Gonzalez with six minutes remaining.
Dempsey was hit from behind by a heavy tackle from Kendall Waston a few moments after Alonso’s injury, sparking shoving amongst players and drawing boos from the home crowd that saw it was time wasting.
Brad Evans appeared to be complaining about a hamstring after his substitution midway through the second half, and any clarification from Schmid will be updated afterward.