In addition to any Canadian candy bars the team may have purchased on its trip north (Coffee Crisp is my personal favorite), the Sounders should also have declared themselves fortunate when talking to border guards on the trip home following their 2-2 draw with the Whitecaps at BC Place.
Because it could easily have been another blowout on par with the recent 5-0 loss to the New England Revolution.
Vancouver forward Erik Hurtado posted a Sportscenter clip on his Instagram that sums up what the Whitecaps were able to do to the Sounders’ makeshift defense all game long. Faking out Ozzie Alonso and luring him into a collision with Djimi Traore – it looked so easy.
To be fair, the Sounders were missing a host of important pieces – Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin were gone for national team duty. Brad Evans started the game on the bench, having just returned from camp. Lamar Neagle had a sore knee. Chad Marshall was sick, perhaps from an early morning stop at Tim Horton’s.
It was Yedlin and Marshall whose absences were sorely felt, especially in the opening minutes, as the Whitecaps pelted the goal with shot after shot. But it wasn’t just the patchwork back line of Jalil Anibaba, Zach Scott, Djimi Traore and Leo Gonzalez that got off to a slow start – the midfield was slow out of the gate as well.
The result was a Vancouver assault that somehow failed to net a goal in the early moments, thanks mostly to the crossbar and a lot of luck. Honestly, how they didn’t score at least three before half is beyond me.
In fact, it was the Sounders who scored first, with Neagle’s midfield replacement, Chad Barrett continuing his knack for finding the net with a header from Kenny Cooper in the 36th minute. At that point you had to wonder if this was going to be one of those strange matches that results in a victory despite being outplayed rather handily.
That wasn’t to be the case, though, as the aforementioned Hurtado juke tied the match minutes later.
The two remaining goals offer some interesting discussion points.
In the 66th minute, Vancouver midfielder Gershon Koffie had a long-range attempt at an empty net thanks to another Frei brain fart (that’s a technical soccer term). Ranging all the way into the corner to clear a ball, Frei instead sent it straight to Koffie in the center of the pitch, leaving himself no time to recover. All he could do was watch the ball sail into the goal.
(Sidenote: If my Canadian friends aren’t referring to Gershon as “Koffie Krisp,” you are missing out on an excellent nickname opportunity.)
Frei is, for now, the team’s No. 1 keeper, and he probably should stay in that position. But on days like this, it’s hard not to look over at Marcus Hahnemann on the bench and wonder if a change shouldn’t be made.
Like his predecessor Michael Gspurning, Frei is capable of moments of greatness. In fact, he would later save the road point on a rather fantastic save. But also like Gspurning, he has a proclivity toward coming off his line at inopportune times and yielding mistakes that make a guy want to chug a pitcher of Kokanee (another fine Canadian product).
Really, all the Sounders did in the offseason at goal was find a cheaper Gspurning. That’s fine, I guess. But it’s not a long-term solution.
The other talking point: The penalty kick awarded after Jay Demerit scaled the back of Cam Weaver in the box. As many on Twitter have pointed out, the Sounders’ Facebook page offers this photo of the incident in question.
That’s probably a penalty. This being MLS, it’s also something that’s often not called. Regardless, it led to an absolutely beautiful chip by Gonzalo Pineda that served as the game’s final goal.
A 2-2 draw on the road against a ‘Caps team that has looked damn good all season long. That’s a perfectly acceptable result, and sets up a battle for the top of the table next weekend at home against Real Salt Lake.
Please, Chad Marshall, don’t call in sick for that one.
(image courtesy of Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA Today Sports)