On Saturday night the Whitecaps hosted the Seattle Sounders for the second time this year. The Whitecaps were desperate to show both their coach and their fans that the poor performances against Montreal and Colorado were just a speed bump. Thanks to a stunning long range goal from Sebastian Fernandez the home team held on for a 1-0 victory over a depleted Sounders roster.
Seattle were without DeAndre Yedlin, Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, and captain Ozzie Alonso who was suspended due to yellow card accumulation but this season’s best MLS team has roster depth that most teams dream about. That roster depth and Vancouver’s poor recent performances had Vancouver fans hoping for at best a tie against their Cascadia rivals. The Whitecaps were missing central defenders Andy O’Brien and captain Jay Demerit.
The first half was full of end to end action and the second half was far from boring but both teams lacked that killer instinct. Vancouver forward Erik Hurtado had a golden opportunity to give the home side a 2-0 lead but his shot was easily stopped by Seattle goalie Stefan Frei.
The Whitecaps were far from great against the Sounders; but after creating very little goal scoring chances against Montreal and Colorado the Caps were finally showing glimpses of their pre-world cup form. The Whitecaps defence has been the weakest part of the team this campaign and many Vancouver fans were holding their breath when it was announced that young central defenders Johnny Leveron and Caryle Mitchell were starting. Mitchell and Leveron are arguably Carl Robinson’s second choice central defenders but they both put in a strong performance and Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted had a relatively quite day at the office.
Vancouver playmaker Pedro Morales was back to his old ways as he dominated the midfield and created chances for his teammates. Defensive midfielders Matias Laba and Gershon Koffie were rock solid as they repeatedly broke up any attack Seattle tried to generate in the center of the pitch. Defender Steven Beitashour returned to the starting lineup and had an instant positive impact for the Whitecaps.
Not only did this win restore some need confidence to a very young Vancouver team, it also put some needed distance between them and the teams who are chasing them in the highly competitive Western Conference. Moreover, the victory over the Sounders means Vancouver has opened up a 5 point lead and a +2 goal differential in this year’s chase for the Cascadia Cup. The Whitecaps now have a week of training before they host Chivas USA.
(image courtesy of AP Photo/The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)