VANCOUVER, BC - In the first Cascadia Cup match of the season, Vancouver Whitecaps FC (5W-3L-3D) were held to a 2-2 home draw by Pacific Northwest rivals Seattle Sounders FC (7W-2L-2D) on Saturday afternoon.
In what was a great advert for Major League Soccer, these two Interstate 5 rivals raised the curtain on the fan-based Cascadia Cup competition with a thrilling four-goal stalemate, though Whitecaps FC will be disappointed to lose two points after this 114th all-time meeting between Vancouver and Seattle. While Alain Rochat and Camilo Sanvezzo scored for the home side, Seattle earned an away point after second-half strikes from Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero.
“It was an exciting game for the fans, as both teams put a lot into the game,” said Whitecaps FC head coach Martin Rennie. “For us, it was one of the best performances of the season. We showed a lot of passion, hunger, and quality at times, but it’s a bit disappointing not to come out with a win. We probably had three one-on-one chances and didn’t hit the target and that’s disappointing at this level because that makes a big difference to the game. This afternoon was a day to see how far we’ve come so far, especially against one of the league’s top teams.”
Saturday was the sixth match of eight for Whitecaps FC this month, and Rennie promptly made changes in a bid to keep his squad as fresh as possible through this very busy spell. The Scotsman made four changes from the starting XI that faced Toronto FC in the Amway Canadian Championship final, first leg, on Wednesday night, with youngster Darren Mattocks making first Whitecaps FC start in a 4-3-3 formation.
Bright sunshine and an open BC Place roof contributed to the enjoyment of the game, with Whitecaps FC putting in a fine first-half display in front of a sold-out crowd of 21,000 on Bell Pitch at BC Place. Mattocks and Omar Salgado looked particularly dangerous in the early stages, with Salgado forcing Sounders FC goalkeeper Bryan Meredith into an important save from the youngster’s breakaway on eight minutes.
It was a sign of things to come. On 12 minutes, Whitecaps FC stunned their Interstate 5 rivals by taking the lead through the impressive Rochat. Jay DeMerit started the play with a pass to Salgado, who then played a fine ball into the path of the Swiss international down the left flank. Rochat made an unattended run into the Seattle box before finishing left-footed past Meredith to make it 1-0. It was Rochat’s first goal of the season.
The opening goal was a well-merited reward for the way Vancouver started Saturday’s derby contest, and the ‘Caps could have extended their lead before the break. Rochat was in on a pair of fine Vancouver chances, but Salgado and Mattocks were unlucky not to hit the target after being supplied by their left fullback on 33 and 41 minutes respectively.
One of the most in-form sides during the first third of the MLS season, Seattle struggled to get into the match in the first half, despite Johnson having their best chance before the break with a volley that rolled across the face of the Whitecaps FC goal. Vancouver took a one-goal lead into halftime.
Having created chances in the first half, the second half could have seen the ‘Caps take command after Mattocks turned Sounders FC centre back Jeff Parke and dash towards goal on 46 minutes. The speedy Jamaican, however, struck his shot over the crossbar.
Vancouver would rue that missed opportunity, as Seattle quickly drew level and reshaped the course of this derby contest. On 47 minutes, Mauro Rosales was able to get free on the right flank with possession before playing in a fine cross that Johnson headed home for 1-1.
The equalizer swung momentum in favour of Seattle, and it was Whitecaps FC goalkeeper Joe Cannon that came up big with two vital saves from a Montero shot and header – both at close range - to keep the score level. Cannon also had to deny the dangerous Colombian with another good save on 57 minutes.
Now a well-poised contest, the match ebbed and flowed, with Mattocks and his substitute Eric Hassli going close to restoring Vancouver’s lead around the midway point of the second half. On 78 minutes, Hassli nearly duplicated his spectacular volley from midweek after Gershon Koffie picked him out in the Seattle box, but the Frenchman struck his effort wide.
In the final stages, Camilo entered the match in a bid to make an impact, and the Brazilian duly obliged on 82 minutes. His free kick into the Sounders FC box eluded everyone and Meredith before nestling in the far corner of the goal to make it 2-1 to Whitecaps FC. It was the South American’s third goal of the season.
With time winding down, there was belief that a first Cascadia Cup victory in the MLS era would arrive for Vancouver. Montero, however, had other ideas in the 90th minute. Johnson flicked Meredith’s long clearance into the Colombian’s path on the edge of the Vancouver box. Montero then curled a fine finish past Cannon to earn Seattle a draw and maintain their unbeaten start to the season on the road (2W-0L-2D).
Whitecaps FC make another quick turnaround and prepare for the decisive second leg of this year’s Amway Canadian Championship final at Toronto FC on Wednesday night, with the series level at 1-1 on aggregate. Seattle also have a short turnaround this week, as they host Eastern Conference club Columbus Crew on Wednesday evening.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Alain Rochat
12’ - VAN – Alain Rochat (Omar Salgado, Jay DeMerit)
47’ - SEA – Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero)
82’ - VAN – Camilo Sanvezzo
90’ - SEA – Fredy Montero (Eddie Johnson)
Shots: Vancouver 11 – Seattle 11
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 2 – Seattle 5
Saves: Vancouver 3 - Seattle 0
Fouls: Vancouver 10 – Seattle 13
Offsides: Vancouver 2 – Seattle 0
Corners: Vancouver 2 – Seattle 6
84’ – VAN – Gershon Koffie
90+3’ – VAN – Camilo Sanvezzo
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.Joe Cannon; 12.Young-Pyo Lee, 15.Martin Bonjour, 6.Jay DeMerit, 4.Alain Rochat; 28.Gershon Koffie, 27.Jun Marques Davidson, 20.Davide Chiumiento (37.Camilo Sanvezzo 80’); 7.Sebastien Le Toux, 22.Darren Mattocks (29.Eric Hassli 64’), 17.Omar Salgado (11.John Thorrington 74’)
Substitutes not used: 18.Brad Knighton, 3.Jordan Harvey, 8.Etienne Barbara, 16.Matt Watson
Seattle Sounders FC
35.Bryan Meredith; 5.Adam Johansson, 31.Jeff Parke, 34.Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, 8.Marc Burch (20.Zach Scott 85’); 10.Mauro Rosales, 6.Osvaldo Alonso, 27.Alex Caskey (25.Andy Rose 45’), 15.Alvaro Fernandez (16.David Estrada 72’); 17.Fredy Montero, 7.Eddie Johnson
Substitutes not used: 33.Andrew Weber, 21.Cordell Cato, 24.Roger Levesque, 26.Sammy Ochoa