SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – The kid has done it again.
One year after notching a hat-trick in a historic road win over Seattle, Kekuta Manneh scored in the 45th minute to lead Vancouver Whitecaps FC (11W-8L-13D) to a monumental 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC (19W-10L-3D) Friday night at CenturyLink Field.
The win, which may have been the biggest in the club's MLS history, propelled Whitecaps FC to their second straight Cascadia Cup championship and fifth all time – two more than both Seattle and Portland.
Equally as important, the victory moves Vancouver back into the fifth and final playoff position in the Western Conference, one point up on Portland. Both teams have two matches remaining.
The 'Caps have now won three straight matches for the first time this season. They finish the season with an undefeated 2W-0L-1D record against Seattle, the top team in MLS.
Watch Manneh's game-winning goal in slow motion
Manneh, who left the match at halftime with a quad contusion, stole the headlines once again against Seattle, but the Blue and White put in a heroic defensive performance in what was a heated affair at CenturyLink Field.
Coming into Friday’s match, Seattle hadn’t been kept off the scoresheet in 11 straight fixtures. But the ‘Caps managed to keep the likes of Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins in check en route to David Ousted’s league-leading 11th clean sheet of the season.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson made just one change to his starting lineup after keeping an unchanged squad in back-to-back wins over Real Salt Lake and FC Dallas. With Sebastian Fernandez suspended due to caution accumulation, Manneh made his first start since late August.
With the Cascadia Cup and valuable points on the line for both teams, there was a playoff-like feel to the game from the opening whistle – the announced crowd of 55,765 also had something to do with it. That made for some physical play and resolute defending, but little in the way of scoring opportunities.
Breaking down Friday's match. Click to enlarge.
Seattle controlled 57 per cent of the possession in the first half, but only had a few half chances – thanks to some great defensive work by the likes of Matias Laba, Budweiser Man of the Match Russell Teibert, and the entire back line.
It was a disciplined half from the Blue and White and it paid off in a big way just before the break. Moments after receiving treatment for a kick to the thigh area, Manneh stepped back onto the pitch and put Vancouver on the board.
In the 45th minute, Pedro Morales released Manneh down the left flank before the Gambian broke into the box, cut to his left foot, and slotted it past a sprawling Stefan Frei to give Whitecaps FC a 1-0 lead.
Manneh, still noticeably in discomfort, wasn’t able to continue in the second half, which signalled the MLS debut of 18-year-old Homegrown midfielder Kianz Froese.
Things started to open up a little more after the break with Seattle pushing numbers forward, but Vancouver still managed to shut the door.
In fact, they had one of the better chances of the half in the 49th minute, when Erik Hurtado broke in on the counter only to see his strike from inside the box stopped by Frei.
Seattle’s best chance came in the 76th minute, when Dempsey launched a 22-yard free kick off the wall. They also came close in stoppage time off a second-phase ball, but Kendall Waston headed it off the goalline to secure the all-important three points.
One downside to Friday's historic win was a yellow card picked up by Waston in the 75th minute, which will keep him out of next week’s match at San Jose Earthquakes.
Whitecaps FC return to BC Place on Saturday, October 25, for their regular season finale against Colorado Rapids. Tickets are still available at whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
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Tweet of the Game
Stat of the Game
Centre back Kendall Waston had a game-high 16 clearances on Friday. The next closest player had six.
Quote of the Game
“To say I'm lost for words is an understatement. I'm so proud of every single one of them today. Not many people gave us the opportunity and believed that we would win, but I did, 1,250 fans did, and the group did too, which is the most important thing.” - Carl Robinson
Budweiser Man of the Match: Russell Teibert
Referee: Jair Marrufo
45’ – VAN – Kekuta Manneh (Pedro Morales)
Shots: Seattle 10 – Vancouver 6
Shots on Goal: Seattle 3 – Vancouver 3
Saves: Seattle 2 – Vancouver 3
Fouls: Seattle 14 – Vancouver 16
Offsides: Seattle 0 – Vancouver 0
Corners: Seattle 6 – Vancouver 2
41’ – SEA – Leo Gonzalez
64’ – SEA – Clint Dempsey
75’ – VAN – Kendall Waston
85’ – VAN – Matias Laba
Seattle Sounders FC
24.Stefan Frei; 3.Brad Evans, 14.Chad Marshall, 4.Jalil Anibaba (5.Andy Rose 82’), 12.Leo Gonzalez; 10.Marco Pappa (19.Chad Barrett 62’), 42.Michael Azira (8.Gonzalo Pineda 65’), 6.Osvaldo Alonso, 27.Lamar Neagle; 2.Clint Dempsey, 9.Obafemi Martins
Substitutes not used:
1. Marcus Hahnemann, 18.Djimi Traore, 20.Zach Scott, 33.Kenny Cooper
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 33.Steven Beitashour, 40.Andy O’Brien, 4.Kendall Waston, 2.Jordan Harvey; 15.Matías Laba, 31.Russell Teibert; 30.Mauro Rosales (8.Mehdi Ballouchy 71’), 77.Pedro Morales (29.Nicolas Mezquida 81’), 23.Kekuta Manneh (38.Kianz Froese 45’); 19.Erik Hurtado
Substitutes not used
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 3.Sam Adekugbe, 16.Johnny Leveron, 27.Ethen Sampson