Recap: Sounders tie Whitecaps 0-0 to clinch playoff berth
VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Seattle Sounders clinched their fourth straight playoff berth and the Vancouver Whitecaps kept their postseason hopes alive after a 0-0 draw between the Cascadia rivals at sold-out BC Place on Saturday night.
Both sides came close to dramatic late winners. Vancouver substitute Camilo nearly hit the back of the net on a diagonal strike in stoppage time, while only a goal-line clearance from Whitecaps defender Lee Young-Pyo kept Seattle's Jeff Parke off the board with just more than 10 minutes left to play.
Things started with a first half in which the Sounders had the better of possession, holding the ball nearly 57 percent of the time. And it was Seattle midfield general Osvaldo Alonso who had the first real opportunity of the game, firing a low, hard shot wide to the left of Whitecaps goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
Three minutes later, Seattle once again looked dangerous, countering from a corner, with Mauro Rosales crossing to Brad Evans. However, the midfielder couldn’t get enough contact at full stretch, deflecting it well wide of the target.
At the half-hour mark, Vancouver looked to have a sure scoring opportunity as midfielder Gershon Koffie beat a pair of Sounders in midfield before sliding forward Darren Mattocks through on goal, only for Parke's sliding tackle to thwart the chance.
The first half was marred by a pair of hamstring strains to Vancouver players, as both John Thorrington and Mattocks were forced off and replaced by Matt Watson and Camilo, respectively.
Despite the changes, Vancouver had a more promising start to the second half. Just three minutes in, midfielder Alain Rochat hammered a swerving shot from long range which Seattle goalkeeper Michael Gspuring had a lot of trouble with, punching the knuckling effort wide.
But the teams left their best looks at goal for late in the match, exchanging a series of dangerous opportunities which began with Lee's 79th-minute goal-line clearance on a Seattle corner kick.
OPTA Chalkboard: Whitecaps forced into early changes
Then three minutes from time, Whitecaps designated player Barry Robson passed off to compatriot Kenny Miller in the area, but the forward could only side foot his shot weakly wide of the target under pressure.
In the 89th minute, Sounders substitute Steve Zakuani got a shot off from the top of the area, which appeared to take a deflection, forcing Knighton into a fine reflex save at full stretch.
Finally, Camilo missed a shot by inches with the match’s final kick in stoppage time, narrowly firing wide left after Miller found him all alone in the area with a flicked header.
The Whitecaps (10-12-9, 39 points) next prepare for a midweek clash against Chivas USA at BC Place. The Sounders (13-7-10, 49 points) play another regional rival when they host the Portland Timbers on Oct. 7 at CenturyLink Field for the right to hoist the Cascadia Cup.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Gershon Koffie (VAN)||This is the type of overall performance that Martin Rennie has surely dreamed of from Koffie. Strong presence in midfield with usual tenacity, but also effective in more than one attacking build-up.|
|2||Jeff Parke (SEA)||Facing one of the toughest challenges of his season against speedy, elusive and crafty strikers, Parke held his own and made more than one big play. Also, he almost scored on the other end on a set piece.|
|3||Brad Knighton (VAN)||The Whitecaps 'keeper continued his good run of form, making difficult saves look routine and coming through with stops at key moments of the match.|