VANCOUVER, B.C. – This wasn’t the way the Vancouver Whitecaps wanted to end things at Empire Field.
They lost 3-1 to the Seattle Sounders to bring the curtain down. The fact that the loss meant their arch-rivals took home the Cascadia Cup in front of a sold-out crowd poured more than a little salt in the wound as well.
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“We’re very disappointed,” interim head coach Tom Soehn told MLSsoccer.com following Saturday’s match. “I said before this game, this was more than just a game.
“There was so much more at stake with the rivalry we have with Seattle, but as far as our fans watching today, they were fantastic, seeing us off at Empire Field – we wanted to send them something to take home, but we let it slip today.”
Things looked promising in the early going after Camilo Sanvezzo finished a nice piece of interplay in the 22nd minute to put the Whitecaps 1-0 up.
But the lead was short lived, as just over 10 minutes later Jay DeMerit’s handball while attempting to block an Alvaro Fernandez shot led to a penalty kick. DeMerit threw an arm up to shield his face, and referee Jair Marrufo pointed to the spot without hesitating.
That penalty was converted by Brad Evans for the equalizing 1-1 goal. DeMerit also had the misfortune of being involved in both of Montero’s goals, as his attempted clearance fell to the Colombian for Seattle’s second goal of the match, and his attempted block for the Sounders final goal ended up putting an awkward deflection on the ball which gave Joe Cannon no chance.
“Those types of things happen,” DeMerit explained. “It’s always disappointing when a ball deflects off your foot or you dive in to save a goal and it goes off your hand, but unfortunately those things are part of the game and sometimes things you can’t control.
“The things you can control happen for most of the game, we didn’t [take care of].”
One of those things the Whitecaps had a chance to take care of but didn’t was finishing, as the team pushed in the second half with a number of promising chances from Eric Hassli and Mustapha Jarju coming to nothing.
“In the end, those guys had opportunities and you expect those guys to finish those,” Soehn said. “After the half, Eric did a much better job of holding the ball for us, but ultimately we created opportunities but just didn’t bury them.”
Jarju made his first start in just under a month and got himself in a number of excellent scoring positions, but the finish just wasn’t there when it mattered.
“My running and my sharpness is coming back, but I was disappointed to get those couple of chances and not put it in the net,” Jarju said. “It’s very difficult, because normally when I get those chances I always put it in the back of the net, but sometimes it happens in football, maybe today is not my day.
“Hopefully I can get a couple of goals before the end of the season.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com. Follow him on Twitter: @martinmacmahon