VANCOUVER, B.C. – Fredy Montero scored a brace to help the Seattle Sounders to their third-ever Cascadia Cup championship, and he did it on enemy soil, away to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday night in a 3-1 win.
The loss was a blow for the Whitecaps, who hoped to end their time at Empire Field on a positive note before moving to BC Place next weekend.
In the 63rd minute Montero scored a fantastic individual goal, controlling a poor Jay DeMerit clearance before taking a clever touch to fool his marker. The Colombian then finished with aplomb, firing into the top left corner to put Seattle 2-1 up.
Four minutes later, Montero once again gave the traveling supporters reason to cheer. The 24-year-old struck a shot from well out which took a slight deflection off DeMerit, then dipped just over ‘keeper Joe Cannon and into the goal to put the Sounders into a 3-1 lead.
But it was actually the Whitecaps who set the tone of the match, making a series of crunching tackles and forcing some great saves out of Seattle ‘keeper Kasey Keller.
In the 18th minute Keller showed his grit by punching a ball out and colliding with Michael Boxall hard while clearing a corner. Davide Chiumiento eventually got the ball back into the box and Boxall once again was thwarted by Keller, this time one on one, as the veteran ‘keeper got down very well to stop what should have been a sure goal.
Four minutes later the ‘Caps broke through as Camilo finished off a wonderful piece of interplay to fire the home team into the lead 1-0. Eric Hassli’s no-look through ball found Chiumiento, who just managed to dodge the offside trap before cutting back a simple ball for Camilo to tap past Keller from close range.
In the 25th minute Mustapha Jarju nearly made it 2-0, as Pete Vagenas showed his guile by hitting a penetrating ball to send the Gambian through on goal. The angle proved too acute for the striker, who dragged his shot wide to Keller’s left.
That’s around the time when Seattle woke up, and it wasn’t long until they were able to knot the game at 1-1. In the 32nd minute the Sounders launched a counterattack, and with the ‘Caps outmanned at the back, Alvaro Fernandez found himself with a clear shot on goal in the 18-yard box. DeMerit slid to block the shot, but referee Jair Marrufo deemed the skipper handled in the box, and pointed to the spot.
Brad Evans stepped up to take the kick and coolly sent Cannon the wrong way, making it 1-1.
Just after the break, the Sounders had a pair of good chances to take the lead. First, Osvaldo Alonso hit a low shot that forced Cannon into a save in the 46th minute, and then Lamar Neagle cracked a long range shot off the crossbar.
Jarju also came close during the opening minutes of the second half, first getting the ball caught in his feet after finding himself through on goal, and then about a minute later he could only manage a weak shot on Keller after a nice piece of buildup play.
Seattle looked as if they’d jump into the lead in the 56th minute when Nate Jaqua got on the end of a Fernandez cross, but the forward skimmed the ball past Cannon’s left post.
That set the stage for Montero’s heroics. The Colombian ended up producing his second multi-goal game of the season and became the Sounders scoring leader in the process, taking his season tally to nine.
With the win, the Sounders’ record now stands at 15-6-9, for 54 points on the season. Friday night’s 1-1 draw between Sporting Kansas City and the Philadelphia Union clinched their spot for the 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Seattle’s next match takes place on Tuesday, as their CONCACAF Champions League adventure continues against Comunicaciones in Guatemala.
The Whitecaps, for their part, fall to 4-15-10, for 22 points on the season. The result means they are now mathematically eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoff picture.
Next weekend they’ll take on the Portland Timbers in the final match of this season’s Cascadia Cup as the new BC Place Stadium sees its first MLS action.
VAN -- Camilo 9 (Davide Chiumiento 9, Eric Hassli 2) 22
SEA -- Brad Evans 5 (penalty kick) 33
SEA -- Fredy Montero 8 (unassisted) 64
SEA -- Fredy Montero 9 (Brad Evans 3, Leo Gonzalez 2) 67
Seattle Sounders -- Kasey Keller, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Jeff Parke, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez, Lamar Neagle, Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Alvaro Fernandez (David Estrada 79), Nate Jaqua (Sammy Ochoa 66), Fredy Montero.
Substitutes Not Used: Servando Carrasco, Mike Fucito, Patrick Ianni, Michael Tetteh, Josh Ford.
Vancouver Whitecaps -- Joe Cannon, Jonathan Leathers (Jeb Brovsky 46), Jay DeMerit, Michael Boxall, Jordan Harvey, Gershon Koffie, Peter Vagenas, Davide Chiumiento, Camilo, Eric Hassli (Long Tan 81), Mustapha Jarju (Shea Salinas 58).
Substitutes Not Used: Philippe Davies, Greg Janicki, Omar Salgado, Jay Nolly.
SEA -- Brad Evans (caution; Dissent) 31
VAN -- Jay DeMerit (caution; Handball) 32
VAN -- Eric Hassli (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 70
SEA -- Jeff Parke (caution; Unsporting Behavior) 77
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: -Corey Rockwell; Frank Anderson
4th Official: Paul Ward
Time of Game: 1:50