SEATTLE — The Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps certainly gave the league’s largest crowd of the season their money's worth.
The Cascadia Cup rivals traded the lead twice in a wide open affair with Lamar Neagle finally scoring the game-winner in the 81st minute of a 3-2 Sounders victory Saturday evening.
Neagle got the winner after taking a near perfect cross from Obafemi Martins. Neagle also drew the penalty that allowed the Sounders to tie the match and picked up the assist on the Sounders' first goal.
Building off some of the energy from the 53,679 in attendance, the Sounders jumped out to an early lead when they struck Vancouver on a well-executed counter. Neagle was in the middle of it, sending a weighted ball to Andy Rose as the midfielder streaked behind the Whitecaps defense and finished to the back post.
The Whitecaps hit back just one minute later. Russell Teibert and YP Lee created space down the right, then found Camilo Sanvezzo with a well-placed cross at the back post for a wide-open header.
The game continued its frantic pace with the Sounders nearly grabbing the lead right back in the 11th minute. Neagle created some space and sent in a cross through the box that went just over Martins' head.
Neagle and Martins nearly combined again in the 23rd minute. Neagle ripped a shot from just outside the penalty area that deflected off a Whitecaps defender and fell to the feet of Martins, whose attempt to redirect the rebound went just inches wide.
The Whitecaps capitalized on those missed chances with another Teibert-to-Camilo masterpiece in the 26th minute. This time, Teibert took a free kick from about 30 yards out that again found the head of Camilo, who was able to slip between two defenders and score.
The Whitecaps nearly extended their lead in the 53rd minute. Camilo laced a free kick from about 25 yards that caused Michael Gspurning to spill the rebound. Nigel Reo-Coker was first to it, and his one-time strike from about eight yards out forced a spectacular kick save from Gspurning.
The Sounders made the big save count when Neagle drew a penalty after being taken down by Greg Klazura in the area. Servando Carrasco, who had never scored in his MLS career, calmly stepped up and rifled his shot into the top of the goal.
That had come just a few minutes after the Sounders felt as though they should have been awarded another penalty. Martins was taken down very close to the edge of the penalty area and foul was called, but the referee ruled that Martins was just outside the area. Replays appeared to show that he was just inside it.
Neagle’s game-winner came after a sustained run of Seattle pressure. Martins took a clever pass from Rose at the top of the box and turned into the box, then laced a low cross into the six. Neagle was on the spot, beating his defender to the near post for his fourth goal of the season.
The Sounders improved to 6-4-3 and moved into fourth place in the Western Conference.
The Whitecaps fell to 4-5-4 and fell four points behind the final playoff spot.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Lamar Neagle||He's the Sounders MVP this year, leading the team in goals, assists and heart. Did everything you could ask of a forward on the night.|
|2||Camilo Sanvezzo||He can disappear for long stretches, but has a knack for turning up at the right time in the box. His set pieces are a danger as well.|
|3||Obafemi Martins||Didn't bury any of his chances, but kept making great-plays until he finally made the game-deciding one. Worth every penny.|