SEATTLE — The Vancouver Whitecaps' playoff hopes are still alive, thanks to a remarkable performance by 18-year-old rookie Kekuta Manneh.
The Whitecaps forward scored three goals to lead his team to a 4-1 takedown of the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday at CenturyLink Field. The Whitecaps must now win their final two games against the Colorado Rapids -- away and home -- in order to have any chance at qualifying for the playoffs for the second straight year.
The Sounders have a different kind of worry. They have now been outscored 9-2 in their past two games; haven't won in four straight; and although they still have a chance to win the Supporters' Shield, their confidence has obviously taken a hit.
The Whitecaps (12-11-9) wasted little time putting the Sounders (15-10-6) on their back foot, opening the scoring with Manneh's first goal since July 14. The rookie got behind the Sounders defense after Jhon Kennedy Hurtado's attempted clearance was volleyed forward by Daigo Kobayashi. Manneh sped ahead of Hurtado and beat Michael Gspurning who was a bit slow to come off his line.
The goal came only moments after Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted made an impressive shoulder save on the other end on Lamar Neagle, who had broken free into the box on a David Estrada throw-in. Although the Sounders mostly dominated play after Manneh's first goal, they were unable to make anything of it and were eventually caught on a counter-strike shortly before halftime.
Manneh's speed was again the main culprit, this time beating Djimi Traore. Y.P. Lee started the play with a slick pass down the sideline to Camilo Sanvezzo, who back-heeled it to Manneh. With just one defender to beat, Manneh motored ahead of the defense and again beat Gspurning with a low shot. The rookie essentially sealed the result with a 53rd-minute goal that came after he worked a 1-2 with Kobayashi, which ended with him nut-megging Gspurning.
Up until Manneh's goals, Camilo had scored four straight goals for the Whitecaps, dating back to Kenny Miller's strike on Sept. 21. At that point, the Sounders had been outscored 9-1 over their past 188 minutes. The Sounders had never been outscored by such a wide margin during any stretch of their MLS existence.
Seattle finally got on the board with Mauro Rosales' fourth goal of the season in the 69th minute. The midfielder jumped on a rebound and pounded it into the back of the net to make it 3-1.
The Sounders had a couple decent chances to close the gap further, but Ousted stopped a one-on-one chance from DeAndre Yedlin in the 71st minute and Neagle and Obafemi Martins got in each other's way on a chance in the 78th minute. Nigel Reo-Coker ultimately put the match away with a breakaway goal in the 82nd minute. To add insult, the tight-angle shot snuck through Gspurning's legs.
The Sounders will have another chance to win the Cascadia Cup on the road against the Portland Timbers on Sunday. The Whitecaps next play at Colorado on Oct. 19.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Kekuta Manneh||Martin Rennie went with Manneh out of necessity and got more than he could have imagined from the rookie striker|
|2||David Ousted||Vancouver's 'keeper was tested often, and came up big with a number of key stops and clearances.|
|3||Mauro Rosales||Seattle's offense flowed through the Argentinian midfielder. He netted the Sounders' lone goal of the match.|