The Seattle Sounders scored early in each half to defeat Vancouver Whitecaps FC, 4-1, in a Cascadia clash at Lumen Field Saturday night, clinching a spot in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for a 13th consecutive season.

The Sounders got the party started early, with Shane O’Neill latching onto a sublime Kelyn Rowe service and scoring his first goal of the season on a back-post header to cap a perfectly-executed training ground corner kick.

The Sounders doubled their lead off another restart in the 14th minute on a sequence that started with a Rowe throw-in to Will Bruin, who played a ball into the box. Nicolas Benezet took a touch to separate from Florian Jungwirth before nutmegging ‘Caps goalkeeper Thomas Hasal for his second goal of the season.

Benezet nearly had his second goal moments later, but Jungwirth headed away a goal-line clearance before Jimmy Medranda flashed a low shot wide of the far post.

After absorbing immense pressure, the Whitecaps' first quality chance came in the 17th minute when Deiber Caicedo rattled the crossbar with an attempt outside the 18-yard box before the red-hot Brian White pulled the visitors back a goal with a deflected finish at the edge of the six-yard box during first-half stoppage time.

Bruin fired under the crossbar from close range in the 55th minute to regain Seattle's two-goal lead. Rowe was again the catalyst on a ball to Fredy Montero, who played it perfectly into Bruin’s path.

Stefan Frei ensured there were no late nervy moments with a stunning kick save to deny Dajome from close range in the 75th minute.

The Whitecaps asked plenty of questions over the final quarter-hour, but Sounders' winger Leo Chu put the icing on the cake by opening his MLS account in the 90th minute.

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Goals

  • 5’ – SEA – Shane O’Neill | WATCH
  • 14’ – SEA – Nicolas Benezet | WATCH
  • 45’+1’ – VAN – Brian White | WATCH
  • 55’ – SEA – Will Bruin | WATCH
  • 90’ – SEA – Leo Chu | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: The definition of big picture is to book a spot in the postseason, which the Sounders did for the 13th consecutive time since their expansion launch in 2009. That’s remarkable consistency and it’s almost fitting it was done without several regular starters due to injury and international call-ups. Seattle also extended their lead atop the West to five points ahead of Sporting Kansas City, while the Whitecaps remain just below the playoff line with six matches remaining.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: You could witness the work the Sounders are doing on the training ground with well-worked restarts on their first two tallies. But it was this goal by The Dancing Bear that limited frayed nerves in the second half.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Rowe didn’t score a goal, but he played an influential role from start to finish. He picked up three assists, a first in his lengthy MLS career.

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