SEATTLE – The Vancouver Whitecaps gave their playoff hopes a large boost and bagged a Cascadia Cup title in one fell swoop Friday night, riding a stellar defensive effort to a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field.
With the win, the Whitecaps vaulted back over the Portland Timbers and into the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with 46 points on the season. Vancouver took the lead on a 45th-minute goal from forward Kekuta Manneh and needed nothing else, smothering Seattle’s offensive attack for much of the night on their way to the shutout.
The first half seemed destined to end scoreless until Manneh found himself all alone on the break off a feed from Pedro Morales. The 19-year-old then managed to slot his attempt underneath a lunging Stefan Frei for the halftime advantage. Manneh, who recorded a memorable hat trick against Seattle almost a year ago to the day, had just re-entered the contest after receiving treatment on the sideline for an injury moments earlier and would be subbed off at the break.
Vancouver had a chance to double their lead shortly after the second-half kickoff on another breakaway opportunity from forward Erik Hurtado. But Hurtado’s shot was deflected away by Frei, keeping the score at 1-0.
Seattle’s normally potent offensive attack struggled to generate clean opportunities for the duration of the contest, with seemingly every foray into Vancouver’s box met with a clearance from the Whitecaps backline. Seattle finished with just six shots on the night – three on goal.
The Sounders did have two great chances to equalize in the waning moments of the contest.
Clint Dempsey had a look at an open net in the 90th minute after a ball was popped up into Vancouver’s penalty box, but he put his attempt just wide of the goal. Brad Evans then had a look at a header off a cross from Dempsey in stoppage time, but Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted managed to block the attempt.
The three points put Vancouver (11-8-13) at 10 on the season in Cascadia Cup play, giving them the title for a second-consecutive season. Seattle haven’t won the battle for Northwest superiority since 2011.
The loss also makes Seattle’s path to a Supporters’ Shield considerably more difficult, as the Sounders remain tied with the LA Galaxy at 60 points on the season. The Galaxy play FC Dallas on Sunday.
Vancouver return to action Saturday on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Sounders wrap up their season with a home-and-home series against the Galaxy, with the first meeting set for Oct. 19 in LA.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Kendall Waston||The big defender set the tone with his physical play and led a flawless backline performance|
|2||Kekuta Manneh||Gave Seattle all kinds of problems with pace in first half, made them pay with winner|
|3||Marco Pappa||Created the most chances for Sounders|