VANCOUVER, B.C. – Last October, the Vancouver Whitecaps strolled into CenturyLink Field with the Cascadia Cup on the line and bagged a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Sounders, giving them regional bragging rights for the year.
This year, Seattle made sure that there would be no repeat.
The Sounders romped over Vancouver 3-0 at B.C. Place on Saturday to clinch their first Cascadia Cup trophy since 2011, a result that also played the dual role of allowing Seattle (14-13-3) to pocket three utterly crucial points in a muddled Western Conference playoff picture.
“It means everything,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei told reporters after the game. “It’s come at the perfect time. Obviously there’s a trophy on the line and three points away against a tough team – I think arguably the best side in the league right now – is huge for us.”
Seattle managed to jump in front on the stroke of halftime courtesy of Austrian midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz, who snuck behind the Vancouver back line and finished off a pinpoint feed from forward Obafemi Martins in the 45th minute.
Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said that the goal from Ivanschitz – who was making his first-ever start in a Sounders uniform – turned out to be key in opening up the game for his side to get both its insurance tallies.
“It forced them to open up,” Schmid said. “When the game was 0-0, they were comfortable but they were also not happy with their aggressiveness. I think that’s the big thing that [Whitecaps coach] Carl Robinson changed for them at halftime: Got them more aggressive and got them pushed up.”
The Sounders would eventually capitalize on Vancouver’s more aggressive approach in the second half, as midfielder Gonzalo Pineda banged in Seattle’s second goal in the 71st minute after Clint Dempsey found him in the Whitecaps' penalty box on a counter-attack. Martins tacked on the final goal in the 87th minute.
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The second goal was the first of the year for Pineda, who had struggled to find minutes in recent weeks in Seattle’s crowded midfield.
“It was a lot emotion there,” Pineda said. “I think after being a little bit on the bench a few games, it was always what you dream about, getting in the game. I think today it was a very complete game for us.”
The game marked the end of a back-and-forth regular season series between the two sides. The Sounders won the first meeting of the year at BC Place 2-0 in May but got blown out 3-0 in the next one at CenturyLink Field on Aug. 1.
“I’m not going to try and figure out that series,” Schmid said. “What I am trying to figure out is how we can continue to show that we’re a good road team – which we’ve always been – and that we gather some momentum and that we keep gathering points and try and move as high up in the standings as we can.”