Jordan Morris played the hero yet again for the Seattle Sounders on Saturday, netting a diving header in the late going to break down an obdurate Vancouver Whitecaps defense and earn his team a crucial 1-0 win at CenturyLink Field.
The goal, Morris' fifth game-winner of the season – tying the league lead – capped a typically industrious outing from the rookie, who now stands on 10 league goals in his first professional campaign.
The victory hauls Seattle past Vancouver into seventh place in the MLS Western Conference, just three points back of the Portland Timbers (pending their match vs. Philadelphia later in the day), who currently occupy the West's sixth and final playoff slot.
The home side controlled proceedings throughout, with Vancouver content to absorb waves of pressure and break out on the counter where possible. The 'Caps rope-a-dope gambit nearly worked, as substitute Giles Barnes cracked a low drive off the base of the far post just a few minutes before Morris got onto the end of a teasing inswinging cross from Nicolas Lodeiro.
- J-MO, ROTY? The sky-high expectations that greeted Morris on his long-awaited arrival in MLS have proven even more unrealistic than many observers thought at the time. Despite his raw talent, college excellence and US national team showings, he's still a green pro with lots to learn and improve on. But his instinctive nose for goal is unmistakeable. Forget for a moment about the chances Morris has missed: He's netted plenty, most of them crucial for his team. Rookie of the Year honors probably await.
- CASCADIA CUP PILEUP: With two games left in the three-club rivalry, the final destination of this year's trophy is anyone's guess. Vancouver host both Portland and Seattle next month, and it's quite possible that all three teams could finish tied on nine points apiece. This one might get wild.
- GLOOMY IN GASTOWN: The Whitecaps really, really needed points from this game, and going back across the border empty-handed may spell doom for their postseason hopes. Vancouver have won just one league game since mid-July, a stretch that adds up to a grisly 1-6-3 record, and their current 1.13 points-per-game clip ranks fourth-worst in the entire league. They're not dead yet, but they need to conjure up something special, and sharpish.