VANCOUVER – For the Seattle Sounders, Wednesday’s 1-1 draw against the Vancouver Whitecaps was a disappointing result, as they relinquished a 1-0 lead to their Cascadia Cup rivals -- despite going up a man in the second half.
However, the contest did include at least one notable silver lining for the visitors: the debut of Spanish midfielder Victor Rodriguez, who made his first start for the Sounders since his signing was officially announced earlier this month.
The 28-year-old winger won the first-half penalty kick converted by teammate Nicolas Lodeiro for Seattle’s lone goal. Rodriguez almost found the scoresheet on a few other occasions as well, including a beautifully struck free kick from distance that would have been goal if not for a fantastic diving save by Whitecaps goalkeeper David Ousted.
While it doesn’t mitigate the sting of the points Seattle left on the table, Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer told reporters he was pleased with Rodriguez's aggressive play.
“Good. Very good,” Schmetzer said. “You saw what he brought. Good quality, good passer. I like the fact that he was trying to be goal-dangerous, that’s something we discussed. I need goal production out of that position.”
Sounders striker Will Bruin also spoke highly of the overall chemistry Seattle’s attackers have developed with Rodriguez since his arrival.
“He’s easy to play with,” Bruin said. “He’s one of the guys who always wants the ball at his feet, he’s looking to combine, he’s looking to move and we have a lot of guys like that. So it makes my life easier as a striker.”
The next task for Schmetzer will be figuring out how to get Rodriguez consistent minutes, with Seattle’s first-choice front four of Lodeiro, Bruin, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris largely firing on all cylinders during the course of the club’s current 10-match unbeaten run.
Then again, said midfielder Cristian Roldan, the increased depth and competition can only be a good thing as the team hits the MLS stretch run.
“Victor’s a quality player, you can tell from the get-go,” Roldan said. “He’s the type of player that likes to 1-on-1, cut in to his right and take a shot or connect with Nico or Jordan or Will. So I think he’s a great addition to our team.
“I think it’s really hard right now with our team, with all the guys that can -- and should -- be starting. That’s the type of team that you want.”