Jul 6, 2014, 1:13 AM EDT
One game, 100 words (or less): With a team depleted by absences, injuries, and suspensions, Seattle’ was in no shape to take a result out of Vancouver. With a 12th minute, 26-yard bomb from Sebastián Fernández, the Whitecaps had the only goal they’d need, holding the Sounders to two shots on target in a 1-0 win at B.C. Place.
Three Two moments that mattered:
1. 0′ – This is the Seattle team? – Clint Dempsey and DeAndre Yedlin are just returning from Brazil (and not about to be stressed on that Vancouver turf). Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda were both suspended. Obafemi Martins and Djimi Traoré are hurt. Seven points clear in the Supporters Shield race, the Sounders had room for a night like this, but the lineups at kickoff still spoke to the imbalance:
Vancouver: Ousted; Beitashour, Mitchel, Leveron, Harevy; Laba, Koffie; Fernández, Morales, Manneh; Hurtado
Seattle: Frei; Anibaba, Marshall, Scott, Gonzalez; Neagle, Azira, Evans, Pappa; Barrett, Cooper
Vancouver wasn’t perfect either, but if you are going to have absences against a team missing Dempsey and Martins, might as well be in central defense.
2. 12′ – The absence of Alonso and Pineda – When you have two midfielders who’ve rarely played together, these kinds of things happen. The Whitecaps break pressure on their right and find Sebastián Fernández alone above the arc. With the defense entrenched at the edge of the 18-yard box, the Uruguayan has room to take a touch before having a crack. With both sides of goal to choose from, he picks the right, finding net for the game’s only goal.
3. 13′ – 90′ – The one big moment – The rest of the match didn’t exactly blend together, but it was defined by the same story. Vancouver, having its one-goal lead, was never given an incentive to go in for the kill, though they had their chances (most notably, a remarkable Erik Hurtado breakaway in the second half where his attempted chip dribbled meekly to Stefan Frei). Without its danger men, the Sounders never gave Vancouver reason to believe a second goal was necessary.
Three lessons going forward:
1. Seattle should be well-rested for Portland – The upshot of these suspensions and absences: The Sounders will be in good shape for their upcoming matches with the Timbers. Mid-week, the rivals face-off in the U.S. Open Cup, while CenturyLink’s upper deck will be open when the teams leave Tukwila for Seattle.
2. Vancouver has a huge lead in the Cascadia Cup – The competition’s current standings, thanks to the updated Wikipedia page:
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC||7||3||2||0||1||7||5||+2|
|Seattle Sounders FC||2||3||0||1||2||6||7||-1|
The Whitecaps have one more home game against the Timbers (Aug. 20) before closing the informal competition at Portland (Sept. 20) and Seattle (Oct. 10).
The Timbers’ game-in-hand and two matches against the Whitecaps could swing the race, but Seattle’s in a tough spot. Even if they max out points (11), they’re at the mercy of the Whitecaps. As of now, it looks like Cascadia’s trophy will stay in British Columbia.
3. Erik Hurtado seems to be cooling off – After the former Santa Clara forward broke through earlier this season with his first MLS goal, he went on a four-game run that pushed Darren Mattocks to the bench. Tonight, however, made it clear that form is gone. Particularly on that failed breakaway, Hurtado looks like his 2013 self, and while the work rate that’s always earn him time is still there, the Whitecaps may yet need Mattocks.
Not that he’s necessarily a better option. Scoreless in his last six appearances, the Jamaican international has now gone two-and-a-half months without a goal.
Where this leaves them:
- The win gives Vancouver a room on sixth place LA, having opened up a four-point gap thanks to this weekend’s results.
- Seattle stays seven points up on Real Salt Lake and Colorado in the Western Conference. The Sounders lead the Supporters Shield race by the same margin.
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