VANCOUVER, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 24: Jay DeMerit #6 of the Vancouver Whitecaps (L) screams as he is tackled by Fredy Montero #17 of the Seattle Sounders during their game at Empire Stadium September 24, 2011 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Nick Didlick/Getty Images)
Any day when the Captain of the Seattle Sounders can raise a cup is a good day. When Kasey Keller can raise a Supporters Cup on the grounds of the opposition it seems even sweeter. That he was handed it by a member of the Emerald City Supporters after it was handed over from the Timbers Army increases in power.
Chunky early play saw the Vancouver Whitecaps fairly simply splitting the defense of the Sounders. They finished one of those through-balls in what seemed like a cone drill. Fortunately for the hundreds of fans of Seattle that traveled there was more danger, but to no effect. Brad Evans forced the game level after Jay DeMerit was cautioned for his use of hands to prevent an Alvaro Fernandez cross. Seattle continued to get stronger as the game lengthened.
This was one of those days when Fredy Montero's power, speed and footwork were clearly displayed. His defensive abilities won the ball in the central third and sparked attacks. His passing was brilliant and his interplay with the other attacking players strong. He scored a great little toe poke goal with his off-foot after a shimmy and then the golden god arose. He wanted more. Just minutes later scoring off a blast that was deflected, but clearly his. Montero did not stop attacking. He was clearly dissatisfied with just two goals to his credit.
Montero's supporting cast was strong as well. Both Nate Jaqua and Sammy Ochoa had opportunities just miss. Lamar Neagle tried to break the woodwork twice. The offense was a team affair that involved wide play, direct play, tight passing and interchanging wingers. Joe Cannon was put to work.
The struggles on defense don't need a lot of attention. There were mistakes made that if made against a better team probably wind up as a goal. Focusing on these when the Sounders and ECS are taking a trophy home seems foolish.
What deserves mention was the strong defensive play of Brad Evans. Unlike the linking play of Peter Vagenas, both with Seattle and now in Vancouver, Evans would link either square or forward. Whether he or Osvaldo Alonso won the ball the other was there for the simple pass, and then the winner would move forward into space. At this time they are the strongest central pairing.
In a game with a trophy, no matter how major or minor, Sigi Schmid also played David Estrada for the first time in ages. He and Ochoa entered the match as the least used players on the team. On Saturday night they ended the game on the field of victory. Estrada showed his ball skills and speed. Ochoa his power and heading ability. Both still developing, they are the deepest of depth and involved in a win heading into a long road trip.
With the win the Sounders are in possession of 2nd place in MLS and the Western Conference. With the win next week's game between the Timbers and Whitecaps has little relevance.
Today the Cascadia Cup is ours again. Truly ours. It is a trohpy of, for and by the supporters of the team. Tomorrow the hope to fill the trophy case more continues. Tonight there is a rolling party heading south on I-5.