What a difference a week can make. Not seven days ago Sounders region-wide were licking their wounds after a pair of costly loses. But Cascadia wins make everything better, and so it is that we find Seattle tied for first place in the hunt for the Cascadia Cup.
Fredy Montero worked his bench magic once again in the 64th minute, and now sits on an incredible 6 career MLS goals in 10 reserve appearances. And although the goals came from the pair of forwards (currently sitting at sixth for forward pairings in MLS), the win was largely a team effort, in no small part thanks to a stifling defense.
Both Adam Johansson and Leo Gonzalez made cases for Man of the Match, not only shutting down the flanks, but also contributing to the attack in the ways they were brought in to do. Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning controlled his box strongly, but was hardly tested as his back line prevented Vancouver's dangerous attack from mounting even a single shot on goal. They controlled the high line of Darren Mattocks and neutralized his speed and leaping ability.
The stats perhaps don't reflect how chippy a game this ended up being. It started early, with late challenges and awkward tackles from the rear, and resulted in an effectively even 16-15 foul differential, with a yellow to each side.
The performance puts Seattle in sole possession of third place in the west, with a game in hand on Western Leaders San Jose and four coming fixtures on the schedule against non-playoff teams. Things were pretty dark for a while there, but the dawn has come, and it looks like this squad is ready to seize it.
SEA - Fredy Montero (Jeff Parke, Mauro Rosales) 64'
SEA - Eddie Johnson (Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso) 87'
Seattle Sounders FC: Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson (Zach Scott 79), Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert, Alex Caskey (Fredy Montero 61), Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose 88), Eddie Johnson.
Substitutes Not Used: Josh Ford, Patrick Ianni, Steve Zakuani, Sammy Ochoa.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 16; OFFSIDE: 2; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 0.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: Joe Cannon, Young-Pyo Lee, Carlyle Mitchell, Andy O'Brien, Alain Rochat, Gershon Koffie, Jun Marques Davidson (John Thorrington 90), Dane Richards, Kenny Miller, Camilo Sanvezzo, Darren Mattocks (Atiba Harris 90).
Substitutes Not Used: Brad Knighton, Jordan Harvey, Matt Watson, Russell Teibert, Michael Nanchoff.
TOTAL SHOTS: 5; SHOTS ON GOAL: 0; FOULS: 15; OFFSIDE: 3; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 3.
SEA - Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 58'
VAN - Gershon Koffie (caution) 90+1'
Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee's Assistants: Kevin Duliba, Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Yader Reyes
Attendance: 55,718 Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Partly cloudy and 64 degrees
All Statistics contained in the boxscore are unoffical.
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Coach
(On the game...) "Obviously we're happy with the two-nothing win. They're a tough team, it was a tough game. It was a physical game, as well, but I thought our guys did well. I thought we had a good period of time in the first half where we dominated for a little bit. The start of the game was a little bit theirs, I thought the end of the first half a little bit theirs, but then as the second half rolled on I thought we got more and more opportunities. At the end of the day, I thought we had the clearer of the chances, so we're obviously pleased with the two-nothing win."
(On adjustments he made...) "There weren't a whole lot of adjustments. We felt that we could really find some joy on the right-hand side. We felt that [Alain] Rochat was really tucking in an awful lot, so then we felt whoever was on the right wing--[Brad] Evans, and later we pushed [Mauro] Rosales out there--if they just stayed close to the touch line, they would find space. And obviously our second goal came from that, as well. We wanted Eddie [Johnson] to play a little bit higher, so he was playing a little more off the shoulder of the last defender, and we looked to play more balls in. We talked about that, and keeping possession on their end of the field."
(On Fredy Montero not starting...) "Fredy missed practice on Friday. It was an excused absence, he had to attend to a family matter. It was no problem. It wasn't a punishment or anything, he just missed a practice and we wanted to make sure his mind was clear going into the game, which it was. We're not going to turn him into super-sub, or the 12th man of the year, or something like that, even though he does well when he comes off the bench. As we've always said, goal scorers are streaky a little bit. I always get a special joy when we win a game and there's a Montero goal and a Johnson goal. I think it substantiates what we're trying to do with those two guys, and when you start adding it up now, they're starting to get to a place where they're probably one of the three-four combinations in the league in terms of goal production."
(On his personnel changes...) "Like I said, we felt we could find some joy on the right, so I wanted to bring Mauro out to the right because I felt he could use that space a little bit. The reason we took [Alex] Caskey off is because we needed to keep some height on the field because of their danger on set pieces. As a group we didn't want to go too small. I thought [Christian] Tiffert, especially in the first half, I thought he had a very good game. He started to run our game for us a little bit, and that was helpful in midfield, and there were times he was doing it in the second half, as well."
(On the play of Brad Evans...) "His versatility helps us, and we play enough games where people are going to get on the field and people are going to play. But right now with new players coming in, you still have to find--and it will take some time--to find the right mix and to see how it mixes together the right way. Today, the mix worked. [Jhon] Kennedy [Hurtado] in the back was also a good one-on-one solution for us defensively, but he didn't start the last game for example. Sometimes there's just matchups that are a little better, and I think we have the depth where we can adjust to some of them."
(On the crowd...) "It's a tremendous reflection of what Seattle is doing. I told Adrian [Hanauer] if he keeps getting more than 50,000 we'll keep winning because every league game over 50,000 we've won. So we don't mind if in the next game they want to open up some more seats and get another 55,000 in there."
(On if Steve Zakuani and Mario Martinez will play in the Reserve Match tomorrow...) "Definitely, Steve will start in the reserve game and we're going to give Mario some minutes, as well. I asked [Mario] what he thought of the crowd, if it was like Real Espana, and he just started laughing. He said, 'No, this is tremendous.' He's excited and we're excited to see him play. He trained with the group [yesterday] and it was good."
(On what makes Montero so good coming off the bench...) "Fredy wants to play the whole game, too. He's a team guy, he's very respectful of all situations. He accepts them from the standpoint of, even if it's maybe not the decision that he's thrilled about, he's very professional in his approach, and when he gets on the field he's going to do the best he can. But it's no different than other guys, as well. Fredy's mentality is that he wants to get out there, he wants to make a difference, he wants to be a game-changer, whether he starts or it ends up he doesn't start. He still wants to do the same when he comes in the game."
(On Eddie Johnson's strong run of play lately...) "You're always looking to get better, you're always looking to improve. I'm sure Eddie will tell you the same thing. He probably over-dribbled the one, he probably should have hit it with his right foot when he beat the guy and he cut back. He had a great left-footed effort in the first half, had a couple headers that were right around there. He had the one that I know he'd like to have back off the cross, which also came from the right. It shows you that we got in on that side. I'm fine, as long as [Johnson and Montero] both stay hot, I'm happy."
(On Mauro Rosales' strong play of recent...) "Obviously, he's getting involved. He's getting assists, which is what he did for us last year and we need him to continue to do that...He's important for our flow and as we get to understand even each other better and better, I think our cohesion will get stronger, as well."
(On Michael Gspurning...) "He's a big presence back there. He's a guy you look back and you're confident in. When you play against a team that sends a lot of crosses in or hits free kicks in there, when you look back and you say, 'If he's coming off the line, he's probably going to get a hand on it or he's going to punch it clear or definitely get to it.' He's been solid, his organization is good for us, as well. He's a tremendous asset for our team, not just in what he can do as a goalkeeper, but in the voice he brings to the field. His experience has been important, and it was great tonight to get a shutout. I thought that was very important for us, as well."
Eddie Johnson - Sounders FC Forward
(On scoring goals in Cascadia Cup matches...) "These games are meaningful. These are the big games. This is what our fans look forward to every season, Cascadia games. We know the importance of the game. I had a few opportunities that I didn't put away...If I miss one then it's always the next one. If I keep putting myself in spots where I can get goals then it's going to come. Before the game I told Brad [Evans] if he ever got time and space out wide that if they give me the back post I'll come like I'm coming to the near if he's cheating and I'll go to the back post, and vice-versa. Brad played an amazing ball across the box. To be fair, those are the hard ones...I made that run. I was committed to the whole play. It was just good build-up...All the credit to Brad. I just had to get on the end of it."
(On the forward pairings in MLS...) "We aren't worried about anybody else. We are just worried about ourselves...We are just focused on what we are trying to do here in Seattle, trying to establish our identity as a team here. I think we are doing a good job as far as the new players that have come in and contributed to the team this season. It's all about us. We are not worried about who is the best striking pair in the league. Every striker, every team, every pair has their own style of play. Fredy and I have a style of play that is a lot different from other teams in the league. At the end of the day it is about us. Fredy is competitive. I'm competitive. I think he's trying to be the leading goal scorer. That's one of my goals, too. So if we're both trying to be leading goal scorers it's going to get more goals from both of us so it's good for the team."
Brad Evans - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On the team's second goal...) "They were pressing. I think they got caught a little bit. Ozzie [Alonso] turned and I'd been sitting out on the wing, kind of hanging out there all game and Rochat was tucked in a little bit. He played a good ball over the top. It actually held up a little bit. I was expecting it to come a little bit faster but I was able to get a touch on it before it hit the ground. It was a good, positive touch and I looked up, had a glance, and actually didn't see anybody in the box. I just knew that they were there so I tried to play it across. My earlier crosses weren't very successful so I just focused on getting this one out of the goalkeeper's reach and giving our guys a chance."
(On the physicality of the match...) "There were ticky-tack fouls. Nothing was too bad. There were a couple of fouls where guys got upset but for the most part it was part of the game and I think guys rolled with the punches. Everybody knew it was going to be physical; it's a derby. I think we held up well, we get out with the result and that's the most important thing."
(On the crowd...) "I had no idea. I think back to 2008 when I first found out I was coming here, then hearing there were 5,000 then 10,000 season-ticket holders. All of a sudden, four years later it's 55,000 for a league game. That's unheard of and it's really something special. As long as we keep winning these games we keep people happy, and that's pretty important as well."
Mauro Rosales - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On controlling the game in second half...) "It was very intense game. There wasn't much space in the game. We were the clearer team in the second half. We had more clear chances and I'm happy we scored the two goals to control the game to the end. Fredy came in and did an excellent job finishing his first play. I think it might have been the first ball that he touched. That was very good for us because it's very important to beat them for the Cascadia Cup - it's a derby - to represent for the club and for us. We expect that and we want that."
(On Fredy Montero coming off the bench...) "It didn't look like it was difficult for him. He just came in and was active, worked for any ball in the area. Today, he did, and it was a goal, very proud to have him on the team."
Michael Gspurning - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On his 8-2-1 record starting...) "I don't know, you'd have to ask the team. I don't know the statistics exactly but I feel like I'm winning more than we're losing. I'm happy with the guys in front of me. We had a great team effort, especially this week was important to take points because last week we put so much effort into those teams and we didn't take the results. We knew it's just about taking the three points and nothing else matters."
(On bouncing back...) "We showed great character today in front of our crowd again. It's very easy after this week to come back mentally strong. We didn't start well today to be honest. After 30 minutes we took more and more control of the game. We knew we had to keep pushing and we would score, and if we keep them at zero then for sure we'd win. Then in the last minutes we got the second goal."
(On the crowd...) "Yeah, I can. I can imagine. Maybe we have to think about opening up the upper level every game. It's always amazing in front of this crowd. Before the game, if you walk through the tunnel, you get goose bumps. It's amazing."
Martin Rennie - Whitecaps FC Head Coach
(General comments on the game...) "I think it was an exciting game. Obviously not the outcome that we wanted. Overall I feel like our performance for most of the game was pretty good, I'm disappointed with the goals that we lost. I think playing three games in the week cost us a bit, near the end we were getting tired. With the number of players missing during the week during international games I thought we just looked a little bit tired. I think for us right now we've got a little bit of adversity, missing a few key players and the players that have come in aren't really match-fit yet. Now Andy O'Brien and Kenny Miller got 90 minutes and that's going to help us as we go forward. For me there's a lot of positive things to take away from it. It's always disappointing to lose, especially with the fans making the trip down here. I thought it was a good game, two good teams and a rivalry that can grow to become very strong in the league. I'm just disappointed that tonight we didn't come out better."
(On missing some key players...) "Right now we've kind of got an unsettled team. As I said, as team right now we're facing a bit of adversity, but that happens. Generally this season we've done very well up until this point. Right now little things aren't going our way, maybe even the goal that they got that I didn't really feel was a free kick then we got punished with a goal against us. Those things right now are happening and in a season where that happens, it's really important how you bounce back from that and how you react. Do you take responsibility and figure out how to get better? Or blame other people and get your head down? I know this group, they'll take responsibility and they have character. An exciting things for us is that we're having some guys come back into our lineup and some other guys will have a chance to be fresh next week. Our team is really coming together well. Today was a disappointment but we'll bounce back from it."
(On Barry Robson, Whitecaps FC midfielder who served his one game suspension today...) "I think he would agree that that was something that wasn't acceptable and deserves one game. The issue is that we didn't know until 9:00 PM last night and that makes it very hard because we've already put together our training, we've already picked our A-team, we've already picked our starting lineup and we've gone through all of our set plays. It was really hard to have a player like that, our captain, who is involved with everything you're doing, it was tough. I felt that given all of that adversity I thought it was a little unfortunate not to get something out of the game because we had chances. At least a couple of half-chances in the first half, we needed to take one of those. In the second half we definitely could have defended better. The overall performance of the team was good."
Andy O'Brien - Vancouver Whitecaps FC Defender
(On today's rivalry match...) "It's disappointing because of the result. Hopefully next time we come here we get a better result."
(On his and Carlyle Mitchel's communication...) "Yah, that is something you become more comfortable with the older you get. You're always talking and communicating, but through your younger years I suppose it's more of a learning experience. Yeah, it's something that I developed in my game over the years I guess."
(On how he is managing to get adjusted to the pitches they have here...) "They're different, but the pitch is still the same size and everything is still the same. So it's not too different."
Barry Robson - Vancouver Whitecaps FC Midfielder
(On him not being able to play in today's match...) "I don't know, I don't need to comment. I think everybody is looking at it knowing that it is all wrong. What can I do? I don't now, there's nothing I can do about it. I probably can't say anything about it either because they'll have a problem with that. All I can say is that everyone looking at it knows that it wasn't handled very well. I need to move on and worry about the game next week."
(On how frustrating was it to be watching today...) "It's obviously very frustrating. The team was prepared for me to play, we come three hours and we find out this. Obviously I was supposed to be playing in the game then all of sudden it changed, and teams had to change. We were at a huge disadvantage and I feel sorry for the players and the staff of our club. What can I do?
(On if he is embarrassed about the incident that caused his one game ban...) "Of course. I never once intended to kick the ball at the official. We were getting beat in a game and I just kicked it out of frustration. There wasn't even a thought of the official being there, it didn't even cross my mind. I got kicked out the game, and I accepted that being that I kicked the ball at an official. But then I ended up getting banned for a game, getting a fine, getting massive punishment. It seems to be very harsh on what they have done to me."
(On the ways that match was officiated and the consequences of his ban...) "I can't comment, I'll probably get in trouble again if I speak on it. All I can say is everyone look at the consequences of make your own mind up. Yeah I accept, I understand I kicked the ball at the official. I'll take the ejection, I'll take the yellow card, and I'll even take the fine, but a bigger fine and a game ban? To put the team in jeopardy and make it all hard for us; I hope it doesn't happen again, I hope it doesn't happen to any club."