There was no shortage of motivation. In one fell swoop, the Seattle Sounders had a chance to win the Cascadia Cup, move into the Supporters' Shield lead and lock up a playoff spot. Instead, the team just fighting to stay alive in the playoff hunt looked the hungrier team as the Sounders fell 4-1 to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday at CenturyLink Field. It was, unquestionably, the most disappointing home result in Sounders history.
It didn't have to be this way, of course. The Sounders got caught on a horrible clearance to give up the first goal, but had ample opportunities to equalize. They proved wasteful and showed zero acumen in the attacking third. Bad decisions and wasted chances were the defining moments.
Even as much as a tie would have made the Sounders' lives so much easier. Instead, they now head to Portland for what is a must-win game in every non-literal sense. A win is the only way the Sounders can win the Cascadia Cup, but more importantly it's the only real way they can gain any semblance of confidence heading into the playoffs.
Anyway, here's a chance to relive the horror.
VAN - Kekuta Manneh (Daigo Kobayashi) 12'
VAN - Kekuta Manneh (Camilo, Young-Pyo Lee) 42'
VAN - Kekuta Manneh (Daigo Kobayashi) 53'
SEA - Mauro Rosales 69'
VAN - Nigel Reo-Coker 82'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Marc Burch (Patrick Ianni 60), Mauro Rosales, Osvaldo Alonso, Andy Rose (Steve Zakuani 79), David Estrada (Clint Dempsey 51), Lamar Neagle, Obafemi Martins.
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Dylan Remick, Adam Moffat, Eriq Zavaleta.
TOTAL SHOTS: 21 (Neagle 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Neagle 3); FOULS: 12 (Alonso, Neagle 3); OFFSIDE: 0; CORNER KICKS: 8 (Rosales 7); SAVES: 1 (Gspurning 1).
Vancouver Whitecaps FC - David Ousted, Young-Pyo Lee, Carlyle Mitchell, Jay DeMerit, Jordan Harvey, Jun Marques Davidson, Daigo Kobayashi (Russell Teibert 75), Nigel Reo-Coker, Matt Watson, Camilo Sanvezzo (Erik Hurtado 86), Kekuta Manneh (Gershon Koffie 72).
Substitutes Not Used: Brad Knighton, Andy O'Brien, Greg Klazura, Tommy Heinemann.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Manneh 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Manneh 3); FOULS: 12 (4 players, 2); OFFSIDE: 4 (Manneh 3); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Camilo 1); SAVES: 6 (Ousted 6).
VAN - Carlyle Mitchell (caution) 51'
Referee: Juan Guzman
Referee's Assistants: Fabio Tovar, Peter Balciunas
4th Official: David Gantar
Time of Game: 1:49
Weather: Sunny and 55 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
Sigi Schmid - Sounders FC Head Coach
(Opening statement...) "Disappointing and poor performance from us tonight. It seems like the last two games, when the other team shoots they score. We have to find a way to stop that."
(On how much emphasis they put on the scoreline...) "You can put all the emphasis you want on it now, you can write a big article-we've taken nine goals in two games, our defense has been porous, they've scored goals, our goalkeeping hasn't been good, our central defending hasn't been good, so you can make a big thing out of that."
(On if criticism is warranted...) "You can write whatever you want. If you write a bad article, I try not to criticize you. You can write ten good articles, but two bad articles, we'll get on your case for it. At the end of the day, it wasn't a good performance today, it wasn't a good performance at Colorado, and it's unacceptable. We live and die together, we live and die as a team, as a staff, everybody. It's unacceptable from us as a coaching staff, it's unacceptable for us as a team, and it's just unacceptable the last two performances. Everything you say is warranted because obviously we haven't done anything in the last two games to show a difference."
(On the personnel decisions...) "The personnel needs to play better. Obviously we benched some people earlier in the year because we didn't think they were playing adequately enough. Then they came back and they played better. Right now, they're not playing well. We had hoped to start [Pat] Ianni this game and then he came up with a leg injury, and then all of a sudden today was better, but by that time we'd already made the decision who we were going to play in the back. He came in and I thought he played well, but he's got to be ready to go, too, at the beginning, not might-be hurt."
(On what parts of the team he will evaluate...) "I think we have to look at everything. I think we have to look at goalkeeper, I think we have to look at defenders, we have to look at midfield, and we have to look at attackers because the performance of the team hasn't been good enough. There's nobody that's a given right now."
(On the frustrations of the last two losses...) "It's disappointing because we're just not making plays. We're not making saves, we're not making defensive stops, we're not winning tackles, people are slipping in behind us, we're no running with people, so those are things that are just unacceptable and we have to look at it and we have to solve it."
(On the two first-half goals...) "The first one is a poor header-a poor clearance on a header-so they get the ball and they push it through right away and they score. In the second one, we get pulled apart and we try and win a ball in a part of the field where we don't have to win the ball, and he slips it through and we're unbalanced, and all of a sudden it's two-nothing. Two chances, two goals. And both of them are avoidable. Both of them were mistakes-mistakes from the standpoint of a bad decision. A bad header, and a mistake in the sense of you don't need to make the tackle there, you just need to stand the guy up."
(On what he told the team in the locker room...) "That's between me and them."
(On players returning from injuries...) "Health isn't the issue right now, we're taking goals. We have to solve that."
(On having multiple rivalry games this week...) "We just have to find our form again. The issue is not who we play, the issue is us finding our form. That's what the issue is right now."
(On the roster turnover due to International duty...) "It doesn't help. It doesn't help, just makes it a little bit harder, especially when you're struggling right now. So you have that and Zach Scott out for two games on cards, so you just have to juggle it. It is what it is. Every team has to go through the same thing."
(On the effort of his team...) "I thought we continued to fight. I didn't think the team gave up. Unless you thought the team gave up. I thought in the second half we continued to fight, we continued to push. DeAndre [Yedlin] was in, should have had a goal. Lamar [Neagle] is backing up for a ball that Oba [Martins] stepped into-that could have been a goal, as well. It's a little bit the same as it was in Colorado, we pushed and we created chances. You look at the stats-how many shots we had, how many shots they had-it's not close."
(On if Michael Gspurning is having problems...) "We're all having problems. I'm not going to single out Michael or single out anybody. There's nobody that's coming up with plays right now. We need to make plays."
(On the play of Kekuta Manneh...) "He did well, he scored [three] goals. You don't take anything away from their effort. I thought his running off the ball was good. They shifted into a 4-4-2, but again we gave them opportunities."
Mauro Rosales - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On tonight's loss...) "Just upset about the result. Can't happen again, two in a row. Unacceptable. We have to keep fighting and stay alive [with] everything we have. To accomplish we still have to make the points to qualify to be first in the conference. We can do it, we know the team has to step up and just be the guys we were the past games, not the last two. Just very disappointed, feel sorry for the fans that's always there supporting us. We couldn't give to them what they need, what they deserve today-the Cascadia Cup. This is disappointing, but have to move forward. It's a game and things can happen. They have a good team, they have good players, and today we weren't available to stop them. We have to move forward. Now we can do anything, now we have a very important game-it's a derby, besides everything that we are playing for. The team has to step up, there's no other way. Just step up and try our best to accomplish our goals."
Steve Zakuani - Sounders FC Midfielder
(On his return from injury...) "I wasn't really thinking of [my return]. When I came into the game we were 3-1 down, so I was just thinking like every other player on the pitch on our team-just trying to find a way back into the game. There was no nostalgia, it was nothing about my first game back. It was just about trying to come in and try to give the team a lift. Obviously we felt short. Like every other player in this group, I'm just focused now on Sunday, trying to put this behind us as quickly as possible."
Michael Gspurning - Sounders FC Goalkeeper
(On his performance...) "I feel like the rest of the team-horrible. I'm sorry about my team for the last goal because that was clearly my fault. It just wasn't fun the last few games."
(On areas to improve...) "We're not tight enough. It's now so many things-I can talk half an hour here. As a whole group, we've failed in both games."
Clint Dempsey - Sounders FC Forward
(On improving as a team and individually...) "All you can do is grind, work as hard as you can. Try to make sure you're being the best player you can be and try to help the team out. I've been hurt so I haven't been able impact the games on the field. Tonight is the first 45 minutes I've had in a while. For me it was just about going out there and seeing where I was fitness-wise. There's some stuff I still need to work on. I was happy coming away from the game with no injuries, after having a strain in the hamstring, but all I can do is work hard in training and prepare myself to be the best I can be for the team. It's the best thing I can do to help the team out."
(On going into the game while being behind...) "It's fine to go into the game [while losing] and try to turn things around, but as soon as I got into the game we conceded a goal. You can't win games the way we conceded goals like we did tonight."
(On this recent rough patch...) "It is what it is. Everything has to do with players getting injured and going through difficult times in a season. It's not all going to be ups-there's going to be some downs. Hopefully it's what we need to get right and make sure we have a good push in the next three games and make sure we get into playoffs and do well.
(On the match against Portland...) "The next game is the most important, always. We got to start winning. We got to get a win if we want to get to playoffs, so that's the focus."
Martin Rennie - Vancouver Head Coach
(On his impressions of the game...) "Well you know it was a phenomenal game and night for Vancouver Whitecaps fans to remember for a very long time. I think we played a great game tonight. We played some great stuff, kept good possession of the ball, [and] moved the ball well in a tough environment to come to against our biggest rival. I'm really proud of the players. They worked extremely hard and took their chances when they came along."
(On whether he saw the outcome of tonight's game coming...) "I was hoping, yeah. I was hoping so. We needed that tonight. These players - I think people don't believe in them as much as they should and I think the most important thing is that the players are really believing in themselves and that will encourage their confidence even more and build their belief even more. Tonight was a really good night for us and we'll enjoy that and then we have to then get focused on the next game."
(On Kekuta Manneh's hattrick...) "It's what we were hoping for. We kind of joked before that you're never exactly sure what you're going to get with an 18-year-old, but he's unbelievably talented and he's someone we're really proud of and we're really glad to have him on our team. He's just showed what he can do tonight and, obviously with young players, you're not always going to get that consistent level of performance. But you know, we did actually talk about it before that if he showed up, he could make a huge impact on the game and he did."
(On whether this is the biggest win for him as coach of the Whitecaps...) "I think so. I mean, we've actually scored seven goals in our last two away games, so both the last away games have been very good, but that's certainly up there, especially coming to Seattle, which is a great club and we've got a lot of respect for them, so I think getting a win like that is huge for us."
(On how much tonight's win helps his team's confidence...) "I think it helps us a lot. I think the first thing is we've still got a good chance and that's important. I think the second thing is that whenever you play a game like that - and I think on Sunday we played really well, too, and [Goalkeeper Donovan] Ricketts came up really big for them - but I think the last couple of games we've played really well, and that gives confidence and we'll go for it with everything we've got in the next game too."
(On currently being in first place in the Cascadia Cup...) "Obviously that's a little bit out of our hands, because Seattle's got Portland on the weekend, but it's nice to be in the position we're in at the moment and it would be a huge thing for us if we could end up winning the Cascadia Cup. We've done all we could, especially tonight, so it would be nice to get our hands on that, if we could."
(On Kekuta Manneh's development this season...) "He's 18 years old. We're just trying to develop him. He's had games where he's done well and games where he hasn't done well, but he's coming along. He's got unbelievable talent. We just have to nurture it properly, but tonight he was fantastic."
(On Manneh's poise during the game...) "He's got that pace as well. Once he gets away, there's no way anyone is going to catch him. But what he's got, which other players with pace don't have, is the ability to slow down and be calm. He finished his chances really well tonight. I think he took every chance he had."
(On Nigel Reo-Coker...) "Yeah, that was great. He hit it so hard [Gspurning] couldn't save it. Yeah, it was great. He works so hard for our team. He doesn't always get goals or assists, but I think he brings other things, and tonight he got a goal. I'm really proud of all the players. They've been working extremely hard and we'll have to continue to do that."
(On whether the upcoming 10-day break in their schedule is helpful...) "I think it's nice to have a little break. I mean, obviously we come up to a big game. They have a break as well, I think, so it doesn't really make too much of a difference."
(On Daigo Kobayashi's performance...) "I think he's done well, probably his best couple of games. He still needs to get fitter to give us that for 90 minutes, but I think he did well there. We're pleased with his contribution and everybody's, and really happy with tonight and looking forward to the next one."
(On his goalkeeper David Ousted...) "I think he had a very big game. He made a couple of really, really important saves. I think he's done really well for us. I think it takes time for players to settle in and get used to a new country, and a new league and everything else, but I think he's done very well with that adaptation and I think he will do extremely well for the Whitecaps."
(On why the midfield is working better with the current formation...) "Well, there's just more options. People are picking up different positions, difficult positions to mark and I think that's worked out quite well for us. I think with the players we've got, it might be a better way to go."
Kekuta Manneh - Vancouver Forward
(On the feel before the game...) "I always have this feeling about the game, that I'm going to make an impact no matter how much time I play-if I start or I come from the bench. I'm always looking to make an impact in the game. [...] I was unlucky in previous games-hit posts and then the goalies make saves-but this time I was lucky to get goals."
(On his finishing...) "We've been working at practice every single day, after practice doing extra finishing with [goalkeeper coach Marius Rovde and assistant coach Paul Ritchie], so we've been working on it every single day. It paid off today."
(On looking calm on all three goals...) "I'm more nervous in this interview than the game I will say but these are the types of games that I look forward to play in. These are the games we dream to play, for the playoffs in front of this crowd. It's just amazing. All we can do is get excited and play the game."
(On being comfortable playing with Daigo Kobayashi...) "He's a good player. He's smart, too. He has great vision. We have a really good relationship off the field as well. We go out to eat and all that stuff, so we just feel comfortable."
David Ousted - Vancouver Goalkeeper
(On the win...) "It's big for both the players and especially for the fans. It was a great atmosphere today and it was great to see all those people that drove here from Vancouver. Well, almost a perfect game."
(On never winning here before...) "I heard about it and of course that was something we wanted to come here prove to people that we could win anywhere and we can win here. We got that win today and it was important for the club and especially the fans, like I said."
(On his save before Seattle scored its first goal...) "We got caught a little bit on a counter and he takes a quick throw in, and I just corner him and close him down and make sure that he couldn't get by me."
Jay DeMerit - Vancouver Defender
(On the win...) "I think we proved today that we can both give a good fight but also there's some ability in the team to keep it rolling and score some good goals. It's really important now to not rest too much on this and we need to go on to Colorado and prove to ourselves and everybody that we can go there and win. It would mean a lot for the club."
(On the upcoming break...) "It's nice to have two days off and enjoy this win for a few days and then get back to training and then looking at Colorado and keeping ourselves focused on what the main focus is here, and that's pushing our way into the playoffs."