Soccer can be a funny sport. A few days after grinding out a win despite some pretty poor play, the Seattle Sounders handed back some points by outplaying the Vancouver Whitecaps in a 2-0 loss on Saturday.
I suppose if you want to be really philosophical about it, you could say the Sounders probably only "deserved" a couple ties so getting three points is actually the preferable outcome. Of course, that shouldn't make you feel any better.
There was some encouraging signs. The 16 shots included nine inside the penalty area and they forced Brad Knighton into seven saves. I'd hesitate to say the Sounders were dominant, but they were the better team in every aspect except finishing. That will be of little consolation, though, after losing to the Whitecaps for the first time in their MLS history.
The Sounders are now 16 matches in their season, sitting on 24 points. It's not a horrible place to be, as winning their games in hand puts them among the conference leaders. But it's hard to shake the sense that something is not right. Maybe it can be chalked up to still not really knowing how good this team is based on the fact that they still haven't played for any extended period with their genuine "A" lineup. The bigger problem may be in the sensation that they still don't know what their "A" lineup is.
Is Lamar Neagle in this "A" lineup? Is Shalrie Joseph? Are Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins really the ideal forward tandem? These are questions that would be nice to have answered before they are deep into the second half of the season.
VAN - Kenny Miller (Corey Hertzog) 4'
VAN - Darren Mattocks (Gershon Koffie, Brad Knighton) 79'
Seattle Sounders FC - Michael Gspurning, DeAndre Yedlin, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Djimi Traore, Leo Gonzalez (DeAndre Yedlin 79), Brad Evans, Servando Carrasco, Shalrie Joseph, Lamar Neagle (Mauro Rosales 74), Eddie Johnson, Obafemi Martins.
Substitutes Not Used: Marcus Hahnemann, Pat Ianni, Marc Burch, Andy Rose, David Estrada.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Martins 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Johnson 3); FOULS: 9 (Neagle 3); OFFSIDE: 2 (Johnson 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Neagle 2); SAVES: 2 (Gspurning 2).
Vancouver Whitecaps FC - Brad Knighton, Young-Pyo Lee, Brad Rusin, Johnny Leveron, Jordan Harvey, Nigel Reo-Coker, Jun Marques Davidson, Gershon Koffie, Corey Hertzog (Daigo Kobayashi 64), Camilo Sanvezzo (Darren Mattocks 76), Kenny Miller (Matt Watson 90+4).
Substitutes Not Used: Joe Cannon, Kekuta Manneh, Tommy Heinemann, Greg Klazura.
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Mattocks 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Mattocks 2); FOULS: 11 (Reo-Coker 3); OFFSIDE: 4 (4 players, 1); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Camilo 4); SAVES: 7 (Knighton 7).
SEA - Lamar Neagle (caution) 61'
SEA - Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 90'
Referee: Hilario Grajeda
Referee's Assistants: Bill Dittmer, Baboucarr Jallow
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Game: 1:53
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC
HEAD COACH SIGI SCHMID:
On his team's performance:
"We had opportunities, we should have finished some of those opportunities. Knighton came up with some big saves in goal to keep them in it and then the last 10 minutes of the game we're pushing forward trying to get it and that's probably when they got the majority of their shots. I'm not displeased with what we created or how we played."
On whether that was the best goalkeeping performance Sounders FC have faced this season:
"Yeah probably. You always remember the last one so this is the one that we'll remember. Our finishing needs to be a little bit sharper and then we don't make the goalkeeper look as good. He came up with some big saves; he reacted well to the one off the corner from Zach, he got his toe on the other one. Credit to him."
On whether injuries affected the starting lineup:
"We didn't think Alonso was quite ready so our feeling with Alonso was to make sure he was 100% ready and we think that'll be the case next week. Yedlin, we didn't feel he could go much beyond 60 so we decided to bring him off the bench. One of my beliefs is that you don't change your back four in a tight game; I went against my own principle and we took a goal right away from that so I've got to stick with my principles."
On whether he could have made tactical changes during the match:
"I thought we played alright. There was almost a situation where sometimes you feel like you need to make a change in a game and maybe we weren't creating as many chances in that 60-70 minute mark but on the whole we were still carrying the game, we were still creating chances so there probably really wasn't a necessity to change."
On losing to Whitecaps FC for the first time:
"Even at 2-0 we thought that we'd be capable of coming back, for sure at 1-0 we felt we could come back. All good things come to an end and so obviously it came to an end today.
I thought we had some good combination play up front, I thought we put ourselves in some very dangerous spots. The quality of our crossing still needs to be better, I think there were some good situations we put ourselves in and that's something we've got to get back to as well."
STRIKER LAMAR NEAGLE:
On his team's inability to score:
"It's just one of those games where we had a bunch of chances and they literally have one chance at the beginning and finish it. I had like six or seven chances alone and I can't finish; it's just one of those games."
On taking positives from the defeat:
"You do [take things out of the match], we got good build up play but if you can't finish then it doesn't matter how good you play. It's all about the result in the end and we didn't get it so it's very disappointing for us."
On Brad Knighton's goalkeeping performance:
"He did a good job but we still had way too many chances to not score one goal. He did well, he had a good game. He came out and pressured us at the right times but still; I had two chances and I should have both of them scored."
MIDFIELDER BRAD EVANS
On the frustration of losing to Cascadia rivals:
"You see both sides of it, that's why it's a great sport and that's why it's one of the worst sports, it's that feeling you get coming out of the locker room, thought you did everything you could and just couldn't put the ball in the back of the net."
On what more Seattle could've done to win the match:
"We couldn't have created any more chances, we had the chances we just didn't finish them so bottom line is finish your chances but also keep it tight in the defence. Two bouncing balls cost us the game. We got scored on early, now you're chasing; push guys forward and get scored on late, that's the difficult part of it."
On his side's strategy:
"If you look at our chances, it's the most we've created all season, we had a game plan and I thought we stuck to it well. With their team, they have very good players and players that have played at the highest level . At the end of the day, it'll be those two long balls that stick out. Do we have to be a little more cautious and let them build? I don't think we want to let them build because their players are so skilled in the midfield and they caught us twice so that's the price that we pay."
MIDFIELDER SHALRIE JOSEPH
On the team's good performance despite the loss:
"At the end of the day we lost, that's a heartbreaking feeling. We didn't get the result that I think we deserved. We definitely played better than we have in the last couple of games. We created chances, we got our creative guys on the ball, got enough chances but we just weren't able to finish; next week I'm sure we'll do better with those chances if we get them again."
On Sounders FC creating chances:
"The guys were getting me the ball in the attacking spots. I always look to get everybody involved and try to create chances. With Eddie and Oba [Obafemi Martins] you just got to slide them in and play their feet and they're so comfortable on the ball, once you get them the ball they'll score, they'll get a shot on goal; I expect better from them next week. Hopefully we can keep playing like we did tonight but get results at the end of the day."
On the team's current form:
"The team's playing great. At the end of the day you got to win games like that. If we put away those chances in the first half, it's a different story."
HEAD COACH MARTIN RENNIE:
Thoughts on the historic win:
"What an exciting game it was and exciting night. As soon as I came out for the start of the game, the stadium was already filled with atmosphere. I've never seen anything like it in BC Place. The players responded really well to it. I'm really pleased for them to get that result tonight. It's been disappointing for us not have beaten Seattle until now, but we've been playing really well recently, been getting good results scoring goals and tonight we defended well. And I think Brad Knighton came out with a couple big, really important saves that were crucial in the game...We got the goal from Darren that really sealed the game for us. We were quite comfortable in the end, so it was a huge win and it was one we really wanted to give to our fans."
On the importance of this win for the club:
"Driving through Vancouver, [seeing] all the Whitecaps shirts throughout the place, you could tell what this club is really starting to mean to people here, and it's in people's hearts. So I think a win like that tonight, against a rival, is significant and I think it's a big win for the club."
On the confidence the team is showing:
"We're building a team and I keep trying to say that it takes time. But I feel like, now we're at a point where players are starting to realize that they're good players on a very good team and we can compete with anyone. And we're playing with much more confidence and we're going forward more and creating more chances, being more dangerous. When you're a threat to score goals that helps you defend as well... I think that 6 wins in our last 9 games, 2 ties in those games, you know including tonight...our next games are at home, so we're playing with confidence, we're in good form and we really need to keep working at it and keep getting better."
On Brad Knighton keeping the number one ‘keeper spot:
"If Brad's playing [well], he's going to be in goal and that was one of the best performances I've seen from him. Tonight was - I've coached him for a few years now - and I thought tonight he was fantastic...These last few games he's really grown as a goalkeeper and become much more aggressive, he's come off his line much more quickly, shutting down the angles far faster. And again tonight he was a very important player...He knows there's competition for that place, so it brings the best out in everybody."
On Kenny Miller's attacking style & Hertzog's assist:
"He's a top player, he's played at the highest level and he's scored a lot of goals in his career. He's highly regarded by many people who are coaching and playing at the highest level...His ability to move in the box is something that he brings to our team, and I think in the last couple of games we've seen how big a difference he can make."
On Darren Mattocks' performance tonight:
"You saw once he came on...he scored a great goal. So that was very encouraging for him and he worked extremely hard to close people down, which is a big part of playing in our team."
GOALKEEPER BRAD KNIGHTON:
Thoughts on the result:
"Obviously we've been waiting for that win for a long time here in Vancouver. It's just another step in the right direction for us. I don't care about the shutout, just as long as we win. That's what I'm here for is to make saves, get points, and move up the table and I hope I can continue to do that."
Thoughts on his performance:
"That's the best game I've ever played, by far, hands down. I'm motivated every game, I don't want to be dropped from a team. It's my job to put in performances like that to make him (Rennie) think twice about taking me out of the lineup. It's been nice to have him (David Ousted) here because it's going to push me and make me better and that's what you want in any position. You want the competition in every spot and bringing David here is going to do that. What you've seen from the two weeks that he's been here is that it's changed my mentality and this is probably the best I've ever played."
STRIKER DARREN MATTOCKS:
On his second half cameo:
"Coming on in the second half the appreciation from the fans was amazing so I felt really good scoring a goal. Scoring a second goal really eased the pressure on the team so it's nice to get the three points against them for the first time in the club's history, it's a real boost."
Thoughts on his goal:
"I saw Brad make a really long punt and Gersh put a flick on and there's no one in this league who is going to catch me so when I saw the opportunity I just put it over his hands and in the back of the net."
STRIKER KENNY MILLER:
Thoughts on the win:
"Obviously it's massive and it's been a long time coming. I'm delighted for the players, coaches, and fans, more importantly it puts us three [more] points ahead of Seattle and hopefully cements us in a playoff position. The start of a derby game can always be a bit hectic so it does settle us down a little bit when we went ahead right away. Seattle's a good team, and they're going to have opportunities with the likes of Eddie Johnson and Obafemi Martins up front but the fact we've kept them at bay today is a real plus for us."
Thoughts on Darren Mattocks' performance:
"I'm delighted for him, it's been a hard few months for him and obviously he's found himself out of the team and after the season he's had last year he expected it to be different for him. We've seen flashes throughout the season of what Darren can bring and the electric pace that he's got allowed him to have multiple chances tonight. Hopefully that will kick him on and we can see the best of him this year."