This Seattle Sounders team has managed as dramatic and crazy a turnaround as fans could have hoped since July. And this win — on the road, without Clint Dempsey, without Nicolas Lodeiro, on short rest, after giving up the first goal — has really put an exclamation point on an amazing run. Seattle has surged up to 5th in the West, with 3 games left to potentially move higher (of course, that’s easy to say, and there’s a long way to go).
If last week made the playoffs feel like a solid bet, this win makes it pretty safe to go all in.
The Sounders are 13-13-5, one point out of 4th with 44 points, with a game in hand on Real Salt Lake.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 - Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Venue: BC Place
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Assistants: Frank Anderson, Peter Balciunas
Fourth Official: Juan Guzman
Weather: Sunny and 59 degrees
VAN - Pedro Morales (penalty) 25'
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (Joevin Jones) 39'
SEA - Brad Evans (penalty) 81'
VAN - Giles Barnes (caution) 32'
SEA - Oniel Fisher (caution) 46'
VAN - Pedro Morales (ejection) 53'
VAN - Blas Perez (caution) 80'
SEA - Brad Evans (ejection) 84'
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Román Torres, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso - captain, Cristian Roldan, Alvaro Fernandez (Oniel Fisher 9') (Brad Evans 65'), Herculez Gomez, Erik Friberg (Nelson Valdez 79'); Jordan Morris
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Oalex Anderson, Zach Scott, Aaron Kovar
Total shots: 11 (Alonso, 3)
Shots on goal: 6 (6 players, 1)
Fouls: 9 (Gomez/Fisher, 2)
Offside: 2 (Jones/Morris, 1)
Corner-kicks: 4 (Gomez, 4)
Saves: 1 (Frei, 1)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC - David Ousted; Jordan Smith (Blas Perez 76'), David Edgar, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba (Nicolas Mezquida 82'), Pedro Morales - captain, Alphonso Davies, Christian Bolanos, Giles Barnes (Andrew Jacobson 66'); Erik Hurtado
Substitutes not used: Marcel de Jong, Paolo Tornaghi, Masato Kudo, Cristian Techera
Total shots: 15 (Davies, 4)
Shots on goal: 4 (Davies, 2)
Fouls: 9 (Harvey, 4)
Offside: 1 (Hurtado, 1)
Corner-kicks: 3 (Bolanos, 3)
Saves: 4 (Ousted, 4)
SEATTLE SOUNDERS FC HEAD COACH BRIAN SCHMETZER
On if this was how he drew it up:
"There was a lot of deviations. The unfortunate thing was Andreas did something in training yesterday, he couldn’t quite overcome it. He wanted to play, but we decided that against the team tonight we needed all the players to be at 100 per cent. Then you know Flaco’s [Alvaro Fernandez] unfortunate hamstring strain, that set us back a little bit, but a win is a win. The guys are in a good mood, good spirits and again credit to them, they found a way to win after taking the first goal."
On the 19 minutes played by Brad Evans:
"Well we haven’t looked at the film yet as far as the red card is concerned, but Brad scored the winning goal, so that’s success. He came on the field and they were down a guy so actually it was a good way to kind of ease Brad back into the mix, but credit to him, he’s taken a lot of penalties for us under pressure situations, this was a pressure situation, and credit to Brad for coming through."
On playing without Lodeiro and Ivanschitz:
"Well the overall team concept which we’ve been preaching for a long time now, just shows that it can work. I told the guys before the game that it didn’t matter to me if Lodeiro is gone, Dempsey is gone. Guys have step up, guys just have to come in and do their jobs. So what you saw today was a guy like Herculez Gomez who came in today and did a really nice job. You saw Erik Friberg, who hadn’t started in quite some time come in and do a really nice job. He had Ozzie [Osvaldo Alonso] and Cristian [Roldan], again you’re looking at that last run that Cristian makes in towards the corner flag when Perez has to chase him 60 yards and get fouled, I mean those guys know how to play. And yes we missed Clint and yes we missed Nico, but again they’re strong enough as a group that they found a way to win."
On the end of the first half:
"They took it to us those last 10 to 15 of the first half, I think they were on top of us. What we had started the game with was a 4-1-4-1 [formation], and then at halftime we switched back to our 4-2-3-1. That seemed to settle us down a little bit. It helped us, I think we’re just a little bit more comfortable playing that way. So in that sense the matchups that we tried to do in the beginning of the game, we pushed those aside and just said hey look let’s just play how we want to play, and I think that helped."
On if red cards hurt the selling of the game:
"That might be a topic for a different day, but I’ll answer it as briefly and succinctly as I can. The game is the game, and things happen. Referees don’t have an easy job. It is a physical game, guys get heated. I just think the referees don’t want to make the game uneven, don’t want to call it, but if it’s there then they have to. Then after the game is over, then people can dissect was it a red, was it not a red. Yes it took some of the sting out of the Whitecaps, for sure. But as far as we’re concerned, we just take what the game gives us and we control ourselves and our team and we leave the referees, the field conditions. We just play."
On being in fourth with three games left:
"We’re going to enjoy tonight, because it was a hard fought match at the end of a massive week for our club. So we’re going to enjoy this moment, and then we’re going to work on Houston, and all of our focus will go to Houston. When that game is put to bed, then we’ll focus on the next match in Dallas. But we have to – same old coachs’ story – we’re going to take each game, one game at a time. Where we end up in the standings will take care of itself if we keep playing like this and continue to have the resolve to play like this."
On the turnaround since he took over:
"I’ve been pretty consistent with the story of, I’ve given them ownership of the team. That is something that they believe in. I’ve gotten traction with that. Even when we go down a goal here, or in LA, they still feel they have the belief in themselves and in their teammates that they can come back and make games competitive. Instilling that belief in the group, I can say it wasn’t that difficult because it’s a proud group in there, it’s a bunch of competitive guys in there. From the Brad Evans tonight, from Ozzie tonight – who’s been a tremendous captain for me –Chad Marshalls – good pro – [and] Stefan Frei, who had another big performance tonight. We had some guys who came on the field tonight who were dinged up, and they did their job. Joevin Jones has been playing great on a broken toe. So I think the whole group mentality is a testament to us playing well in these situations."
MIDFIELDER BRAD EVANS
Thoughts on the match:
"Another hard fought win. Third game in eight days for the boys, two on the road, one at home [and] we come up with nine points. I can’t say enough about the guys. It’s difficult, it’s only been a couple of times in club history, so I’d say it was extremely successful."
On the penalty kick:
"I saw him go to the bench, I didn’t know if he was asking which way I normally go and wanted some insight, so I changed it at the last second and went the other way. He dove where I normally go. I saw him move a little bit early and just picked a different corner and put it away."
On the red card:
"Corner kick comes in, Edgar’s pulling me back, it’s definitely a PK. So I get up, he says it’s not, he leans in and puts his head on mine. If you look at the replay and my mouth I said "you can’t do that", I give him a head gesture, never made contact with him – if I had made contact with him, I think the whole stadium would have absolutely freaked out, he would have gone down in heaps. But he doesn’t, he barely even turns around and asks for a red card, and sure enough Salazar brings a card out of his pocket."
On if he hopes it gets rescinded:
"Of course. There’s no blood, there’s no foul. The replay that I saw was exactly what I thought, so it is what it is at this point."
FORWARD HERCULEZ GOMEZ
Thoughts on the match:
"No matter how you paint it, how you get it done, it’s a huge help for us the way everything has gone our way this weekend. So proud of the performance from the boys and outstanding performance from everybody. We went down a goal and you can hang your head, or you can get back up and keep fighting and that’s what we did."
On three wins in eight days:
"Sometimes it’s best to just keep that momentum going. You don’t want to stop, and you don’t want that bye week I guess. We want to keep that good play going. I think everybody here knows what we’re fighting for. Nobody here believed we were the worst team when we were in that slump, and nobody here thinks we’re the best team now. We’re even-keeled and we just want to do our job."
On his personal performance:
"I felt fine. It’s all about opportunities and being ready for these opportunities. I found out pretty close to game time that I was actually a possibility and I was chomping at the bit for it so I’m just happy that I could help the team."
VANCOUVER WHITECAPS FC HEAD COACH CARL ROBINSON
On Morales’ red card:
"Do you want me to tell you the brutal truth? I think at key moment in the game – and it was a good game between two good teams – and you have to be sure, you have to be 100 per cent correct, and I just think that at that moment the red card was issued within two seconds, three seconds, and he didn’t give himself time to think because I think if you look back on it than you’d get that one wrong."
On the season:
"Listen, it’s been a tough year, we know that. I can’t fault the guys’ efforts and work. You know I really, really enjoyed watching them in the first 45 minutes, I thought it was some excellent stuff. I think this year has been difficult for a number of reasons and the first 45 minutes probably summed it up, you know we were one goal ahead and we couldn’t get the second goal which we probably deserved and Seattle hung around and managed to get a goal from our mistake. We weren’t doing our jobs well enough defensively and we allowed them back in the game and when you allow good teams back in the game then they can hurt you and that’s what they did."
On a local rival ending playoff hopes:
"Disappointed that we weren’t able to carry on from last year. We’re honest enough – the club is an honest club, I’m an honest manager, my players are an honest group of lads as well – we haven’t been good enough, not just one game, we haven’t been good enough across the board. We have to accept that and take responsibility for that, and I will. But I’ll get back to work and I’ll work even harder to try and find out the solutions to the problems that I’ve faced this year, whether it’s scoring goals or conceding goals or too many red cards. That’s my job to do, and I’ll do it."
CENTRE BACK DAVID EDGAR
Thoughts on the match:
"[It was] disappointing not to go in one or two up, to be honest. Not a very good goal to give away, in terms of [us being] totally on top. And then some decisions in the second half didn’t go our way, and it changes games."
On what he saw on Pedro’s red card:
"I saw absolutely nothing. I didn’t see a reaction from their team, I didn’t see a reaction from our team, I didn’t even see the boy on the ground – if he was on the ground. I haven’t seen it back, I’ll have to look at it and see from there."
On what happened with Brad Evans:
"He thought I pulled him down for a penalty, I told him to get up, and he took whatever to it. He put his head towards me and I didn’t react. The referee was waiting to send someone off there, and it wasn’t going to be me."
On this game being fitting of the season:
"I think it totally sums it up in terms of the decisions and the – you can’t say luck because I believe we create our own luck – things just didn’t go our way. It was totally frustrating."
On if red card decisions deflate a player:
"Massively. I mean it’s 22 men out there, in a derby, let the game play. That’s what I think. There was tackles going in, there was headers. Then to see a straight red, from what I saw was out of nowhere. But again, I haven’t seen it back."
On what it does to the psyche of players:
"Well that’s two games on the spin now where we’ve had to come back from [having] 10 men, and play with 10 men for a long stint of the game, and it’s deflating. I mean you want to keep all your players on the pitch, and that’s our captain that’s been sent off. I think we’re totally in the game, the penalty comes in after that and we’re under the cosh. Like you say, it is deflating."
On officiating being different than in England:
"It’s massively different. I’m going to have to, sort of, keep my temper in check. But you’re just going to have to get on with the decisions because they’re going to be made, good or bad. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned to deal with it better, but when some of them are bad you don’t know what to do."
On the last two games:
"We’re not going to go out with a whimper. We’re going to have to go out and show that we’re building something for next season now. There shouldn’t be any pressure on people’s shoulders [now], if people were feeling pressure. Just go out there and show these fans what they’re coming to watch next season, because I feel they deserve it and as a club we deserve it."
GOALKEEPER DAVID OUSTED
On if this match sums up the season:
"It’s a microcosm of what this season has been. Lot of effort put in there. Not able to capitalize on our good periods, and some calls at key moments that have gone against us. I haven’t seen them in slow motion yet, but I believe again we get a bad call today. But that’s how it is. At the end of the day, we’re not looking for excuses. We haven’t been good enough."
On his reaction after the match:
"I was devastated because I knew it meant we weren’t going to be in the playoffs. I was devastated for this team, for this club, but especially for the fans. It’s been a lot of heartbreak for all of us this year, especially for the fans. They’ve turned out every time and supported us, and I’m gutted for them that we weren’t able to perform to our levels this year and give them what they deserve."
On not having 11 versus 11 for 90 minutes:
"It’s really annoying that we’re not able to go up against the other team 11v11 and simply go toe-to-toe. I think when we went toe-to-toe with them today, especially in the first half, we were the better team. But decisions like that just influence the game in a way that you don’t have any influence on. Unfortunately today I think it changed the game for us."
On the final two matches:
"In my world we go in and try to give these fans what they want – wins. We need to approach it in the same sense that we would if we were right on the cusp. I want to go win. I want to go and give the fans what they deserve in these last two games, and that’s victories."