Like they have in so many of their previous wins, the Seattle Sounders weren’t all that convincing against the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. There were times when the Whitecaps were downright dominant and the Sounders looked as though they might finally break. But in the end, Seattle was again victorious. Their 2-1 win over the Whitecaps was their ninth straight, clinched the Cascadia Cup, and moved them into fifth in the Western Conference playoff race.
The offense was provided by Raúl Ruidíaz, who scored a pair of goals in the first half. The Whitecaps got their goal in first-half stoppage time, but had numerous other opportunities to score.
The first big chance came in the 11th minute and turned out to be illustrative of the Whitecaps’ evening. Kei Kamara did a great job winning a ball into the box and knocked it down perfectly for Nicolas Mezquida, who was one-on-one with Stefan Frei. The chance was so good that the Sounders’ broadcast displayed the goal graphic. Fortunately for the Sounders, though, the ball actually went wide.
The Sounders made the Whitecaps pay, taking the lead in the 21st minute on a well worked goal. The sequence started with Brad Smith racing down the left sideline before finding Harry Shipp at the top of the penalty area. Shipp quickly spun and pushed it along the penalty area to Cristian Roldan, who put Kelvin Leerdam into the box. Leerdam’s cross found Ruidiaz, who had made a perfect near-post run. And just like that, the Sounders had the lead.
Beautiful team goal. Great build up. Seattle 1-0 pic.twitter.com/jUfOTV0QXM— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) September 16, 2018
Around the 40th minute, Osvaldo Alonso made what seemed like a hard, but fair tackle on Alphonso Davies at the top of the penalty area. At the next stoppage, though, referee Robert Sibiga went to the monitor to give it another look. Sibiga didn’t feel as though a red card offense had been committed, but did give Alonso a yellow card and awarded a dangerous free kick.
Ozzie picks up a yellow card after the ref goes to VAR. pic.twitter.com/pKAMJJrf0t— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) September 16, 2018
After clearing the danger, the Sounders quickly scored. Under some pressure from Nicolas Lodeiro, Whitecaps defender Brett Levis put in a centering ball that Ruidíaz easily picked off. With a little stepover, he avoided goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and then could have walked it into the net. At that point, the Sounders led 2-0 and seemed well on their way to an easy win.
Just a beautiful through ball Sounders 2-0 pic.twitter.com/EDf6AMQq5l— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) September 16, 2018
The Whitecaps had other thoughts. After winning a corner on a somewhat questionable Kamara challenge on Frei, the Whitecaps pulled one back. Kamara rose high over the Sounders defense and crushed a header inside the far post.
Kamara can jump very high. pic.twitter.com/FFhoDVUlwk— Sounder At Heart (@sounderatheart) September 16, 2018
There were plenty of times when it looked like the Whitecaps might equalize, and they ultimately ended up taking 19 of their 21 shots from in or around the penalty area. But they also only put five of those on frame — the same number as the Sounders, who only had seven shots.
Nine is so fine
- The Sounders already owned the record for the longest winning streak in a non-shootout season. Now, they’ve tied that record outright, as Sporting KC had actually won nine straight between the 2011-12 seasons. With the win the Sounders also surpassed the LA Galaxy’s eight straight regulation wins, which they notched in 1996. Even including the shootout era, the only winning streaks longer than the Sounders’ current run are the Galaxy in 1997-98 (15), the Galaxy in 1996 (12), the Chicago Fire in 1998 (11) and D.C. United in 1999 (11).
Movin’ on up
- A lot of results went the Sounders’ way this week. The Timbers and Galaxy both lost, while Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas and LAFC all dropped points at home. That means the Sounders are just one point out of fourth (with two games in hand on RSL), three points out of third (with a game in hand on LAFC) and just six points out of second (with a game in hand on FC Dallas). Moving up to third or fourth would guarantee a home game in the Knock Out Round, while second place would allow them to bypass that round altogether.
- As great as this win streak is, there’s no reason to think it can’t go longer. The Sounders host the Union and visit the Galaxy in the next week. Those are, on paper, the two best teams they have remaining on their schedule. The Union will be making a cross-country trip after getting smacked by the Montreal Impact at home. The Galaxy were all but eliminated from the playoff race with a 5-3 loss to Toronto FC. The other five games are all against teams that are at least 13 points out of playoff position.
A day for the backline to forget
- If there was one negative note, it was that the backline did not have a great day defending. Kamara is one of the best target forwards in the league, but he was absolutely dominant. His goal was an absolute monster, and he hit the post on another chance while generally giving both centerbacks fits all day. Mezquida and Alphonso Davies also created plenty of problems. As bad as the Galaxy are defensively, they’ll likely finish the type of chances the Whitecaps didn’t.
George is coming home
- The Cascadia Cup may be a minor trophy in the overall picture, but it’s still a tangible piece of hardware that obviously means a ton to Sounders fans. This is just the third time during the MLS era that the Sounders have won this trophy — all three clinched, coincidentally in Vancouver — and only the fourth time they’ve won it since 2007. I’m sure the drive home will be fun.
Sleep tight, Cascadia. pic.twitter.com/r24z07glVs— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) September 16, 2018
21’ — Ruidiaz (Leerdam, Roldan)
41’ — Ruidiaz
45+4’ — Kamara (Mezquida)
Whitecaps (4-4-2): Marinovic; Levis, Henry, Waston, Nerwinski; Davies, Ghazal, Teibert, Techera; Mezquida, Kamara.
Sounders (4-2-3-1): Frei; Smith, Marshall, Kim, Leerdam; Alonso, Svensson; Shipp, Lodeiro; Roldan; Ruidíaz.
Man of the Match
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