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Sounders vs. Whitecaps, recap: Hot and bothered

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The Sounders drew 2-2 against Vancouver on a scorching Saturday evening.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

SEATTLE — Soccer’s weird sometimes. The Seattle Sounders drew 2-2 against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps in what looked a lot like a Concacaf Champions League match throughout much of the second half. Going into the game the Sounders were top of the Supporters’ Shield race, while the Whitecaps were at the bottom of the Western Conference tied for points with FC Dallas with 7 through 9 games. The Sounders took the lead late in the first half, but Vancouver had jumped out in front just over 10 minutes into the second half after some frustrating plays from the back line and goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland. Seattle salvaged a point from this one thanks to a fantastic goal from Jimmy Medranda, but this is likely a result with which the team and fans alike will be frustrated.

Seattle created plenty of chances to come away with more than one point, especially against one of the worst teams in the league. All of that kind of goes out the window when it’s a rivalry match, even if Seattle-Vancouver isn’t exactly Seattle-Portland. To add to the difficulty level of this one, the temperature was likely a factor. If you’ve been melting in your apartment this weekend, imagine having to run around for 90 minutes on a turf field. It’s not ideal. Even Cristian Roldan seemed to be wilting under the heat as the second half progressed.

Ultimately a draw isn’t the end of the world. The Sounders are still undefeated, and at least until the New England Revolution play Dallas on Sunday they’re still leading the Shield race. They’ve even got a couple points on Sporting Kansas City and a game in hand at the top of the Western Conference. The mistakes today were easily solved going forward, and they’ve got some time to sort them out before they travel to face the Colorado Rapids on the Fourth of July.

Key moments

2’ — The Sounders get things going early with a ball from Cristian Roldan that finds Will Bruin, but Bruin’s not able to redirect the header.

22’ — Lucas Cavallini clears C. Roldan out on the end line and sees yellow for it. A little kerfuffle follows, with Atencio chirping at the striker. Yeimar Gómez Andrade connects with the ensuing free kick from João Paulo, but his header goes over the goal.

40’ — Raúl Ruidíaz opens the scoring after a cutback from Brad Smith, but a share of the credit has to go to Josh Atencio who played the wingback in behind the defense after starting the play with a great tackle to win possession. 1-0

45’ +3 — Déiber Caicedo was in 1-v-1 with Stefan Cleveland, poised to even the score with the last kick of the half, but Cleveland was more than up to the challenge. Cleveland’s left-footed kick save absolves his defense’s sins and maintains the lead.

49’ — Vancouver evens it up. Stefan Cleveland tried to come out and clear the danger, but whiffs and Cristian Dajome finishes on an open net. 1-1

56’ — Vancouver takes a 2-1 lead after a weird sequence in the box. 1-2

71’ — Jimmy Medranda hammers the ball home from the top of the box off of a corner kick to level the score. 2-2

Quick thoughts

Home troubles: The Sounders have now taken 6 points from their last 4 home games. That’s not terrible, but it’s frustrating. Worst of all, the three games they’ve drawn have all come against teams that on paper — admittedly not where the actual games are played — the Sounders should be beating, with all three positioned outside the playoffs. Sports are hard, and MLS is a league of chaos if nothing else. Whatever the problem may be, the Sounders are going to need to start getting wins from these games because it’s probably not sustainable to keep winning on the road at the rate they have been.

Playing the kids: Seattle is a team that’s not going to play young players simply for the sake of playing young players, or because they want to be able to sell them and generate a profit. If one of the young guys in the squad makes it onto the field it’s because they’ve earned their place and the coaches believe they will give the team a good chance of getting a result. Josh Atencio started in midfield alongside João Paulo and Cristian Roldan for the first time since his star turn in the opening pair of games of the season, having missed seven games to injury. He may not have been quite at those same heights, but he looked every bit an MLS player. Danny Leyva replaced Atencio just after the hour mark and did as much as he could to show that he’s still the talented player who was forcing his way into the lineup in 2019 and 2020 before missing much of last year to injury. Both guys played important roles in the two goals the Sounders scored, with Atencio being credited with his first MLS assist. Performances like this are why Brian Schmetzer and his staff trust the young guys, and are a good reason to be excited about the club’s future.

Rampant Raúl: Okay, “Rampant Raúl” maybe isn’t accurate, but it’s alliterative and that’s fun. So is Raúl Ruidíaz. He’s got 9 goals through 11 games, now 1 behind Chicharito in the race for the Golden Boot. Strangely enough, for all his goals, it doesn’t feel like he’s really gone on a run of dominance yet. Looking back, even when he’s been scoring, outside of the playoffs it’s never really felt like Ruidíaz has caught fire in a Sounders jersey. Maybe that’s because of how he gets his goals, and it doesn’t really mean anything, but it’s something to think about. With Ruidíaz missing out on the Copa America, he could potentially play in more matches than any prior season for Seattle, and that probably means he’ll be in the golden boot conversation until the end. Imagine if he does go on a run. That could be really fun!

Did you see that?!?

That’s one heck of a first goal for the club.

He said what?!?

One stat to tell the tale

37-44 — It’s not often that you see the Sounders lose the duels contest. Seattle won 37 duels to Vancouver’s 44, which likely points to some of the trouble Seattle had throughout the evening.


Poll

Man of the match

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    Stefan Cleveland
    (8 votes)
  • 37%
    João Paulo
    (220 votes)
  • 10%
    Raúl Ruidíaz
    (62 votes)
  • 51%
    Jimmy Medranda
    (304 votes)
594 votes total Vote Now