VANCOUVER, B.C – Pacific Northwest rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders met at BC Place Stadium on Saturday afternoon for the first of 3 head to head MLS Cascadia Cup games this season. The Sounders won the Cascadia Cup last season which also features the Portland Timbers. Seattle came into this game with a 5-point lead over the 4th place Whitecaps in the MLS Western Conference. Neither team was able to make any ground as 21,000 fans witnessed an exciting 2-2 draw on a beautiful sunny day in downtown Vancouver
The Whitecaps started the game on fire while the Sounders looked flat, and shaky at the back. Omar Salgado had a chance to open the scoring for the Whitecaps in the 8th minute. Sebastien Le Toux played the ball forward for Salgado to go after. Salgado was able to beat his defender but could not chase down the ball before it reached Sounders goalie Bryan Meredith.
The Whitecaps continued pressure seemed to put the Sounders on their heels and Seattle looked slow to start this game. The Whitecaps broke the deadlock in the 12th minute off a great run by left back Alain Rochat. Salgado found Rochat streaking down the left flank and Rochat walked in untouched and hammered the ball past Meredith. Rochat could have driven a Greyhound bus through the Sounders defense. Nobody in a Sounders shirt bothered to even blink at Rochat as he scored his 1st goal of the season.
Alain Rochat was surprised by what he saw when he scored his goal. “I was surprised myself to go through. I was looking for an option and it was way open for me to go right to the goal so I didn’t hesitate. It was a good finish.”
Omar Salgado, who didn’t play Wednesday against Toronto FC looked well rested and ready to contribute after a poor showing last Saturday in New England. Alain Rochat crossed the ball up to Salgado, who almost put his team up by two goals in the 33rd minute. Salgado beat Sounders defender Jeff Parke to the ball and had his attempt on goal just roll wide of the post.
Omar Salgado talked about the Whitecaps quick start. “We studied them we knew what their weaknesses were and we went straight at them. We did really well the whole game and we were just unfortunate two mistakes, two goals.”
Whitecaps Jamaican forward Darren Mattocks made his first MLS start and nearly scored in the 40th minute. Alain Rochat sent in a ball to Mattocks, and he used his great speed to break in behind the Sounders back four just to have his attempt roll past the Sounders far post. Seattle was thoroughly out played in the first half and was lucky to be down only 1-0.
Seattle Sounders right back Adam Johansson talked about his teams slow start after the game. “I don’t know what happened in the first half. We gave them some yards and they’re a good team when they have some time.”
Johansson also described what happened on both Whitecaps goals. “Their first goal we should step on him (Alain Rochat) before he comes that far and the second goal it’s a good free kick but maybe we can head it away.”
Seattle must have received quite the pep talk from head coach Sigi Schmid at halftime because the Sounders wasted no time in evening up the score in the 47th minute. Captain Mauro Rosales sent in a cross from just outside the box that was headed home by forward Eddie Johnson. Johnson got in between Whitecaps defenders YP Lee, and Martin Bonjour to score his 3rd goal of the season.
Fredy Montero had a great second half for the Sounders. After the Sounders tied the game Montero came close to putting the Sounders ahead. Whitecaps goalie Joe Cannon made a pair of key saves off Montero in the 50th minute. Montero didn’t give up and had another attempt on goal saved by Cannon in the 56th minute as he fired a huge shot from inside the box. Cannon was able to get his left hand on the ball to send it out for a corner.
Whitecaps fans made themselves heard all throughout the game. The fans cheered for Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie to bring on recent goal scoring hero Eric Hassli and that’s exactly what happened in the 63rd minute. Hassli had been playing his best soccer this month coming off the bench for the Whitecaps. Hassli had a chance to be the hero again off a similar play that earned the Whitecaps a draw against Toronto FC mid-week. Gershon Koffie setup Hassli in front of the Sounders net, but Hassli’s volley was well off the mark and landed in the seats behind the net.
Whitecaps defender YP Lee played his third game in 8 days and looked full of speed, energy, and hustle. Lee made a few great runs up the right flank in the opening half and involved his teammates by making great passes. Lee got into a scuffle with Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso in the second half and both players were given a warning by referee Kevin Stott.
Whitecaps forward Camilo came on for Davide Chiumiento in the 80th minute and paid dividends right away by scoring off a Whitecaps free kick on 82 minutes. Camilo curled his free kick into the box and the ball went in untouched off a bounce off the pitch past Sounders goalie Bryan Meredith.
The Sounders looked like they would be heading down Interstate-5 to Seattle with zero points but that wasn’t the case thanks to a goal in the 89th minute by the persistent Fredy Montero. Montero showed fantastic ball control and beat Whitecaps centre backs Jay DeMerit and Martin Bonjour to eventually curl the ball past the shocked Joe Cannon and Whitecaps fans everywhere.
Notes: The Whitecaps play next on Wednesday, May 23rd, in Toronto in the 2nd leg of the Amway Canadian Championship. The Sounders will host the Columbus Crew on the same night at Century Link Field.