The Vancouver Whitecaps crumble without Andy O’Brien against Seattle

Posted: June 11, 2013 in Uncategorized
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VANCOUVER, B.C. – In what was a brilliant match at CenturyLink Field on Saturday night the Seattle Sounders came up huge in the end with a thrilling 3-2 come from behind win over their visiting Cascadia rivals the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Sounders looked to be heading for a home loss after Vancouver answered Andy Rose’s 1st half goal with two of their own from Brazilian Camilo Sanvezzo before the half-time whistle. Vancouver for its part was poised to earn their first ever win over a Cascadia rival until a series of bad luck, poor play, and lack of intensity struck in the 2nd half.

The turning point in the match occurred when Andy O’Brien had to leave with a right hamstring injury.

O’Brien has been an anchor on the Whitecaps back line all season long, and he has taken over as a leader among the Caps defenders with his consistent and outstanding defensive play in the absence of Jay DeMerit. The soft-spoken Irishman is the glue that holds the Whitecaps back-four together and Vancouver were in shambles, and utter chaos without him.

Jordan Harvey had to move over to centre-back, and Greg Klazura had to come in for O’Brien, and play at a very unfamiliar left-back position. From that point forward it was a total circus at the back for Vancouver. Klazura’s rash challenge on Lamar Neagle set off a chain of events that doomed Vancouver after they started the game so strong. Servando Carrasco was able to convert from the spot and Seattle had all the momentum in front of the 53,679 fans.

Smelling blood, the Sounders did not sit back and play for a 2-2 draw. Obafemi Martins, and Lamar Neagle took over the final 20 minutes of the match looking for the decisive goal. Neagle was the best Sounders player on the pitch all evening and his hard work paid off when he out ran Jordan Harvey to tap in the 3-2 goal off a lovely pass from Martins.

The Sounders were bossing the match and you could clearly see the foreshadowing that was about to unfold. Vancouver wasn’t able to get forward at any point in the 2nd half, and Russell Teibert, and Camilo Sanvezzo were nowhere to be found. Seattle made the proper adjustments to start the 2nd half, and the Vancouver attack was absent and as a result they got complacent, and sat back which is always a dangerous tactic to employ with a 1-goal lead.

When crosses did eventually make their way up the field Camilo, and Kenny Miller were outnumbered three to one by Zach Scott, Djimi Traore, and Leo Gonzalez. Vancouver’s best strategy was to defend, defend, and defend some more until the final whistle blew.

The Whitecaps have struggled at maintaining leads and closing out teams when they’re leading in the 2nd half. In their previous match they held on for a 2-1 road win against the New York Red Bulls. All indications had pointed to Vancouver turning the page late in games but the Whitecaps haven’t learned how to play with a lead and knock out a team when they have them on the ropes.

The Sounders came back and earned their first win of the season when trailing at the half. A lot of credit has to go to Coach Sigi Schmid who was able to push the right buttons and get his team going with key players missing in action due to national team duty, injuries, and suspension.

Seattle and Vancouver put together another breath-taking match for all to see and these rivals will not have to wait long to get back on the pitch against each other. The Sounders will visit the Whitecaps on July 6 at BC Place Stadium.

Notes: The Whitecaps will host the New England Revolution on Saturday, June 15 at BC Place Stadium. The Sounders will travel to Sandy, Utah to take on Real Salt Lake on Saturday, June 22 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

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