Sounders win playoff berth with tie in Vancouver
A physical game with plenty of scoring opportunities yielded no goals, but Seattle earned a postseason spot.
Seattle Times staff reporter
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VANCOUVER, B.C. — The tone of Saturday's rivalry game between Sounders FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps was set in the third minute, and the impression was left on Fredy Montero's face.
The Seattle forward was bloodied by a swinging forearm to the face from defender Jay DeMerit — a play that went unpunished — and blows between the teams would continue for another 87 minutes.
In the end, 28 fouls were called. Just another typical Cascadia Cup game.
"They're always going to be a battle," said coach Sigi Schmid.
The slugfest ended in a scoreless tie, a result that clinched the Sounders (13-7-10) a fourth-straight playoff berth and extended an MLS-record run of going 62 games without back-to-back losses.
There was no champagne in the locker room, however, as Seattle has gone 1-1-3 in September.
"We know that we are in the playoffs with that point, but it's not enough," said midfielder Mauro Rosales. "We came here for the three points."
The disappointing tie also put Seattle's Cascadia Cup hopes in jeopardy as the team remains behind Portland in the standings (eight points to six) with just one game left. The Sounders must win an Oct. 7 home game against the Timbers, and also get help later in the season from the Whitecaps, to defend their title in the fan-sponsored tournament.
Vancouver, which has gone seven MLS games without a win, was eliminated from winning the Cup.
The Whitecaps (10-12-9) would have stayed in the running with a win, and the hosts nearly got it in front of 21,000 at BC Place in the dramatic final seconds, but midfielder Camilo missed inches wide on an open shot from 8 yards out.
"Yeah, my heartbeat was a little bit high at this moment," said Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
Added Schmid: "We can be fortunate we didn't walk out down."
Back-and-forth final minutes saw multiple scoring chances for both teams.
Each had one in stoppage time — DeMerit fired a shot directly at Gspurning in the first minute and Montero missed high in the third.
Each also nearly scored on a late deflection — Vancouver's Kenny Miller had a shot bounce wide in the 87th minute, as did Seattle's Steve Zakuani two minutes later.
The Whitecaps cleared a ball off the goal line, as well, when defender Jeff Parke fired a shot off a corner kick that was cleared by defender Lee Young-Pyo.
Vancouver finished with 16 shots, 12 coming in the second half. Seattle had 13 shots.
"You can't say that both teams didn't want to win this game," said Gspurning, who palmed away a dangerous, knuckling shot from Whitecaps midfielder Alain Rochat in the 48th minute.
A positive for Seattle was earning the team's first shutout in six games.
On the other side, the Sounders hadn't been shut out in 12 games, and this tie guaranteed a worse regular-season record than last year's franchise-best 18-7-9.
"If you told us before that we'd have a shutout, we all would be, 'Sure, OK, we will win this game,' because we always (score) one," Gspurning said. "But it didn't happen, so we have to accept this and... keep working."
• The Sounders expect the largest crowd of the year — and maybe the biggest for an MLS game in team history — in their next game against Portland as the whole stadium will be opened up.
• For just the second time this season, the Sounders fielded a starting lineup it had used previously as Rosales returned from injury and forward Eddie Johnson returned from suspension. Seattle had started the same lineup in a 6-2 road win against Chivas USA in August, a performance that matched franchise records for goals scored and margin of victory.
• Vancouver's Dane Richards served a one-game suspension Saturday due to yellow-card accumulation. The Whitecaps had to make two substitutions before halftime due to hamstring injuries to midfielder John Thorrington and forward Darren Mattocks.
• The Sounders are 4-3-9 on the road; the three losses are an MLS low.
• Seattle holds a 62-46-21 advantage in the series with Vancouver, which dates to 1974 in the old North American Soccer League. The Whitecaps have never beaten the Sounders in MLS (0-2-3).
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @joshuamayers
|Seattle||0 0 — 0|
|Vancouver||0 0 — 0|
Seattle — Michael Gspurning, Jeff Parke, Adam Johansson, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Mauro Rosales (Steve Zakuani, 70th), Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert, Brad Evans (Andy Rose, 74th), Eddie Johnson, Fredy Montero.
Vancouver — Brad Knighton, Jordan Harvey, Young-Pyo Lee, Alain Rochat, Jay DeMerit, Andy O'Brien, John Thorrington (Matt Watson, 17th), Gershon Koffie, Barry Robson, Darren Mattocks (Camilo, 42nd), Kenny Miller.
|The Sounders must win an Oct. 7 home game against the Timbers and get help to complete their title defense.|