Vancouver Whitecaps get Saturday afternoon spanking by Seattle

September 20, 2015 at 10:02 pm | Posted in Whitecaps season 2015 | Leave a comment
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Oh, the indignity of it. The Seattle Sounders humiliated the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of a sold out crowd at BC Place yesterday. What made it worse was that the Whitecaps had the opportunities to put this one away early, but could not find the back of the net.

Coach Carl Robinson started the match with Ousted in goal, Smith at left back, Kah and Waston at centre back, and Harvey at right back. Teibert and Koffie took up positions in defensive midfield, while Techera and Manneh flanked Rosales in the number 10 spot. Rivero played the lone striker up front. The Whitecaps were without Laba, Beitashour and Morales and man, did it show.

Teibert’s play only made Laba’s absence more keenly felt, Smith looked weak on defence, ponderous in his runs and poor in crossing the ball, while Rosales sprayed the ball around accurately but to no real effect.

The last time Seattle came to Vancouver was when they beat us 2-0 earlier in the season with two Chad Barrett markers. They played Clint Dempsey in deep midfield then and repeated the strategy yesterday. Dempsey did a fine job of helping Seattle keep possession throughout a match where the pressure was on the Whitecaps. The Whitecaps needed to win to retain the Cascadia Cup, and Seattle decided to soak up the pressure and keep the ball as long as possible when they got hold of it.

Seattle showed they did not just come to defend when Evans forced an excellent save from Ousted early on with a header that was going into the roof of the net.

Whitecaps Striker Rivero looked lively early on and had a chance to put Seattle on the back foot after 18 minutes. A bad back pass put Rivero through on goal with no one to beat except Sounders keeper Frei, who was out of the play and at Rivero’s mercy. Astonishingly and disappointingly, Rivero hit the ball first time wide of the net; all he needed was to find the target and Frei likely would not have been able to stop it.

Techera later put an amazing low long pass through to Rivero, who was again in alone. Frei had read the play well, however, and got out early to block the effort by Rivero.

Twenty minutes later Kah put a high diagonal ball over Seattle’s defences to Techera who deftly trapped the ball and out-paced a Seattle defender to approach Seattle’s goal alone from a steep angle on the right. Techera fluffed his left footed effort and Frei was able to easily gather the weak shot. Rosales and Rivero were both free and available in front of goal awaiting a pass, making the whole situation all the more frustrating.

Football is the kind of game where missed chances come back to haunt you and this game just served to prove the point.

Just before half time Obafemi Martins shrugged off a couple of challenges from Waston 35 yards from the Whitecaps goal when he spotted Seattle’s Austrian new boy Ivanschitz ghosting past Smith at the far post. Smith let to try to cut out the high ball but was well out of position. Ivanschitz latched on to the ball unopposed and drove it through Ousted’s legs into the Whitecaps’ goal. It was 0-1 Seattle. The timing of the goal could not be more devastating; Smith’s lack of concentration proved to be deadly to the Whitecaps’ efforts to retain the Cascadia Cup.

The second half began with the Whitecaps creating several good chances but each time the result was a shot comfortably into the loving arms of the waiting Frei, whose well-organized defence put intense pressure on Whitecaps shooters. Chad Marshall played like Vancouver’s own Kendall Waston, using his size to clear Seattle’s 18 yard box of any high balls.

With the Whitecaps desperate to score to claw back the match and the Cascadia Cup, they became vulnerable at the back and Dempsey was put in charge of marshalling counter attacks, which he did with devastating effectiveness. Dempsey provided passes for two goals, one by Pineda in the 70th minute and one by Martins in the 87th.

The first was a masterclass of counter attacking football, with no fewer than 5 Sounders involved in the Whitecaps half of the field in a fluid passing manoeuvre resulting in Pineda’s devastating strike off the post and into the net. Smith again looked wanting, flailing about rather than taking decisive action as last man back.

The last goal found the Whitecaps caught with only two men back as Dempsey sprinted deep into Whitecaps territory causing a ball with only Teibert in pursuit. Dempsey shrugged Teibert off like he was a rag doll and slotted the ball to an unmarked Martins who made no mistake to make it 3-0. This third goal shovelled on the grief at BC Place, which had begun emptying out earlier. The mood reminded me of the funeral I had attended earlier on this rainy September day.

The loss left the Whitecaps still atop the league but sitting on a real bubble, with three Western Conference teams, (Dallas, LA, and Seattle), within three points of them. The Whitecaps have five MLS matches left.

I don’t think there was one Whitecaps player who could be happy with their performance on this night. Techera and Rivero needed to be better in front of goal in the first half, and the team was lacking in ideas in the second half, failing to bring one difficult save from Frei in Seattle’s goal. Matias Laba was missed in particular, with his replacement Teibert lacking both in defence and going forward.

How things can change in a month and a half. On the first of August we easily beat a very poor Sounders team 3-0 on their own pitch; now they have done the same to us, meaning they win the series two games to one in MLS play.

This match proved that if we meet Seattle in the playoffs we had better have all of our first team fit if we expect to be successful. Now it is back down the I-5 to Seattle for CONCACAF Champions League play. Lets hope we can win some of our honour back.

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