This past weekend was not just any other match between Major League Soccer Clubs; it was a Cascadia Cup Match between the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Seattle Sounders. The match was the second this year in the Cascadia Cup Derby between the two clubs with both playing to a 2-2 draw back on May 24th. Just as the previous match in Seattle was a thriller, this match was no different as a sell-out crowd at BC Place was treated to a true Soccer Classic.
As the match began, it was very apparent that this match would be a contrast in styles with Vancouver quickly asserting a fluid, up-tempo pace while the Sounders were trying to slow the pace of the match down and go for more of a control and then attack mode of play. In previous matches, Vancouver seemed to begin the first half very slowly and then needed a strong second half to either draw even or take the match outright, not so in this match. The Whitecaps came out strong and dictated the flow and in turn, Seattle was playing catch-up the entire first half.
The fluid play was due, in fact, to the changes that Head Coach Carl Robinson made to the starting line-up prior to the match. Nigel Reo-Coker, Russell Teibert and Nicolas Mezquida were replaced by Steven Beitashour, Gershon Koffie and Kekuta Manneh. The moves proved to be the kick-start that Vancouver needed as they dominated right from the start of the match.
Sebastian Fernandez proved from the opening whistle that he was going to be a game changer as he found Erik Hurtado in front of the Sounder’s Net and if it was not for a brilliant save by Seattle keeper Stefan Frei, Vancouver would have been ahead a minute into the match.
The play would be a precursor to what would be a constant theme in the match, quick counters and brilliant crosses from Vancouver, who were energized and fresh, feeding off the over twenty-two thousand fans that came to see the Whitecaps play.
Frei would be tested often and his fantastic play kept the Sounders in the match until the twelfth-minute when Koffie took control of the ball near midfield and fed it to Pedro Morales who then found Fernandez who took a blazing shot and found the back of the net.
The second half began as the first half had, and that was more pressure on the Sounders’ back-line by the Vancouver Attackers. The quickness of Manneh seemed to be too much for Seattle as he consistently broke trough and found himself in on goal on many occasions.
The pace of the second-half was frantic with both Vancouver and Seattle having many chances to score; however, the keepers were up to the task and were the stars of the match. Frei blocked two point-blank shots and the Whitecaps keeper, David Ousted, made a couple great saves himself.
The best chance Seattle had to draw even was in stoppage time as Marco Pappa took a shot which was just out of reach of Ousted, but, the ball landed on top of the net and soon after, the whistle blew.
The 1-0 victory for Vancouver added to their points lead in the Cascadia Cup Derby over both Seattle and the Portland Timbers. The next match for the Whitecaps will be at home on July 12th against Chivas USA.
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Main Photo via Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports