VANCOUVER: Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Seattle Sounders FC played to a scoreless draw in the first leg of their Western Conference Semifinal series in front of a sellout crowd of 27,837 fans on a tension-filled Sunday evening.
The ‘Caps held Sounders FC from scoring an important away goal at BC Place, thanks in large part to strong defensive play from the backline and in the midfield. The playoff clean sheet, Vancouver’s second in five days, sets up a golden opportunity for Whitecaps FC in Thursday’s second leg in Seattle, where the ‘Caps could advance with a win or another draw, as long as they are able to break into the scoresheet.
Head coach Carl Robinson made a pair of changes to his lineup, inserting Nosa Igiebor and Brek Shea in place of Yordy Reyna and Cristian Techera, both of whom picked up a knock in last Wednesday’s match against San Jose Earthquakes.
The first half saw two sides sizing up each other, but neither landing the initial blow. The ‘Caps had a chance in the half-hour mark off a 24-pass sequence to set up Shea’s attempt from the left side of the six-yard box. Sounders FC goalkeeper Stefan Frei was there to protect the net, before Román Torres swept the danger off the line.
The visitors threatened shortly after halftime, with centre back Chad Marshall latching on a Kelvin Leerdam cross, but Stefan Marinović was calm to make the save for the ‘Caps.
Whitecaps FC received a late push from Reyna and Techera off the bench, but there weren’t any goals in the cards for the evening, as the defence won out on both ends of the pitch. Kendall Waston and Tim Parker stood tall in the middle for the ‘Caps, preventing Seattle from coming close to breaking the tie.
The match did not end without drama however, as the two teams got into a shoving match during a break in play late in the fixture.
The two rivals will have to wait until Thursday for a winner to be decided in the tightly-contested series, with the winner advancing to the Western Conference Final. Kickoff at CenturyLink Field is at 7:30 p.m. (TSN5, TSN Radio 1040)
Budweiser Man of the Match: Kendall Waston
Referee: Kevin Stott
Possession: Vancouver 46.4% – Seattle 53.6%
Shots: Vancouver 7 – Seattle 6
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 0 – Seattle 1
Saves: Vancouver 1 – Seattle 0
Fouls: Vancouver 14 – Seattle 6
Offsides: Vancouver 0 – Seattle 1
Corners: Vancouver 2 – Seattle 5
45′ – VAN – Nosa Igiebor
79′ – VAN – Aly Ghazal
87′ – SEA – Cristian Roldan
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
24.Stefan Marinović; 28.Jake Nerwinski, 4.Kendall Waston ©, 26.Tim Parker, 17.Marcel de Jong; 66.Aly Ghazal; 7.Christian Bolaños (13.Cristian Techera 76′), 50.Nosa Igiebor (29.Yordy Reyna 62′), 16.Tony Tchani, 20.Brek Shea (11.Nicolás Mezquida 89′); 12.Fredy Montero
Substitutes not used
1.David Ousted, 2.Jordan Harvey, 8.Andrew Jacobson, 23.Bernie Ibini
Seattle Sounders FC
24.Stefan Frei; 18.Kelvin Leerdam, 29.Román Torres, 14.Chad Marshall (27.Lamar Neagle 78′), 5.Nouhou Tolo; 7.Cristian Roldan, 21.Jordy Delem (4.Gustav Svensson 64′); 19.Harry Shipp (6.Osvaldo Alonso 74′), 10.Nicolás Lodeiro ©, 33.Joevin Jones; 17.Will Bruin
Substitutes not used
1.Tyler Miller, 15.Tony Alfaro, 23.Henry Wingo, 91.Oniel Fisher