VANCOUVER, BC – Vancouver Whitecaps FC (4W-2L-5D) gave first-place Seattle Sounders FC (8W-3L-2D) all they could handle but ended up settling for a 2-2 draw in an exciting Cascadia derby Saturday in front of a sold-out crowd at BC Place.
Erik Hurtado scored in his third straight match, including the Amway Canadian Championship, and Budweiser Man of the Match Gershon Koffie netted his first goal of the season in a match that saw Whitecaps FC outshoot their Pacific Northwest rivals by a 24-8 margin. But the visiting Sounders managed to salvage a point thanks to a late controversial penalty.
It was a disappointing result for Whitecaps FC, but not by any means a disappointing performance against the top team in the league. The ‘Caps are now undefeated in five straight MLS contests – they’ve also sold out each of their six MLS home matches this season.
Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson fielded an almost identical starting lineup from Vancouver’s last MLS outing – a 1-0 win over Columbus Crew on May 10. The only change saw Nigel Reo-Coker draw into the squad at right back in place of Steven Beitashour, who is away on international duty at Iran’s World Cup camp. It was Reo-Coker’s first MLS start in over two months.
In the build up to Saturday’s match, the ‘Caps promised to go right at the Sounders from the opening whistle. And that’s exactly what they did.
Vancouver got off to an absolutely electric start, launching eight shots towards the goal in the first 10 minutes alone. Several different ‘Caps players looked lively early on, including Kekuta Manneh, who made his career-high fourth straight start.
But the liveliest of the bunch was easily Koffie, who was absolutely dominant in midfield. In the sixth minute, after Sebastian Fernandez had his attempt blocked, Koffie sent a long-distance first time strike just wide of the post.
Less than two minutes later, the Ghanaian made a surging run down the middle of the park, blowing by his counterpart Osvaldo Alonso, before seeing his left-footed strike ring off the crossbar.
Seattle began to find their feet around the 15-minute mark after weathering the early storm. The ‘Caps still looked to be in control, but Seattle started to cause some problems on the counter.
And in the 36th minute, they struck first when Chad Barrett headed a perfect Kenny Cooper cross into the bottom left corner of the goal.
It took Vancouver just three minutes to answer.
Hurtado showed great poise to get the ‘Caps on the board, turning two Sounders defenders inside out before cutting back to his right foot and drilling it in from close-range.
Chilean Pedro Morales picked up his third assist of the season on the play, which puts him in a tie with Darren Mattocks for the team lead.
Despite outshooting the Sounders 14-4 and coming close on several occasions, the ‘Caps had to settle for a 1-1 draw at the half.
There wasn’t much between the Pacific Northwest rivals in the early stages of the second half. Neither side managed to generate any sustained pressure, but the ‘Caps still had their chances.
In the 61st minute, Fernandez released Manneh into the right side of the box, but the 19-year-old couldn’t beat a sprawling Stefan Frei.
The Sounders keeper came up big on that occasion, but a blunder just a few minutes later resulted in Vancouver’s go-ahead marker. In the 66th minute, Frei left his net to prevent a throw-in, but Koffie chested down his clearance and sent a left-footed half volley into the vacated net from 40 yards to give Whitecaps FC a 2-1 lead.
From that point on, the ‘Caps seemed to be in control. They looked comfortable in possession and continued pushing forward.
The match turned in the 81st minute, however, when Jay DeMerit was called for a penalty when he out jumped Seattle’s Cam Weaver and headed away a cross from danger. Sounders FC midfielder Gonzalo Pineda calmly chipped in the ensuing penalty to level the score at 2-2.
Seattle had a chance to take the lead just a few minutes later, as Obafemi Martins broke into the box before sending a low left-footed effort off the far post.
Whitecaps FC dominated the six minutes of stoppage time – Koffie came within inches on two separate occasions and Morales was buzzing in the final third. But Seattle held on in the end, as the match ended in a hard-fought 2-2 draw.
The ‘Caps won’t have to wait long for their next Cascadia derby, as they meet Portland Timbers next Sunday, June 1 at Providence Park. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. PT, live on TSN2 and TEAM 1410 radio.
It’s not too late to participate in the best sporting experience in Vancouver. Whitecaps FC offer a flexible range of ticket products, including half-season tickets ($244), 5-packs ($149), student season tickets, and a youth soccer half-season ticket. Single-match tickets start at $22, subject to applicable fees. For more information on all Whitecaps FC ticket options, call 604.669.9283 ext. 2 or visit whitecapsfc.com/tickets.
Stat of the Game
Koffie had eight shots, and three on target, Saturday against Sounders FC. Both are career-highs.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Gershon Koffie
Referee: Ismail Elfath
36’ – SEA – Chad Barrett (Kenny Cooper)
39’ – VAN – Erik Hurtado (Pedro Morales)
66’ – VAN – Gershon Koffie
82’ – SEA – Gonzalo Pineda (penalty kick)
Shots: Vancouver 24 – Seattle 8
Shots on Goal: Vancouver 6 – Seattle 2
Saves: Vancouver 0 – Seattle 4
Fouls: Vancouver 16 – Seattle 11
Offsides: Vancouver 0 – Seattle 0
Corners: Vancouver 7 – Seattle 2
41’ – VAN – Gershon Koffie
44’ – VAN – Matías Laba
68’ – VAN – Sebastián Fernández
90’+1’ – SEA – Marco Pappa
Vancouver Whitecaps FC
1.David Ousted; 20.Nigel Reo-Coker, 40.Andy O’Brien, 6.Jay DeMerit, 2.Jordan Harvey; 28.Gershon Koffie, 15.Matías Laba; 7.Sebastián Fernández (29.Nicolás Mezquida 71’), 77.Pedro Morales, 23.Kekuta Manneh (31.Russell Teibert 79’); 19.Erik Hurtado
Substitutes not used:
70.Paolo Tornaghi, 11.Darren Mattocks, 16.Johnny Leverón, 17.Omar Salgado, 24.Carlyle Mitchell
Seattle Sounders FC
24.Stefan Frei; 4.Jalil Anibaba, 20.Zach Scott, 18.Djimi Traore (3.Brad Evans 56’), 12.Leonardo Gonzalez; 19.Chad Barrett (23.Cam Weaver 79’), 6.Osvaldo Alonso, 8.Gonzalo Pineda, 10.Marco Pappa; 33.Kenny Cooper (42.Micheal Azira 71’), 9.Obafemi Martins
Substitutes not used:
1.Marcus Hahnemann, 5.Andy Rose, 7.Tristan Bowen, 15.Dylan Remick