By IVES GALARCEP
The whistle blew late in Saturday’s Cascadia clash betwen the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders, and few could believe what it was being blown for. A penalty call on Jay DeMerit left the Whitecaps perplexed and the Sounders on the verge of escaping enemy territory with a precious point.
Gonzalo Pineda stepped up and delivered a Panenka-style penalty kick to provide one final dash of style to a match that had plenty, leaving the Sounders and Whitecaps even in an eventual 2-2 draw at BC Place.
The sold-out crowd weren’t exactly happy with the match-deciding penalty, but had to be thrilled at the action they watched, a game that had ups and downs, and a pair of stunning Whitecaps goals.
Seattle drew first blood on a Chad Barrett header in the 36th minute, but Erik Hurtado responded just three minutes later with a stunning run and finish that saw him beat a pair of Sounders defenders before blasting a shot past Stefan Frei. The finish came after Hurtado had won the ball deep in his team’s own half and started a break that culminated with his highlight-reel finish.
Gershon Koffie provided his own outstanding finish, with some help from Frei, who was caught out of his penalty area after racing to the sideline to clear away a ball. Frei’s clearance fell to Koffie, who promptly belted a 40-yard shot at goal before Frei could recover to make the score 2-1.
The Whitecaps looked like they might earn the Cascadia victory before DeMerit was whistled for a penalty in the 82nd minute for a foul on Cam Weaver. Replays showed DeMerit jumping up well before Weaver to challenge for ball in the air, only to have Weaver jump into him late and draw the referee’s whistle for a dubious game-tying penalty.
Here are the match highlights: