By JASON MITCHELL
Speedy, young, and relentlessly attacking, the Vancouver Whitecaps had to be licking their chops ahead of Saturday’s match against the Seattle Sounders.
No Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, or DeAndre Yedlin to keep the Whitecaps honest. No Gonzalo Pineda or Osvaldo Alonso clogging the center of the pitch. No Djimi Traore in defense.
Indeed, Vancouver (6-3-7, 25 points) put the Sounders on their heels early and often throughout the first half, getting all the scoring they would need from Sebastian Fernandez and winning 1-0 in front of 22,500 at BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Fernandez found the back of the net in just the 12th minute, drilling a beautiful 25-yard strike past goalkeeper Stefan Frei for the 1-0 lead. Midfield impresario Pedro Morales, sprinkling dangerous passes to Fernandez, Kekuta Manneh, and Erik Hurtado throughout the half, earned the assist.
Marco Pappa—by far Seattle’s best player on the night—took a chance from 22 yards out in the 92nd minute, but couldn’t get his shot to duck under the crossbar.
Scrambling to maintain any possession in the first half, the Sounders (11-4-2, 35 points) dominated most of the final 45 minutes but never tested goalkeeper David Ousted.
Vancouver controlled all but sporadic patches of the first half, nearly adding a second goal on multiple occasions. Manneh almost scored on the counter in the 37th minute, but Frei came off his line to snuff out the teenager’s one-touch tap. Less than five minutes later Hurtado got on the end of a Steven Beitashor cross, but sailed a short-range half-volley into the stands. In the waning seconds of first-half stoppage time, Morales got free on the counter and unleashed a powerful, curling shot that Frei managed to paw away.
Seattle’s first chance came in the 25th minute, but Kenny Cooper’s header off a Brad Evans volley floated well over the crossbar.
The Sounders lead MLS with 20 second-half goals and three wins when trailing at halftime, but never really threatened to equalize. Dempsey and Yedlin were recovering from World Cup duty on Saturday, while Alonso and Pineda served suspensions for yellow card accumulation. Martins, Traore, Dylan Remick, and Andy Rose were unavailable due to injuries.
The victory lifts Vancouver into fifth place in the Western Conference, while the Sounders comfortably retain the league’s best record. The Whitecaps also snapped Seattle’s three-game winning streak.
Looking forward, the Whitecaps host Chivas USA (5-7-5, 20 points) next weekend, while the Sounders host the Portland Timbers (4-5-9, 21 points) in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday and in nationally televised league play on July 13.
Here are the match highlights: