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Whitecaps upset Sounders to edge back into playoff picture


Photo by Jane Gershovich/JaneG. Photography


SEATTLE — It wasn’t the prettiest match, but the result was picture perfect for the Vancouver Whitecaps and their large contingent of traveling fans.

Three points on the road against a fierce rival and, for now, a spot in the MLS playoffs with just two matches remaining in the regular season.

Oh, and a minor trophy.

The Whitecaps only managed six shots Friday night, but Kekuta Manneh’s goal late in the first half was all the scoring Vancouver needed to escape with a 1-0 win over the Seattle Sounders in front of 55,765 at CenturyLink Field.

“To say that I’m at a loss for words is an understatement,” said Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson after the match. “I’ve just said to the group in (the locker room) that I’m absolutely so proud of every single one of them in there tonight. Not many people gave us the opportunity and believed that we could win. But I did, 1,250 fans did, the group did — which was the most important thing. So it’s all down to the players today, and I give them all the credit.”

With the win, the Whitecaps (11-8-13, 46 points) move one point ahead of the Portland Timbers for the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot. The Timbers routed the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday and are off until hosting Real Salt Lake (13-8-10, 49 points) next weekend. Vancouver visits the Earthquakes (6-14-11, 29 points) before hosting the Colorado Rapids (8-15-8, 32 points) to wrap up the regular season.

Vancouver has now won three straight games after winning just once in its previous seven matches. Friday night’s victory was also the Whitecaps’ first road win since June 1.

Manneh scored the lone goal of the match in the 45th minute, streaking to meet a Pedro Morales pass into acres of space down the left side of the pitch. Manneh, who had just been waved back onto the field after injuring his leg, juked center back Chad Marshall before slapping a left-footed shot under goalkeeper Stefan Frei for the 1-0 lead.

DeAndre Yedlin, the Sounders usual starting right back, missed the match due to national team duty. That absence, said Robinson, was not an insignificant factor.

“I felt that was an area that, without DeAndre Yedlin, we could get at them,” said Robinson. “Brad Evans is a fantastic player, but he’s a midfielder.”

For his part, Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said waving Manneh back on the field was an unusual decision.

“Evans had gone forward with the ball,” said Schmid, “and the referee lets the guy on the field. He usually doesn’t let him on the field when the ball is on the same side of the field.”

In any event it was Morales’ team-leading 11th assist of the season.

“He sees what other people don’t see,” Manneh said about Morales. “I started running — because I know his quality — so I started running and he played the ball through. It was a great pass.”

The Sounders — who only mustered eight shots themselves — didn’t even generate a good look at goal until the 90th minute, when Clint Dempsey half-volleyed a bouncing cross inches past the far post. Moments later Brad Evans headed a corner that Vancouver center back Kendall Waston cleared off the line.

It was as close as the Sounders — the second-highest scoring team in MLS — came to finding the back of the net. Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid credited the Whitecaps’ defense with frustrating his team.

“They were very well organized,” Schmid said. “They really packed the middle of the field. We needed to create more width, and didn’t quite get that done.”

Asked how his team was able to keep the Sounders off the scoreboard, Robinson pointed more to the mystical than the tactical.

“I don’t know,” he said with a smile. “I don’t know, maybe the soccer gods. I talked about the soccer gods this week, and (said) we’d need a little bit of luck.”

The loss leaves the Sounders (19-9-3, 60 points) tied with the LA Galaxy in the Supporters’ Shield race. The Galaxy (17-9-5, 60 points) visit FC Dallas on Sunday. The Sounders travel to Los Angeles next weekend for the first of two back-to-back matches against the Galaxy to close out the regular season.

With the win, the Whitecaps also captured the Cascadia Cup, an annual fan-sponsored competition awarding bragging rights to the Pacific Northwest team faring best in head-to-head competition.

Here are the match highlights:


  1. Hopefully Vancouver and Dallas will go on a bit of a playoff run. It would be nice to see Robinson and Pareja get rewarded for developing some of the young players.

  2. Correction: “Manneh, who had just been waved back onto the field after injuring pretending to injure his leg”

    You did see the studs up kick to his hip and notice the fact that he was subbed at the half? How Martins emerged from that game without a card is beyond me.

    • More importantly, I noticed how he jumped back on the field during the run of play—a rather clever way to find oneself unmarked—to score his goal.

      Sorry, I’m just always skeptical whenever an attacker goes down in agony, then miraculously heals upon hearing a whistle.

  3. Am I the only one who thinks sounders deserve better?
    Their coach needs to go study more the game and come back with better tactics and chop off some pounds.( being honest)
    Dempsey and oba are spoiled little girls who act tough and practically are over rated, with all respect.
    Their honey badger DP Alonso is over paid and if he’s so good, let him go some where else for more money.
    The mexican dude Pineda is a reject from ligaMX and how in the world did he get a contract with sounders, HOW! He practically is division 2 material in Mexico and is playing in MLS , not good for sounders.
    So what I’m trying to say, is that sigi needs to go. Dempsey should shut up and play and oba needs to play like he knows.
    Not only that but Alonso’s time is up, just like Sigis and sounders need a new coach and pay les Alonso in order to get a DP that can serve balls to Dempsey and oba.

  4. I’m glad they lost. Sigi times up, and even Dempsey is become a primadona little b. I much rather see fc Dallas and rsl Vancouver then the pretentious timbers in the playoffs. Yes I’m still bitter on how Caleb porter was handed the best U-23 team we have had until date crash and burn. It was like handing a Ferrari to him and having him blown the transmission getting out off the driveway.

    • Just saying that U-23 team looks more like an Oldsmobile Aztec than a Ferrari. Diskerud is only one who contributes to the grown up National team. Corona, Boyd, and Gyau have barely made an impression on the national team. Agudela and Shea where were they last night?

      • Sean Johnson is still trying to stop that late speculative shot right at him – just parrying it away would have seen them through.

    • As far as Porter and the U23 team, it was not set-up to maximize the chance of success. One of the three training camps held prior to qualification was in Germany when Porter couldn’t even be there. And very few of the European based players from that camp were chosen for the final olympic qualifying squad so that camp seemed to be mostly a waste. How was Porter suppose to evaluate any of those players when he couldn’t be there. How was Porter suppose to have the best chance of getting the team prepared and playing the way he wanted when he could attend 33% of the training camps. I’m certain that camp wasn’t Porter’s idea. Why would US Soccer and Klinsmann pick a U23 coach who had a full-time job. Is US soccer so cheap that it couldn’t hire a full time U23 coach for a year or two? Much about that qualifying cycle was head scratching.

    • Porter’s U23’s were a Ferrari? Lulz. When has the US ever had any men’s national team that was the equivalent of a high end sports car?

      Yes, it is true that a totally blown easy save by Sean Johnson at 90+5 was the difference between qualifying and not – Totally Porter’s fault.

      And if that team was really something special, now that they are all in their mid 20s, why isn’t that roster starting to fill out the senior team now? Because they are really not that great. Corona gets time for non-WC games. Diskerud sat on the bench in Brazil and is a contributor in friendlies. Boyd gets looks but not when it counts (friendlies). Gyau is now getting a look, suspect it won’t go far.

      Which other players are you referring to as components of a Ferrari? Villafana? Sean Johnson? Kofi Sarkodie? Zarek Valentin? Sheanon Williams? Adu (lulz)? Jared Jeffrey? Micheal Stephens? Brek Shea (had some moments 2 years ago but is generally just a mess as a player)? Tony Taylor?

      That team was a Ford Taurus. Should have been enough to do the job but when it came right down to it, the other mid-sized sedans managed to beat it out because Sean Johnson can’t catch.

  5. Seattle had numerous poor touches, primarly from Vancouvers hustle to the ball to prevent the easy pass. Seattle had a hard time moving the ball in the final third.

  6. Correction: “Manneh, who had just been waved back onto the field after injuring pretending to injure his leg”

    What this article failed to mention is why the Sounders managed so few shots. The answer is: Kendall Waston. The guy was everywhere—which is not surprising considering that he’s 19 feet tall, 400 pounds, and still pretty agile. Reminded me of an in-form Gooch.

  7. The west is a crazy tough conference given that Timbers still have a chance, Vancouver as well and fc Dallas could be out, even rsl.
    It would be fun if timbers and Vancity make it though, given that Seattle has no choice but to win MLS cup and sigi has his days counted.
    As for the east, skc looks like a hurricane gaining power for the playoffs and they might just cruise control to MLS cup versus galaxy but like I said before, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a galaxy vs red bull MLS cup.
    This weekend should gives a clear picture of MLS cup scenarios.

    • Galaxy definitely needed Seattle to drop points last night. Now LA just need a draw in Dallas and a win in LA, and the SS is ours! Not counting our chickens before they hatch though. Dallas will be tough and Seattle will be an epic battle.

      • Someone else who can do basic math! People on MLS’ website have been hating on me for telling them a draw is the same as a win against FCD!

      • Your math is only basic if you know the future.

        The best the Sounders could reasonably hope for is a draw in LA and a win at home. If that happens, LA will wish it had pulled out a win, not a draw, against Dallas.

      • Like I said, BASIC math people! This is why I’m scared Bruce hasn’t calculated this. Such simple addition and people can’t even figure it out. Please god let him own a calculator!

        Glad to know that you don’t think total wins should be the first tie breaker either though.

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