VANCOUVER, B.C. - Over the last two seasons in Major League Soccer, the Sounders FC established themselves as one of the top teams in the league.
Saturday night in Vancouver, they showed that they were the top team in Cascadia as well, topping the Vancouver Whitecaps FC 3-1 to take the Cascadia Cup in the first season that the cup was awarded in MLS play after the Whitecaps and Portland Timbers joined the league as expansion clubs this season.
The win clinched the Cascadia Cup for the Sounders and also moved them into sole possession of second place in MLS at 15-6-9 (54 points).
“I thought the Sounder fans were great in terms of their support,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It’s a great feeling being able to hold the cup up in front of them and have them be so involved.”
Brad Evans converted a penalty and Fredy Montero scored two goals to take over the team lead to lift the Sounders to their second straight convincing victory in MLS play after a 3-0 pasting of DC United last week.
However, it did take a strong performance from goalkeeper Kasey Keller to help seal the win.
Keller came up with a big stop in the 18th minute when Peter Vagenas played Michael Boxall into a point blank shot. The Whitecaps would get on the board in the 22nd minute when Vagenas led Davide Chiumiento up the right side behind the defense and Chiumiento crossed to Camilo charging down the middle of the box unmarked for a one-touch goal to give Vancouver the 1-0 lead.
Keller would finish the night with six saves though, including several sure-goals late in the match to preserve Seattle’s lead.
“He yells at us and screams at us, but we’d want nobody else behind us,” Evans said. “When the game asks for that one or two saves to keep us in it, he’s come up huge on so many occasions.”
After falling behind 1-0, Seattle shot right back into the match - just as they did in Portland in a 3-2 comeback win in July.
Evans evened the game up before halftime from the penalty spot after Jay DeMerit was called for a handball in the box. In the 32nd minute, Montero got free up the left side, but his shot was knocked down by Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon. The ball spilled to the right side for Alvaro Fernandez, whose shot was knocked down out of the air by DeMerit for the penalty. Evans hammered it to Cannon’s left while he dove right and the score knotted up at 1-1.
“To equalize before halftime is important,” said Schmid, noting that it was Seattle’s fifth comeback win of the season. “That shows a lot of belief within the group and a lot of internal fortitude.”
In the second half, Montero took over.
In the 63rd minute, Montero corralled a bouncing ball in the box, faked a shot with his right foot and switched it over his left for a shot to beat Cannon for a 2-1 lead. Four minutes later, he took a pass from Evans and banged a shot that deflected over the outstretched hand of Cannon and into the top corner to seal the win with a 3-1 tally.
“He’s a special player that makes special plays and tonight he did that,” Schmid said.
After the final whistle, the Sounders lifted the Cascadia Cup with the masses of traveling supporters who made the trip to Vancouver for the match.
“I feel very good for those people who came from Seattle to Vancouver to support us. It feels very good,” Montero said. “We look forward to battling for them every single game.”
The Sounders will face Comunicaciones from Guatemala on Tuesday in Guatemala City in the fifth match of the CONCACAF Champions League group stage with a chance to clinch advancement to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Their travels will then take them to New England, where they will face the Revolution on Saturday before they return home for the US Open Cup final on Tuesday, October 4 against the Chicago Fire.
Sounders FC - Brad Evans (PK) 33; Fredy Montero 63; Fredy Montero 67.
Whitecaps FC - Camilo (Davide Chiumiento, Peter Vagenas) 22.
Sounders FC - Brad Evans (caution) 30; Jeff Parke (caution) 76.
Whitecaps FC - Jay DeMerit (caution) 32; Eric Hassli (caution) 70.
Sounders FC - Kasey Keller, Zach Scott, Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl, Alvaro Fernandez (David Estrada 79), Osvaldo Alonso, Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle, Fredy Montero, Nate Jaqua (Sammy Ochoa 66).
Whitecaps FC - Joe Cannon, Jonathan Leathers (Jeb Brovsky 46), Jay DeMerit, Michael Boxall, Jordan Harvey, Davide Chiumiento, Gershon Koffie, Peter Vagenas, Camilo, Eric Hassli (Long Tan 81), Mustapha Jarju (Shea Salinas 58).