SEATTLE – Fredy Montero may be the King of Cascadia, but Eddie Johnson won’t let him take the crown unopposed.
Both Seattle forwards scored on Saturday as the Sounders toppled the Vancouver Whitecaps in front of a crowd of 55,718 at CenturyLink Field to retake sole possession of third place in the Western Conference.Montero has six goals in seven matches against Portland and Vancouver while Johnson now has three goals in three games against Seattle’s northwest rivals.
“As long as they both stay hot, I’m happy,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid smiled after the match.
Michael Gspurning didn’t need to make any saves, but was active in clearing balls from the box in earning his fifth shutout of the season and improving his goals against average to 0.57.
In a first-half that was back-and-forth through the midfield, but lacked in scoring chances, Seattle had the best opportunity. Johnson deftly cut around Gershon Koffie to get space then took a left-footed shot that Vancouver goalkeeper Joe Cannon parried over the bar for the save in the 19th minute.
Three minutes later, Darren Mattocks charged up the right side, but his shot skipped wide of the far post for Vancouver’s most dangerous chance of the match.
As the second half started, the Sounders took control of the match, getting three great chances in a three-minute stretch. In the 50th minute, Johnson layed off a ball to Osvaldo Alonso for a shot from distance, but Joe Cannon touched it wide for the save. Later, Alonso had a shot saved by defender Carlyle Mitchell and Johnson missed an open net off a cross from Adam Johansson.
Seattle finally broke through the barrier in the 64th minute after Montero subbed into the match in the 61st minute, wasting no time in getting the Sounders on the board.
Mauro Rosales sent a free kick into the box and Jeff Parke chested it down to Montero at the right post. He gathered control, then touched it into the net for his eighth goal of the season to give Seattle the 1-0 lead.
“Fredy’s a team guy, he’s very respectful of all situations,” Schmid said. “He wants to be a game-changer, whether he starts or it ends up he doesn’t start. He still wants to do the same when he comes in the game.”
It was the fourth goal in the last five matches for Montero and also marked the tenth assist of the year for Rosales.
Seattle continued to mount pressure up the right side, but it would appear that the Whitecaps would equalize in the 81st minute. Dane Richards got to the endline up the right side and crossed a ball to the middle. Gspurning palmed the ball away and Parke tried to clear it, but was knocked down by Mattocks, who then knocked it into the net. However, he was whistled for the foul and the goal didn’t stand.
In the 87th minute, Johnson would net his 11th goal of the season to put the game out of reach.
Off a Vancouver corner kick, Rosales took control of possession and carried the ball up the middle. He dropped it back to Alonso, who played a pass across the midfield stripe and into the right corner for Brad Evans. Racing to the corner, Evans split a cross to Johnson at the far post and he touched it into the net for the goal and the 2-0 lead.
“These games are meaningful. These are the big games. This is what our fans look forward to every season, Cascadia games,” Johnson said. “Brad played an amazing ball across the box. It was just good build-up. All the credit to Brad. I just had to get on the end of it.”
That lead would hold up as the Sounders improved to 11-6-7 (40 points) and jumped ahead of Vancouver and the LA Galaxy for third in the Western Conference.
The Sounders will face Chivas USA next Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
Sounders FC – Fredy Montero (Jeff Parke, Mauro Rosales) 64; Eddie Johnson (Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso) 87.
Whitecaps FC – None.
Sounders FC – Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (caution) 58.
Whitecaps FC – Gershon Koffie (caution) 91+.
Sounders FC – Michael Gspurning, Adam Johansson (Zach Scott 79), Jeff Parke, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Leo Gonzalez, Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Christian Tiffert, Alex Caskey (Fredy Montero 61), Mauro Rosales (Andy Rose 88), Eddie Johnson.
Whitecaps FC – Joe Cannon, Lee Young-Pyo, Andy O’Brien, Carlyle Mitchell, Alain Rochat, Dane Richards, Gershon Koffie, Jun Davidson (John Thorrington 90), Kenny Miller, Darren Mattocks (Atiba Harris 90), Camilo Sanvezzo (Russell Teibert 74).