VANCOUVER, B.C. – If all of the Cascadia Cup matches are played the way the first two have been in the 2014 season, it's bound to be an eventful year for Sounders FC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the Portland Timbers.
After a wild 4-4 draw with the Timbers in April, Sounders FC had another wild affair with the Whitecaps on Saturday, again coming up with some late heroics to find an equalizer in the closing minutes, walking out of BC Place with a 2-2 draw to remain atop the Supporters' Shield standings with an 8-3-2 record. It was the seventh time this season that Seattle scored after the 80th minute to earn points from a match, with Sounders FC earning 17 points from those matches.
"It's coming and again we showed character," said Sounders FC Head Coach Sigi Schmid. "We showed our character to come back and we showed our character because we almost walked away with three."
Against Portland, Clint Dempsey took the team on his shoulders and scored a hat trick to eventually earn the draw. With Dempsey away with the U.S. National Team, it took a team effort to earn this point on the road.
Adding to the adversity of the match, Seattle was playing without Dempsey, DeAndre Yedlin, Lamar Neagle and Chad Marshall. Dempsey and Yedlin are with the U.S. National Team preparing for the 2014 FIFA World Cup while Neagle was limited this week with a hamstring injury and Marshall fell ill on Saturday morning, making him a late scratch from the match. In addition, Djimi Traore suffered a groin injury in the match and was replaced by Brad Evans, who just returned from U.S. camp and played center back in his place for about 15 minutes before switching roles with Jalil Anibaba and moving to right back.
Stepping up for Seattle, Chad Barrett scored his second goal of the season in his first start – playing in a less comfortable wide midfield role – while Cam Weaver drew a late penalty and Gonzalo Pineda scored his first goal of the year to equalize in the 82nd minute.
"We've got a great road record and that's something that we can build on. The guys put in a good shift tonight," Evans said. "We keep pushing hard, we keep working and if we eliminate a couple of mistakes here and there, we probably get three points. There's something to be said for coming back and getting the result."
Seattle had to withstand a barrage from Vancouver in the first 10 minutes of the match, highlighted by a trio of dangerous shots from Gershon Koffie, starting when his left-footed shot from the center of the box was tipped wide by Stefan Frei. Over the next four minutes, he thumped a shot from the top of the box on a volley that skipped just wide of the post and had another shot hit hard off the crossbar, coming down just in front of the line to keep the match scoreless.
In the 36th minute, Seattle snared the lead when Kenny Cooper looped a left-footed cross into the box from the right side, finding Barrett for a header from the middle of the box that slipped inside the far post for 1-0 lead.
However, the lead wouldn't last long. Vancouver evened it up in the 39th minute when Erik Hurtado juked a pair of Seattle defenders, then blasted a close-range shot past Frei to make it 1-1. Vancouver continued to command the attacking end of the field throughout the match, outshooting Seattle 24-8 in the match. In the 66th minute, Vancouver took the lead when Frei left his box to clear a ball on the defensive right side. His clearance fell right to Koffie 35 yards out and the midfielder lofted a shot toward the opened net, bouncing in for the goal to make it 2-1.
That set the stage for the late heroics, which have seemingly become inevitable for Seattle this season.
In the 81st minute, Weaver was dragged down in the box for a penalty and Pineda netted the equalizer with a penalty, scoring on a panenka as he did in the 2005 Confederations Cup against Argentina to make it 2-2 in the 82nd minute.
"We were looking for the three points always. Vancouver played very good and they had a lot of opportunities, so it was good for us to get at least one point," Pineda said. "I don't know if we deserve it or we don't, but when the other team has a good game, it's important for us to get that one point."
Sounders FC had an opportunity to regain the lead in the 84th minute when Marco Pappa led Obafemi Martins into the box, but his shot across the goal narrowly missed, hitting the right post and bouncing out into the box before it was cleared by Vancouver. Frei had two stoppage-time saves to preserve the draw, finishing the match with four saves.
"We always want to get more, but we're happy to walk away with at least a point, especially when you look at the players we were missing in total," Schmid said. "We had to make some unusual changes and substitutions. I thought we did well, but I wasn't happy with the goals we gave up, obviously."
April 5 – Sounders FC 4 @ Portland Timbers 4
May 24 – Sounders FC 2 @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
June 1 – Vancouver Whitecaps FC @ Portland Timbers
July 5 – Sounders FC @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC
July 13 – Portland Timbers @ Sounders FC
August 24 – Sounders FC @ Portland Timbers
August 30 – Portland Timbers @ Vancouver Whitecaps FC
September 20 – Vancouver Whitecaps FC @ Portland Timbers
October 10 – Vancouver Whitecaps FC @ Sounders FC