Sounders FC (17-5-6, 57 points) clinched its 13th consecutive postseason berth with a 4-1 win over Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9-9-10, 37 points) Saturday evening at Lumen Field. Shane O’Neill, Nico Benezet, Will Bruin and Léo Chú scored for the home side as it extended its unbeaten streak against Vancouver to 13 games (9-0-4; including postseason play). The Rave Green return to action next weekend with a road match against the Houston Dynamo on Saturday, October 16 (5:30 p.m. PT / FOX 13+, Prime Video, 1090 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM).
Following a corner kick in the fifth minute, João Paulo and Kelyn Rowe’s interplay led to a cross from the latter to the far post, finding a wide open Shane O’Neill for a header past Vancouver goalkeeper Thomas Hasal. It marked just the second career regular-season goal for O’Neill and his first since joining Sounders FC prior to the 2020 season. He previously scored for Seattle in the postseason last year against FC Dallas. João Paulo’s assist gives him 10 on the season, the 12th time in Sounders FC history a player has recorded double-digit assists in a campaign.
Benezet made it 2-0 in the 14th minute with his second goal since joining the Rave Green in July. Rowe sent a throw-in inside the area to Will Bruin, who held off a Whitecaps FC defender and laid off a pass to Benezet for a first-time finish.
Vancouver pulled one back right before halftime courtesy of Brian White, but Seattle responded in the second half, with Bruin scoring his third goal of the season. Rowe again was part of the action, crossing from the right wing inside the 18-yard-box to Fredy Montero, who laid a pass off to Bruin for a strong finish inside near post from a difficult angle. It marked the 74th goal of Bruin’s career, 10th among active players. On the goal, Rowe earned his third assist of the evening, tying the club’s single-game record.
Substitute Léo Chú put the stamp on the match in the 90th minute with his first Sounders FC goal. After receiving a pass from Rowe down the right wing, Chú played a one-two combination with Montero and received a chipped through-ball inside the area. The Brazilian fought off a Vancouver defender to finish past the goalkeeper to make it 4-1.
• Saturday’s win at Lumen Field clinches a spot in the 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs for Sounders FC. Coming into tonight’s match, the club’s previous 12-year postseason streak was already a league record, ahead of the New York Red Bulls’ current 11-year run and the LA Galaxy’s 10-year run from 1996-2005. The run also ranks second among the active postseason streak leaders in all five major U.S. men’s sports leagues, behind only the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins (15 straight postseason appearances).
• Seattle’s strong late season form continues, as tonight’s win over Vancouver gives the Rave Green four consecutive wins in MLS play, equaling the club’s four-match winning streak between May 2 and May 16 earlier this season.
• Brian Schmetzer side maintains control of the Western Conference, with Seattle now five points ahead of second-place Sporting Kansas City. The Rave Green play Sporting for the third and final time this season on October 23 at Lumen Field.
• Saturday’s match marked the 145th all-time meeting between Seattle and Vancouver dating back to 1974. Seattle leads the all-time series 71-50-24, including a current 13-match unbeaten run (9-0-4) in MLS play (including postseason), dating back 2017. In MLS regular-season play, Seattle moves to 15-7-7 all-time.
• Tonight’s win moves Sounders FC up the Cascadia Cup standings with six total points (2-1-0) on the season, level with Portland’s six points (2-1-0) and ahead of Vancouver’s zero points (0-1-0). Two matches remain after Saturday’s fixture: Vancouver at Portland on October 21 and Seattle at Vancouver on November 7. Seattle won the Cascadia Cup in 2018 and 2019 before it was called off in 2020.
• With his opening goal in the fifth minute of play, centerback Shane O’Neill bagged his first goal of the year, and his second overall as a Sounder. O’Neill scored against FC Dallas on for the Rave Green in last year’s MLS Cup Playoffs, but he had not scored in regular-season play prior to tonight since 2014 (when playing for the Colorado Rapids).
• Summer signing Nico Benezet continued his good form for the Rave Green, scoring the second goal of tonight’s match in the 14th minute of play. For the Frenchman, it was second goal of the season in Rave Green since joining the club from Colorado on August 5 via trade. The attacking midfielder has seven appearances since that time (four starts).
• With his corner kick in the fifth minute on O’Neill’s headed goal, João Paulo earned his team-leading 10th assist of 2021. This is now the 12th time in Sounders FC history a player has recorded double-digit assists in a campaign. The Brazilian is also tied for fifth in MLS in assists this season.
• With his third goal of the season in the 55th minute of play, Will Bruin notched his 74th goal of his career, 10th among active players.
• Midfielder Kelyn Rowe provided assists on all three Seattle goals this evening, making him just the fifth Sounder in club history to earn a hat trick of assists in a single match. Forward Jordan Morris was the last accomplish this feat, when he recorded three helpers vs. San Jose on September 10, 2020.
• With his goal in the 90th minute, Brazilian forward Leó Chú bagged his first strike as a Sounder. Chú joined the Rave Green from Grêmio on August 5 using Major Soccer League’s U-22 player initiative.
Seattle Sounders FC 4 – Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1
Saturday, October 9, 2021
Venue: Lumen Field
Referee: Ted Unkel
Assistants: Peter Balciunas, Nick Uranga
Fourth Official: Victor Rivas
VAR: Jeremy Hanson
Weather: 56 degrees and rain
SEA – Shane O’Neill (Kelyn Rowe, João Paulo) 5’
SEA – Nicolas Benezet (Will Bruin, Kelyn Rowe) 14’
VAN – Brian White (Ryan Gauld) 45’+1’
SEA – Will Bruin (Fredy Montero, Kelyn Rowe) 55’
SEA – Léo Chú (Fredy Montero) 90’
VAN – Bruno Gaspar (caution) 35’
SEA – Yeimar (caution) 42’
SEA – Nicolas Benezet (caution) 43’
VAN – Ryan Gauld (caution) 72’
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei; Shane O’Neill, Abdoulaye Cissoko (Léo Chú 85’), Yiemar, Kelyn Rowe, Jimmy Medranda; Josh Atencio, João Paulo, Nicolas Benezet (Danny Leyva 71’), Fredy Montero; Will Bruin
Substitutes not used: Stefan Cleveland, Spencer Richey, Reed Baker-Whiting, Ethan Dobbelaere, Juan Alvarez
Total shots: 21
Shots on goal: 10
Vancouver Whitecaps FC – Thomas Hasal; Bruno Gaspar, Florian Jungwirth, Jake Nerwinski; Deiber Caicedo, Leonard Owusu (Marcus Godinho 71’), Ryan Gauld, Russell Teibert (Michael Baldisimo 71’), Patrick Metcalfe (Janio Bikel 71’); Cristian Dajome (Tosaint Ricketts 78’), Brian White
Substitutes not used: Cristian Gutierrez, Evan Newton, Ryan Raposo, Kamron Habibullah
Total shots: 11
Shots on goal: 3