SEATTLE – Vancouver Whitecaps FC rode two penalty kicks to a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field on Saturday night, cancelling out a scorching first goal of the year for Andreas Ivanschitz and pushing the Sounders to their first 0-3 start in the club’s MLS history.
Pedro Morales converted penalty kicks in the 10th and 74th minutes for the ‘Caps, who took the early edge in the teams’ Cascadia Cup series and snapped a two-game losing streak of their own to start the MLS season.
The luck wasn’t quite as good for the Sounders, who lost for the fourth time in five matches across all competitions in 2016 and couldn’t overcome the night’s pair of controversial penalties whistled by head ref Mark Geiger. Ivanschitz scored the Sounders’ lone goal off a free kick from the right corner of the penalty box in the 52nd minute, bending the shot around the Vancouver wall and into the back of the net.
The ‘Caps took the early lead after a penalty was whistled on Sounders left back Joevin Jones. Vancouver forward Blas Perez skipped a ball down the right flank to onrushing winger Christian Bolaños, who was battling with Jones for position on the ball. The two players either became tangled or Bolaños tripped on his own feet inside the box, and Geiger promptly called the foul and pointed to the penalty spot.
Morales calmly converted the ensuing penalty kick for his second goal of the year.
Ivanschitz pulled the Sounders level early in the second half, but the Whitecaps were back at the penalty spot in the 74th minute. Sounder defender Chad Marshall was whistled for a foul inside the box as he slid to clear a ball from the onrushing Perez, and Morales coolly converted the ensuing penalty for the 2-1 lead.
The final score belied an otherwise solid night offensively for the Sounders, who controlled the tempo for nearly the entire first half, and nearly threatened to score on a handful of occasions. The best came off the head of forward Nelson Valdez, who narrowly missed with a redirect to the back post in the 21st minute off an Ivanschitz corner kick.
The Sounders outshot the Whitecaps 19-9 in the game and controlled 60 percent of the possession.
They threatened again repeatedly in the second half, but their best chances never found the mark. Jordan Morris took a promising through ball from Clint Dempsey in the 63rd minute but buried the shot into the stomach of ‘Caps goalkeeper David Ousted, and Dempsey skipped a shot just wide of the far post in the 80th minute after a cross from Jones.
Saturday marked the first time the Sounders lost the first three games of an MLS season since they joined the league in 2009. Their longest winless streak to start a season came in 2011, when they went winless over their first four games (0-2-2) before eventually finishing second in the Western Conference standings at the end of the year.
The Sounders once again played without two starters for the third time in as many league games. Midfielder Erik Friberg (knee) was replaced by Cristian Roldan, and center back Brad Evans (shoulder) was replaced by veteran Zach Scott for the second straight game.
The Sounders will return to action at home against the Montreal Impact on April 2 after upcoming FIFA international date next weekend.
Seattle Sounders FC 1 – Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2
Saturday, March 19, 2016
Venue: Xbox Pitch at CenturyLink Field
Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistants: Frank Anderson, Matthew Nelson
Fourth Official: Alejandro Mariscal
Weather: 57 degrees and cloudy
VAN – Pedro Morales (penalty) 10’
SEA – Andreas Ivanschitz 52’
VAN – Pedro Morales (penalty) 74’
VAN – Octavio Rivero (caution) 35’
SEA – Andreas Ivanschitz (caution) 44’
VAN – Pedro Morales (caution) 51’
SEA – Tyrone Mears (caution) 71’
SEA – Chad Marshall (caution) 73’
VAN – Blas Perez (caution) 82’
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC – Stefan Frei; Tyrone Mears, Zach Scott - captain, Chad Marshall, Joevin Jones; Osvaldo Alonso, Cristian Roldan, Andreas Ivanschitz (Aaron Kovar 88’); Jordan Morris (Oalex Anderson 71’), Nelson Valdez, Clint Dempsey
Substitutes not used: Tyler Miller, Dylan Remick, Nathan Sturgis, Tony Alfaro, Oniel Fisher
Total shots: 19 (Dempsey, 9)
Shots on goal: 5 (5 players tied with 1)
Fouls: 14 (Marshall, 3)
Offside: 2 (Roldan/Valdez, 1)
Corner-kicks: 8 (Ivanschitz, 7)
Saves: 5 (Frei, 5)
Vancouver Whitecap FC – David Ousted; Jordan Harvey, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Fraser Aird; Pedro Morales – captain (Masato Kudo 84’), Matias Laba, Christian Bolanos, Kekuta Manneh (Cristian Techera 83’), Blas Perez; Octavio Rivero (Andrew Jacobson 78’)
Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Masato Kudo, Nicolas Mezquida, Cole Seiler
Total shots: 9 (Morales, 2)
Shots on goal: 7 (Morales, 3)
Fouls: 20 (Perez/Aird, 3)
Offside: 1 (Perez, 1)
Corner-kicks: 1 (Techera, 1)
Saves: 4 (Ousted, 4)