VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA - A playoff-like atmosphere with major postseason implications produced an intense contest on Saturday night, as Seattle Sounders FC (13-9-5, 44 points) bested Vancouver Whitecaps FC (11-10-7, 40 points) by a final score of 2-1 at BC Place. The result gives Seattle its first Cascadia Cup since 2015, bringing home the regional trophy that formally began in 2004 by the biggest supporters groups of each of the three Pacific Northwest sides - Seattle's Emerald City Supporters, Portland's Timbers Army and Vancouver's Southsiders. Though the Timbers and Whitecaps still have a match to play, tonight's three points for Seattle put the cup out of reach and back into the Rave Green's trophy cabinet. This is the organization's fifth Cascadia Cup dating back to the USL era, with Seattle's last clinching of the trophy coming on Vancouver's home turf in September 2015.
Raul Ruidíaz netted two goals to sustain Seattle's single-season MLS record for a winning streak in the post-shootout era (nine games), keeping the Rave Green above the postseason cutoff line. Seattle sits in fifth place, now four points ahead of Vancouver in the race for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. The club is currently tied with Portland for that position on points, but is ahead of the Timbers via the total wins tiebreaker. Currently, just seven points separate the teams between second and sixth in the West. Meanwhile, Seattle's unbeaten run moves to 12 matches, just one game shy of the single-season club record that was set in 2017.
Ruidíaz wasted little time getting back into his scoring ways after returning from international duty with Peru. The striker converted a precision cross from an overlapping Kelvin Leerdam on the right flank, putting the ball past Vancouver's Stefan Marinovic with a stab of his left foot. The strike was Ruidíaz's fourth since joining the Rave Green in the summer transfer window, marking his third tally in the past four MLS games.
Ruidíaz bagged his brace in the 42nd minute, pouncing on a communication error between two Whitecaps defenders inside their own half. The Peruvian intercepted a loose ball, streaking toward goal and calmly finishing at Marinovic's near post before wheeling away to celebrate in front of Seattle's traveling supporters. The strike was his fifth of the season.
Vancouver answered back deep into first-half stoppage time, as Kei Kamara rose to meet a Nicolás Mezquida corner-kick, beating Stefan Frei at the back post. A hard-fought first 45 minutes came to a close with Seattle leading 2-1 at the intermission. Despite a number of chances for each side in the second half, neither club was able to find the back of the net.
Heading back across the Canadian border tonight, the Rave Green prepare for two matches over the coming week. First up, Brian Schmetzer's men face Eastern Conference foe Philadelphia on Wednesday, September 18 inside CenturyLink Field (8:00 p.m. PT / JOEtv, YouTube TV, 950 KJR AM, El Rey 1360 AM). Seattle then travels at week's end, heading down to Southern California for a key Western Conference showdown with the LA Galaxy on Sunday, September 23. Kickoff for that contest is scheduled for 4:00 p.m. PT, with national television coverage on FS1. LA currently trails Seattle in the postseason race by six points.
- Sounders FC is now 13-9-5 on the season, and currently sits above the red line at fifth in the Western Conference with 44 points. Brian Schmetzer's side is level with the Portland Timbers on 44, but ahead of its Cascadia rival via the total wins tiebreaker.
- With seven matches remaining in the 2018 regular season, Seattle is just seven points out of first place in the West.
- With the win, Sounders FC clinches the 2018 Cascadia Cup title after earning nine points in four qualifying matches (3-1-0). Seattle reclaims the regional trophy for the first time since 2015, giving the club five total Cascadia Cup titles since the competition began in 2004, one shy of Vancouver's six. In the MLS era of the Cascadia Cup, Seattle and Vancouver each have three, while Portland has two.
- Sounders FC brings its winning streak to nine consecutive victories, extending its single-season league record in the post-shootout era (since 2000). Seattle is now tied with Sporting Kansas City's league record for consecutive wins over multiple seasons, who achieved nine straight wins over the 2011 and 2012 campaigns.
- The result extends Seattle's unbeaten streak to 12 games (10-0-2), dating back to July 4 at Colorado. The run is the longest spell without a loss this season, and is the club's second-longest unbeaten streak in club history. The longest unbeaten streak in club history is 13 games (6-0-7) from June 21-September 23 of last season.
- Raúl Ruidíaz scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season, giving him four in his last four games. Seattle today improved to 8-0-0 in games in which he starts, and 4-0-0 in games in which he scores.
- Sounders FC is now 10-7-5 all-time against Whitecaps FC in MLS regular season play, including a 5-3-4 record in Vancouver. Dating back to 1975, Seattle leads the all-time series against Vancouver 72-52-25.
- On the season, Sounders FC is now 6-5-3 on the road, earning 21 of its 44 points away from CenturyLink Field. Sounders FC's current four-match road winning streak is one shy of the club record set from August 6-October 22, 2011. Its run of six consecutive road matches unbeaten matches the club record set twice before (3-0-3 from May 7-July 10, 2011; 2-0-4 from June 25-September 16, 2017). The club has three regular-season road matches remaining in 2018.
- Seattle has allowed one goal or fewer in each of the club's 12 matches during the current unbeaten run, and its 28 goals allowed is the fewest in MLS this season.
- In the club's last five contests, Seattle has outscored its opponents 13-3. In sequential order, those games were against FC Dallas, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, Sporting KC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC - all teams that were above Sounders FC in the Western Conference table at the time save for Vancouver, who entered tonight's match one point behind the Rave Green.
Seattle Sounders FC 2 - Vancouver Whitecaps FC 1
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Venue: BC Place
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistants: Eric Weisbrod, Jeremy Kieso
Fourth Official: Drew Fischer
VAR: Geoff Gamble
Weather: 56 degrees and rain showers
SEA - Raúl Ruidíaz (Kelvin Leerdam, Cristian Roldan) 21'
SEA - Raúl Ruidíaz 42'
VAN - Kei Kamara (Nicolás Mezquida) 45'+4'
SEA - Osvaldo Alonso (caution) 41'
VAN - Russell Teibert (caution) 48'
SEA - Kelvin Leerdam (caution) 59'
VAN - Kei Kamara (caution) 90'+6'
LINEUPS & STATS
Seattle Sounders FC - Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam (Will Bruin 78'), Kim Kee-hee, Chad Marshall, Brad Smith; Gustav Svensson, Osvaldo Alonso - captain, Cristian Roldan, Nicolás Lodeiro, Harry Shipp (Víctor Rodríguez 69'); Raúl Ruidíaz (Jordy Delem 90'+1')
Substitutes not used: Bryan Meredith, Nouhou, Alex Roldan, Lamar Neagle
Total shots: 7 (Ruidíaz, 4)
Shots on goal: 5 (Ruidíaz, 4)
Fouls: 5 (Alonso, 2)
Corner-kicks: 8 (Lodeiro, 7)
Saves: 4 (Frei, 4)
Vancouver Whitecaps FC - Stefan Marinovic; Jakob Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Doneil Henry, Brett Levis (Brek Shea 53'); Alphonso Davies, Aly Ghazal (Jordon Mutch 70'), Russell Teibert, Cristian Techera; Nicolás Mezquida (Erik Hurtado 82'), Kei Kamara
Substitutes not used: Brian Rowe, Sean Franklin, Felipe, Efrain Juarez
Total shots: 21 (Kamara/Mezquida, 7)
Shots on goal: 5 (Techera/Mezquida, 2)
Fouls: 12 (Kamara, 3)
Offside: 1 (Techera, 1)
Corner-kicks: 10 (Techera, 6)
Saves: 3 (Marinovic, 3)