Sounders FC 1 : 4 Vancouver Whitecaps
Vancouver Whitecaps stunned the Wednesday night crowd in Seattle after a Kekuta Manneh hat trick propelled the visitors to a 0-3 lead and their first road win in Cascadia since joining MLS. Nigel Reo-Coker netted his first for Vancouver after Mauro Rosales had pulled one back.
Manneh gave a finishing showcase but Sounders defending was awful as was their general passing game for most of the first hour. Vancouver now face Colorado twice and are two victories away from the play-offs, or evenm a three goal win and a draw.
Sounders travel to Portland on Sunday with a great deal of work needing to be done to rescue their faltering Supporters Shield hopes. They now have to win in Portland on Sunday to deny Vancouver an unlikely Cascadia Cup.
Despite Clint Dempsey and Steve Zakuani coming off the bench, the Caps held on comfortably for perhaps their best result since defeating the Red Bulls in New York.
Obafemi Martins returned to the starting line up in place of Eddie Johnson who was selected for the USA, while Brad Evans’ berth at left back was handed to David Estrada. Andy Rose replaced Adam Moffat in central midfield from the defeat in Colorado.
Djimi Traore replaced the suspended Zach Scott at centre half. Pat Ianni and Dempsey were on the Seattle bench.
For Vancouver, Kekuta Manneh started up front due to the lack of Kenny Miller and Darren Mattocks from a groin injury and Jamaican international selection respectively. Daigo Kobayashi surprisingly kept his place as did Jun Marques Davidson at defensive midfield. Russell Teibert, Gershon Koffie and Tommy Heinemann occupied the Caps bench after failing to impress coach Martin Rennie or many fans in recent starts.
Caps had an early concern when a hard but fair tackle from Traore flattened Vancouver’s Brazilian star Camilo within two minutes. Both sides started better than they had at the weekend though in neither case was that stating a great deal. Most of the early action was at the end Sounders were attacking.
On the next foray, Martins fell to the ground holding his head after being bumped on the chest by Jordan Harvey. Referee Guzman had Martins’ antics well scouted and brushed off his appeal. It was the start of yet another wretched first half for Martins.
Guzman wasn’t so sharp when Osvaldo Alonso charged down a Camillo free kick from barely eight yards out of the requisite ten. Vancouver’s Ousted was the first keeper to be called into action. Neagle forced the Dane quickly poaching a cross before he had to hare 40 yards out to head away from the speedy Martins. He then smothered Neagle’s effort after a brilliantly aware quick throw from David Estrada on the left. Sounders had been the better side in the first 10, more confident and more direct.
Against the run of play though, Vancouver scored in the 13th minute. Manneh received a forward header in midfield from Camilo. The young Gambian had plenty left to do and began it by outpacing Jhon Hurtado and finished it by slipping the ball past Mike Gspurning for a shock lead.
Traore was unmarked at the far post at a corner but headed wide from a difficult angle. The game bedded down with Seattle the more threatening side. The Caps were being less elaborate hitherto and Manneh blasted over on 27 after a good period of Caps possession as the underfire visitors began to exhibit a modicum of confidence.
Neagle did far better when he let fly from 25 yards. Ousted needed his fingertips to push the ball over the bar for a corner which Andy Rose could not flick on target. Martins headed Seattle’s best chance of the first half over the bar, after Neagle lofted Ousted’s weak punch back into the danger area.
Ousted was being kept busy and his general excellence wavered with each piece of action. At the other end, Manneh curled a tame effort wide after some over-elaborate build up play, a sin that both sides but especially Seattle were guilty of. Sounders had plenty of possession but were providing Ousted only with regulation work, and forcing nothing spectacular from him.
Manneh doubled the Caps’ lead in 42. YP Lee fired a grounded pass forward from right midfield to Camilo. He delivered a one touch pass inside to Manneh who was unleashed again on Gspurning. With an even cooler head, the young Gambian slotted his second past the Sounders keeper. The home crowd booed the side off at half time to a stern lecture no doubt from the coaching staff.
Neither coach made a change at the interval.
Martins fired wide four minutes into the second half, the good news being he was prepared to shoot on sight, the bad being it remained without accuracy. Shortly after, Designated Player Dempsey entered the fray for David Estrada. Before that could happen Carlyle Mitchell was rightly booked for a wild swipe on Yedlin.
Three minutes after Dempsey’s arrival, Manneh completed an unbelievable hat trick. Kobayashi found the grateful youngster totally unmarked after receiving a bad pass from Andy Rose. The defenders were horribly out of place as he stood onside and finished once more with ease.
Yedlin and Dempsey tried long range efforts but it was Gspurning who had to make the next big save from a wide Camilo drive. Pat Ianni replaced Marc Burch to allow Yedlin to play further forward on the hour mark.
Ianni headed a corner off the bar from a left wing corner but the stalled comeback finally started when Mauro Rosales fired the ball in from nine yards out after some penalty box ping pong. The home side were finding plenty time and space at this point and Ousted had to produce more to keep them at bay.
18 minutes from time, the hat trick hero Manneh left for Gershon Koffie in an attempt to stem the Sounders comeback but the momentum had shifted. Kobayashi was removed for Russell Teibert, possibly for his ability to take the ball and hold it for some time.
Neagle and Martims hindered each other to a Yedlin cross after the youngster comprehensively outsmarted Jordan Harvey. Sigi Schmid’s last card was Steve Zakuani who arrived on 78 for Rose, the Congolese’ first game since April.
Sounders continued to pummel the Caps’ defence but fell to the classic breakaway.
Reo-Coker intercepted the ball in midfield and sprinted downfield. With help to his right and Alonso on his shoulder, the Englishman just kept running shrugging off Alonso’s physicality. With his options limited, he shot at Gspurning who atypically allowed the ball through his legs and into the net for his the Englishman’s first ever MLS goal.
Erik Hurtado replaced Camilo on 85 and was ruled offside in stoppage time when replays showed the goal should have been allowed to stand. The linesman spared Sounders two consecutive 5-1 defeats. That was hardly a consolation for the cold and unhappy home crowd.
In tonight’s other games, Colorado Rapids fell 1-0 at San Jose, while Sporting Kansas were unable to boost their Supporters Shield hopes after a 0-0 draw at Houston.