More than any other sport, the final score of a soccer match can camouflage who controls most of the action.
The Sounders (7-6-3, 24 points) lost 2-0 to the Vancouver Whitecaps (8-5-5, 29 points) Saturday in the third leg of the Cascadia Cup. Falling by two goals usually indicates a thorough beatdown, but coach Sigi Schmid’s 400th career MLS game was far from it.
The Sounders dominated possession, passed well and sent continuous waves of pressure at a Vancouver club unbeaten in 2013 at BC Place (6-0-3). They played like they had never lost to Vancouver in six previous MLS matches. The Sounders outshot the Whitecaps 16-13 and controlled the ball for 56 percent of the match.
They just couldn’t score.
Whitecaps goalie Brad Knighton was most influential in the final result. Knighton recorded a career-high seven saves, thwarting Seattle’s chances at an equalizing goal with numerous diving stops.
Staked a 1-0 lead when Whitecaps forward Kenny Miller scored in the fourth minute, Knighton was impenetrable.
In the first 45 minutes, he deflected or held on to powerful strikes from Obafemi Martins, Lamar Neagle, Zach Scott and Eddie Johnson. Each shot appeared destined for the back of the net.
The Sounders again pressured late, trying to add to their five goals scored in the last 15 minutes of regulation. Martins nearly redirected a cross with a highlight deflection that sailed just high and wide of the goal.
In the 79th minute, Vancouver caught the defense snoozing when Darren Mattocks gave the Whitecaps a 2-0 lead by receiving a long pass and beating freshly inserted DeAndre Yedlin.
The score sealed Vancouver’s first Cascadia Cup triumph since it joined the MLS and pushed them into a tie in the Cup standings with Seattle at 1-1-1. The loss prevented the Sounders from three points that would have helped overtake their northern rivals for fourth in the Western Conference standings.
Notes: The Cascadia Supporters Group Friday agreed to a trademark deal with MLS that will keep rights to the Cascadia Cup at the grassroots level. Assuming the deal is ratified, the trophy’s name, logo and likeness will remain with the Cascadia Cup Council, a non-profit group that manages the trophy given to the best professional soccer team in the Pacific Northwest. The Cascadia Cup Council is comprised of one fan representative from the Sounders, Whitecaps and Timbers. The settlement ended a trademark dispute between the fan coalition and the MLS that started in January . . . Seattle defender Osvaldo Alonso was unavailable to come off the bench (quad injury). DeAndre Yedlin made his first appearance since returning from the U-20 World Cup . . . the loss pushed to Seattle’s road mark to an unimpressive 3-5-1 . . . Seattle is 1-1 against Vancouver thanks to a June 8 come-from-behind win at CenturyLink Field.
Portland and Vancouver have more than caught up with the Sounders. The club can still make a run and pull away from their NW rivals but there needs to be a sense of urgency which I’m not sure is there right now.