After dropping points in their last two matches due to slow starts, the Seattle Sounders Saturday came out at home flying against the Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite their up-tempo play, however, Seattle waited until the final 10 minutes for Jordan Morris to bag the game-winning goal in a 1-0 triumph over the Cascadia rivals.
“Symbolic, it’s a big word,” Schmetzer said. “I’m not so sure I’d call it symbolic. I’d just say it’s a testament to that group of guys. We’ve worked all week long about trying to create enough quality chances for us to get at least one.
“They created enough chances. They got one.”
Absent Clint Dempsey, who was cleared to return to practice Tuesday but has no timetable to return to play for the Sounders after undergoing a “procedure” for his irregular heartbeat, the Sounders played Alvaro Fernandez on the right wing, with Nicolas Lodeiro in the middle and Andreas Ivanschitz on the left. Morris, as usual, was at striker.
Seattle (10-13-5) attacked Vancouver (9-14-7) from the start, working the ball frequently into the left wing to create space for Joevin Jones playing up from the back line. The Sounders were unable to convert, however, as chances zipped left, right, and over the bar, to the frustration of the home crowd.
Lodeiro put a shot just outside the upper 90 in the second minute. Then he missed another just past the left post in the 17th. Ivanschitz fired a shot that skimmed off the right post in the 23rd. It was like the ring toss at the county fair, lots of close calls, but no giant stuffed animal.
In the 14th minute, Stefan Frei was called upon to make an unconventional save. A ball came through to Erik Hurtado, who flicked it high over Frei’s head as the keeper rushed out to meet the threat. As Hurtado ran past Frei to head the ball home when it returned, Frei spun and gave chase, jumping up to swat the ball away from Hurtado’s head and keep the scoresheet clean.
The second half brought more of the same for the 47,111 said to be in-house. Seattle would bring the ball downfield, send in a cross that looked as though it was certain to find its target’s feet, before the Whitecaps would clear the ball and race off to counter, only to be stymied by Seattle center backs Chad Marshall and Román Torres.
Vancouver nearly took the lead when a counter attack allowed substitute Giles Barnes a clean look at the net, but his shot from the right side smashed off the left post and was cleared away by Marshall.
Morris made his move in the 81st minute. Lodeiro took the ball out of the right alley, stepped above the box, and swung a cross in that curled toward the net. Morris, dragging his defender with him, ducked his head and got enough of the ball to bounce it into the net.
Seattle held on for 10 nervous minutes to come away with three points, vaulting it into seventh place, six points back from the Portland Timbers, who occupy the sixth and last playoff spot in the Western Conference after a 2-1 win over Philadelphia Saturday.
If the Sounders can continue multiple shots on goal, they might have a chance for a post-season spot. With six games remaining, however, a single slip could spell doom for hopes of extending its playoff streak.