[With the Canadian Soccer News site currently being down for a bit of a revamp and rejigging, we’re temporarily moving AFTN back to Blogger for a few days. All the stuff posted here will get uploaded onto the blog at CSN once we’re back up and running. This was uploaded on CSN on Monday before it went down, so we’ve reproduced it here minus all the other photos]
It’s always hard when you need to rely on other teams to do you a favour. It’s even worse when it’s one of your local rivals. Sometimes though those rivals become frenemies and come through for you, as was the case with Portland Timbers 1-0 defeat of Seattle Sounders on Sunday night.
It was a derby game full of the passion, hatred and fight that you want in such matches but most of all, it was a Timbers victory that sees Vancouver Whitecaps crowned as 2013 Cascadia Cup champions, lifting the trophy for a record breaking fourth time.
That looked an unlikely outcome just a few weeks ago, but a Vancouverrevival whilst fighting for their playoff lives and a Seattle collapse of epic proportions, sees the much cherished Cup heading back north of the border for the first time since 2008.
Vancouver topped the three team table with 9 points from their three games and a record of two wins, three draws and just one defeat. Considering the Caps hadn’t beaten any of their Cascadian rivals in MLS action before this season, it’s even more remarkable. They are still looking for their first MLS win over Portland mind you.
The Whitecaps scored 13 goals on their way to the Cup, conceding nine, with seven different players finding their way onto the scoresheet. Camilo Sanvezzo was the Cup MVP with five goals and three assists, but let’s not forget Kekuta Manneh’s hat-trick against Seattlelast week which gave the Caps a lot more than just three points towards this trophy.
If the Caps fail to make the playoffs, will their performance in winning the Cascadia Cup and late season rally be enough to keep Martin Rennie in a job and appease the fanbase? Let’s hope that’s a scenario we don’t need to delve into later.
For now though, let’s just enjoy the moment, as we bring you, in words and pictures, “How The 2013 Cascadia Cup Was Won”….
Round 1: Seattle Sounders 1 Portland Timbers 1 (March 16th)
The 2013 Cascadia Cup aptly got underway in MLS “Rivalry Week”. The irony now being that the team that won the biggest rivalry battle in MLS weren’t given a game that particular weekend. Eddie Johnson gave Seattle a 13th minute lead before Ryan Johnson sent the travelling green and white hordes home very happy with a 91st minute equaliser. Although we didn’t know it at the time, that goal was going to prove huge for Vancouver’s Cup hopes.
Round 2: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Portland Timbers 2 (May 18th)
Coming off their first ever MLS win against LA, Vancouvercame into this one looking for their first ever Cascadia Cup win. Camilo Sanvezzo opened the scoring with a stunning curling free kick from just outside the box in the 24th minute.
That was how it stayed until the 52nd minute. A Will Johnson shot struck the arm of Andy O’Brien, the referee pointed to the spot and the Canadian duly dispatched the equaliser. The parity lasted two minutes before Gershon Koffie restored the Caps lead with a curling effort of his own from the edge of the box.
With Portland down to ten men, it looked like the Whitecaps were finally going to get their elusive victory but with six minutes remaining Jose Valencia hit a controversial equaliser when he brought a long ball down with his arm, showed great footwork in the box and struck the ball past Brad Knighton to end the game at two apiece.
Round 3: Seattle Sounders 3 Vancouver Whitecaps 2 (June 8th)
63,679 packed into the Clink to see a fantastic match that ebbed and flowed and ultimately ended in heartbreak for Vancouverthrough some terrible defending.
Andy Rose opened the scoring for Seattlein the 9th minute when he wasn’t picked up on a through ball and slotted home. The Sounders lead lasted for less than a minute before Camilo headed home a Russell Teibert cross and unexpectedly tied things up in a game Seattle had thus far dominated. Camilo then put Vancouverinto the lead in the 26th minute with a superb diving header from a Teibert free kick.
The turning point of the game came in the 64th minute when Andy O’Brien went down with an injury on the horrible temporary grass pitch that had been laid. The Caps defence was readjusted and the Sounders took advantage. Substitute Greg Klazura made a terrible challenge on Lamar Neagle in the box in the 69th minute and Servando Carrasco hit home the resultant penalty to tie things up. Neagle hit the winner with nine minutes remaining from close range to leave everyone of a blue and white persuasion absolutely gutted.
At this stage, sitting bottom of the table, winning the Cascadia Cup back seemed nothing more than a pipe dream once again. As did actually winning one of these games.
Round 4: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Seattle Sounders 0 (July 6th)
Revenge is a dish best served with a 2-0 victory in front of your own fans. I’m sure that’s how the saying goes, but even if it isn’t, that just what the Whitecaps did.
Nearly a month had passed since the agony in Seattle, but the Caps were on fire with 10 points taken from the last 12 since that defeat and they kept up their fine form in this one, thanks primarily to a stunning goalkeeping display from Brad Knighton.
The Caps got off to a dream start in the 4th minute when Kenny Miller got on the end of a long ball, made Jhon Kennedy Hurtado fall on his ass with a neat turn, then perfectly guided the ball low past Michael Gspurning into the bottom right corner.
Seattle pounded the Vancouver box and Knighton had a string of match winning saves, with seven in total, before Darren Mattocks finally eased the pressure with a rare goal in the 79th minute to secure the three points.
It felt at this point that nothing could stop the mighty Whitecaps, but then the annual late summer slump hit in full force.
Round 5: Portland Timbers 1 Vancouver Whitecaps 1 (August 3rd)
Before the Caps went into their complete summer tailspin they managed to secure a crucial point in what was probably one of the worst Cascadia Cup derbies you’ll see.
It was a woeful first half from both teams but out of the blue, Portland opened the scoring with a Ryan Johnson header four minutes into the second. The way the game had been going, it was hard to see Vancouvercoming back in this one. But they did and from that unlikely goalscoring source of the summer, Jordan Harvey, who got a corkscrew header onto a Camilo corner in the 69th minute.
Without that equaliser depriving Portlandof all three points, the Caps wouldn’t be the current recipients of the trophy.
Round 6: Seattle Sounders 1 Portland Timbers 0 (August 25th)
A 1-0 win for Seattlein front of a staggering crowd of 67,385 seemed to have the Sounders with one hand on the 2013 Cup. It was Eddie Johnson again with the Seattle goal on the hour mark, but no one could foresee the meltdown that was soon see them floundering.
Round 7: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Portland Timbers 2 (October 6th)
This was the big game and the major result in the run to the Cup. As the game entered the 76th minute it was looking like not only were the Whitecaps’ Cascadia Cup hopes going out the window, so were their hopes of postseason play.
Darlington Nagbe had been given too much space and cracked home the opener with four minutes of the first half remaining. We then witnessed the craziest 140 seconds of football in Cascadia Cup history.
Camilo hit a 30 yard free kick and with the help of a deflection, Vancouver were back level and back at the races. For a few seconds at least.
People always love to trot out the old “Whitecaps hate Canadians” line these past few years. We don’t, but we do hate Will Johnson in a Portland jersey and the Canadian went right up the pitch and gave the Timbers back the lead.
But anything he can do, Camilo can do so much better and the Brazilian hit a goal of the year candidate sideway scissor kick to give Vancouver a share of the points and at least keep some interest in both the playoff race and the Cascadia Cup.
It did feel at the time that not winning this “must win” game was going to be the end of the Whitecaps’ season. But then came the second trip of the season to Seattle.
Round 8: Seattle Sounders 1 Vancouver Whitecaps 4 (October 9th)
It was the result that no-one saw coming. Yes, Vancouver were fighting for their playoff lives and Seattle had a slightly weakened team but to go to Seattle and have an 18 year old rookie destroy a team in the running for the Supporters’ Shield, well, that’s just the stuff of future folklore.
Kekuta Manneh was a one man wrecking machine up front for the Whitecaps, aided by two nice assists by the much maligned Daigo Kobayashi.
After a big save by David Ousted, the Caps went up the pitch moments later and Manneh opened the scoring with the first of three cool and calm finishes in the 12th minute. He made it two with three minutes of the half remaining, but you still had that horrible feeling that Seattlewould find the way back.
Those fears were first allayed in 54th minute when Manneh completed his hat-trick, then came back again when Mauro Rosales pulled one back with 21 minutes still remaining.
The Caps had a few pressure moments but they held firm and then eased them totally when Nigel Reo-Coker did another of his bulldozing runs but to everyone’s surprise actually put the ball in the back of the net at the end of it this time, albeit thanks to some horrible goalkeeping from Michael Gspurning.
It was a win that put Vancouverto the top of the Cascadia Cup standings but more importantly, right back in the mix for one of the final two playoff spots in the West. Still a lot of work to do and help is needed, but at least there was now hope of both postseason play and a shiny trophy.
Round 9: Portland Timbers 1 Seattle Sounders 0 (October 13th)
Portland wanted this win so bad for many reasons. I’m sure they also wanted a few more goals just to rub their hated I5 neighbours noses right in it but they’ll certainly make do with the three points and depriving Seattle of taking back the Cascadia Cup on their home turf.
It was just the kind of match you want from a local derby. Ferocity, passion, goals, a sending off, an electric atmosphere and two teams and fans that don’t like each other in the slightest.
The only goal of the game came from Kalif Alhassan with a low drive in the last minute of the first half. Portland’s woodwork came to their, and Vancouver’s, rescue twice, and really should be coming back up the road inside the Cascadia Cup. Maybe Timber Joey can chop off us off at least a little bit.
Whilst Vancouver can sometimes feel like the estranged cousin in the Cascadian rivalry, winning the trophy back and becoming the first four time winners of the Cup will perhaps get some more attention and hate heading north. I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s a shame it’s taken so long.
Our photographer Brandon Farris headed down to the game and captured some of the key moments and the trophy presentation (you can see a few more of his fan photos on our Flickr account).
No wonder Major League Soccer tried to trademark the Cascadia Cup. They’ve nothing else quite like it. Excitement, passion and twists and turns galore. Watch for MLS trying to bottle it in an online store near you soon.
In amongst all the Vancouver jubilation though, at the end of the day, whilst the Caps winning the Cup is the feel-good story of our season so far, it doesn’t get them that place in the playoffs and right now, that is the only focus for this week and hopefully next.