It was Vancouver Whitecaps turn to feel the heartbreak of a late goal as they fell to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Seattle Sounders at Century Link Field on Saturday night.
The ‘Caps Cascadian rivals were denied an earlier goal by VAR but were rewarded by a dramatic winner six minutes into stoppage time from Kelvin Leerdum to claim all three points.
The majority of the first half saw the Whitecaps allow the Sounders to dictate the tempo of the match without giving up any grade A chances.
Other than a shot from distance from Joevin Jones, the most dangerous attempt on goal was a header from recently signed Justin Dhillon, which was easily caught by Zac MacMath.
Dhillon also found himself free in the box in the opening 20 minutes, but his directed shot was sent wide of the target.
Vancouver had a couple of shots on goal in the first half as well, with neither troubling Stefan Frei in the Sounders net.
It didn’t take long for the Whitecaps to look dangerous to start the second half as a minute in Yordy Reyna sent shot from inside box that was heading for the top corner if not for a deflection from Gustav Svensson.
However, it seemed to wake up Seattle as they had a trio of chances in the next five minutes with two going wide and one being on target but easily collected by MacMath.
After that spell the ‘Caps rebounded with Reyna hitting the woodwork and then Adnan forcing Frei into a massive save from a tight angle.
It looked as though the Sounders had taken the lead at the hour mark when Daniel Leyva hit the mark from distance, but it was overturned by VAR as it was deemed that MacMath was fouled by Dhillon, who left his studs in on the ‘Caps keeper in the build up.
That decision seemed to spur on Seattle and they continued to pour it on. Harry Shipp had a couple of shots on target and then Leerdam sent a volley just wide of the net.
Montero had a half chance with around 15 minutes to go as he stretched for a ball in the six yard area but his toes sent the ball over the bar.
The final 15 minutes of regular time saw the ‘Caps absorb pressure from the Sounders but it was well dealt with and the shots were far and few between.
It looked as though the Whitecaps would earn their third draw in a week, however Leerdam was set up in the box and his shot went under Rose and eluded MacMath for the late, late winner.
— Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) June 30, 2019
The loss ended the ‘Caps six match unbeaten streak as they ended a run of three games in a week after the Gold Cup break.
It was too much for the ‘Caps to absorb the waves and waves of pressure from the Sounders, especially for a side that had very little rotation for their eleven over the last week.
They will have some reinforcements when they travel to Southern California to take on LAFC in a weeks time for a tough match against the Western Conference leaders.
FINAL SCORE: Seattle Sounders 1 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
SEATTLE: Stefan Frei; Kelvin Leerdam, Saad Abdul-Salaam, Kim Kee-hee, Brad Smith; Danny Leyva, Gustav Svensson, Henry Wingo (Handwalla Bwana 79), Harry Shipp, Joevin Jones (Nouhou Tolo 86); Justin Dhillon (Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez 90) [Substitutes not used: Bryan Meredith, Jonathan Campbell, Alex Roldan, Jordy Delem]
VANCOUVER: .Zac MacMath; Jake Nerwinski, Érik Godoy, Andy Rose, Ali Adnan; Felipe Martins, Jon Erice, Victor “PC” Giro (Lucas Venuto 70); Inbeom Hwang; Yordy Reyna, Fredy Montero (Theo Bair 90) [Substitutes not used: Sean Melvin, Scott Sutter, Brendan McDonough, Brett Levis, Michael Baldisimo]
Possession: SEA 55.2% – VAN 44.8%
Shots: SEA 24 – VAN 12
Shots on Goal: SEA 8 – VAN 5
Saves: SEA 5 – VAN 7
Fouls: SEA 9 – VAN 9
Offsides: SEA 2 – VAN 0
Corners: SEA 10 – VAN 2
Duels won: SEA 42 – VAN 46
Tackles won: SEA 7 – VAN 11
MARC DOS SANTOS
On the game:
“It was very equal in some moments and back and forth for parts of the game. We could’ve been a little bit better in their half to sometimes have space and to create better chances. There were things in our decisions that needed to be better. Then [Stefan] Frei makes an incredible save on Ali Adnan and I think Fredy [Montero] hits the side of the post kind of. Then at the end, they pushed and in injury time the game was open. Physically, in those minutes, it was difficult for us. The last five minutes, I thought maybe this third game in eight days…I’ll always come back to this is very wrong. Let’s educate everybody in that we’re playing league games while there’s the Gold Cup. It’s actually amateurish and we have to improve as a continent, and as a nation – Canada and U.S. – that you’re playing a competition during another competition. It’s kind of amateur. It’s not good for us. It’s not good for Seattle and it’s not good for this environment and all of the fans that were here.”
On the frustration of allowing a goal so late in the match:
“It is, but it’s part of the game. If you guys look at the interviews I give after every game, I never attack the ref and I’ve never spoken about them. Today I’ll just say this: go watch the last three minutes that leads to the goal of Seattle and go count the amount of fouls that should’ve been called – a hand ball that wasn’t called, a foul on Yordy [Reyna] that wasn’t called. Then it came wave after wave and it has to be better. I never criticize the refs, but I’m just saying – you go watch the last three minutes of the game and see it for yourself.”
On his message to the team after the match:
“I didn’t say anything yet. I’m going to wait until after the guys shower because I’m pissed.”
On the plan moving forward and a busy stretch in July:
“I’m an emotional guy and I can’t think about that now. We have a day off and then we’ll think about it. It was a tough day also for Canada and for the guys at the national teams so let’s talk about it on Monday.”
On what he saw on the Seattle goal that was called back:
“It’s a rule. The ref should’ve stopped the game. It’s in the book – it’s the rule. When the keeper is down the ref has to stop the game. That’s what happened. Then the kid took a very nice shot, but the rule is stop the game. In that moment it wasn’t stopped.”
On tonight’s game:
“I think we did a lot of things really well. A lot of our build up play was very good. I thought we were able to switch it from one side of the pitch to the other and then go into that final third. It ending up being sort of end to end, especially in the second half. Both teams dropped quite deep. I thought we were able to get ourselves in some very promising, attacking positions without having that final piece of quality. Maybe not quite enough shots on target and real clear cut opportunities. A lot of our play, again, was very encouraging. So it is disappointing, to not come away with any points.”
On playing in Seattle and the toughness of the game:
“It was very end to end. They had their fair share of chances. Obviously we gave up space in wide areas for the likes of Smith and Leerdam to get forward without them really creating too many clear cut opportunities. So I think a lot of our central defending was good. And obviously, we need to find a way to get more shots out. To concede in the last minute like that, it is frustrating. Obviously we have been able to do that to teams in previous weeks. Our ability in the box at times was encouraging but not quite enough. Obviously we need to keep working on that.”
On the Vancouver fans here in Seattle:
“They were incredible. Obviously we saw them kind of trickle in as warm ups convened. Hearing them during the national anthem, they were incredible and they gave us a real boost. To bring four or five hundred down, and obviously have to cross the border, and you know it is a long day for them, a lot of driving, we appreciate it so much and obviously they stayed right until the end. I hope they appreciated the fight we showed, the character we showed and obviously you know we will feel as though we just kind of let them down there at the end.”
On tonight’s game:
“I think it is unfortunate, you know, we did a lot of defending but there were a lot of other good things that we did on the field. You know it was a long week. It is very unfortunate that we have to give up a goal in the 96th minute, but that is kind of how football goes sometimes. We will look at this game and learn from it and move on.”
On the foul and non-goal:
“Yeah, I mean I felt it right away. He kind of just kicked through the ball. I don’t think he meant to get me. He stepped right on my foot. I went down. I thought the referee would call it right away as he saw how much pain I was in. I am glad they looked at it and he saw he stopped me from getting up.”
On moving forward to the next game in LA:
“Just doing the same things over and over again. Consistently getting better. Now we have found ourselves below the red line again and we need to find a way back over it.”
On the game:
“The fans go home happy. The coaching staff, the players – we’re all going to go home happy today. That’s pro sports. Buzzer beaters in basketball, last minute Hail Marys in football – it’s all the same. That’s why sports is a great and entertaining event. Prior to the goal, I thought the game really kind of opened up in the second half. The first half might have been a little cagey and guys getting used to the new turf with some odd bounces. In the second half, you saw two teams really going after scoring. Vancouver was hitting back, defending and countering and pretty effective there. Our guys were getting after it and we were trying to score and trying to make a play.”
On the Seattle goal that was called back:
“I was told that they were looking at it for a foul on Justin Dhillon. Obviously I’ll have to see multiple replays. I only saw the one that we put up on the [videoboard]. I don’t even know if that’s legal, but it was up there for everybody to see. It didn’t look like a foul to me. Again, I’ve always said this: referees have a very difficult job. It’s a tough task and sometimes when it looks like a foul to me might not look like a foul. They have to make decisions. We might agree with them and we might not and we move on. It’s just part of pro sports.”
On the response from the team:
“The response from Kelvin [Leerdam] and the rest of the guys is what made me happy. They’re booing [Zac] MacMath, but maybe they should’ve been booing the ref or someone else. It just made the atmosphere in the building. This was one of the games where we opened up the building and we had a ton of people making a bunch of noise. I think the whole atmosphere here was great. And for the home team to win late made it exciting for everybody.”
On the debuts of Sounders players:
“I would congratulate Justin on his first MLS start. I would congratulate [Alfonso] Ocampo-Chavez on his first MLS minutes. I would congratulate Danny Leyva on his first MLS goal. I thought all three of them were great. You saw the enthusiasm that Ocampo had at the end of the game. You saw all the work that Justin did during the course of the game. And a lot of you guys don’t realize that Danny Leyva actually played 120 minutes on Monday for our U-19 academy team. So for that kid to go 120 minutes on Monday in a high-caliber tournament and then come back on Saturday to make his first start after a regen day, a travel day and a couple of training days…I thought was tremendous.”
On Danny Leyva’s performance:
“I’m not going to label him a defensive midfielder. Danny Leyva is his own man, young player, whatever you want to call it. He’s still developing. I don’t think he’s a true No. 6 as witnessed by his ability to pick his head up and get a ball over a bunch of players and into the back of the net. I think a lot of guys don’t have that ability if you’re labeled as a true No. 6. I think he has some attacking flair. Some of his passing was very clean. I was really impressed with the kid and kudos to him. Kudos to Gonzo because Gonzo does all the work with the midfielders. As a soccer fan, it’s been great to see.”
On tonight’s game:
“I thought I did really well. Provided another option for this team, one I think we have been needing. I thought I got the better of their left back for the majority of the game and created some good chances for us in the first and second half. So I thought it was a good performance for me.”
On your confidence against the left back:
“That was my instruction. They just said go at him, go at him, so that is what I tried to do. Early in the game I just wanted to settle into the game, maybe get a few, connect a few passes and then after that it was like, I’m going to go at you every time, so that is kind of what I did.”
On the sparks with the left back:
“I mean I didn’t really know what it was about. I think he was really the more frustrated of the two. So I just tried to stay calm and just keep playing and try not to get into it with him.”
On your thoughts on getting the opportunity to start tonight:
“Yeah, like you said, I have had to work really, really hard to get this opportunity so I was determined to make it count. I was bummed I wasn’t able to get an assist or a goal on the night but I thought I had a very good performance, the team played really well and we got three points so that is really important.”
On his overall thoughts on the match:
“I thought it went pretty well. Obviously with the goal, I was happy for like, 30 seconds, but sadly it got overruled. I thought overall the game went pretty well for us and I helped the team a lot so I thought it was a good debut.”
On the thoughts he had before and after scoring his disallowed goal:
“I just saw the keeper on the ground so I just said, ‘I’m going to chip it,’ and luckily it went in the net. I was very happy in the moment once I scored. I just ran to the corner to celebrate. Obviously I was happy for 30 seconds until they overruled it, then I was really mad but you have to keep going with the game. The score was still 0-0 and we had to go for the win.”
On his instructions for the night from Head Coach Brian Schmetzer:
“He gave me a lot of confidence putting me next to Gustav [Svensson] and a lot of experience with him, so he just told me to recover balls and distribute, just to play my game as always and give me all the confidence.”
On his match-winning goal:
“The ball was on the left side. Brad [Smith] had a combination with Harry [Shipp]. I don’t know if he tried to shoot or pass, but the ball came to me, so I turned to the goal and shot. Simple.”
On the dynamic of the first half of the match:
“It was not an easy game. There was space, but the ball didn’t move quickly enough with our team. We didn’t create too many chances. But Vancouver didn’t try to attack really and they just sat back and waited for mistakes and try to hit us on the counter, but in this kind of game we have to move the ball quickly.”
On the halftime instructions from Head Coach Brian Schmetzer:
“Schmetz wanted us to switch sides quicker, to create 2v1s on the flanks. I think we can still do it better. We trained at it this week but when the game comes, it’s all about making decisions, and obviously we weren’t quick enough making those decisions.”