Report and Reaction: Derby day delight for dominant Whitecaps as Sounders self-destruct

Report and Reaction: Derby day delight for dominant Whitecaps as Sounders self-destruct

Vancouver Whitecaps are back on top of the MLS Western Conference, and still Kings of Cascadia, after a dominant display down the I5 in a 2-0 victory against a Seattle Sounders side that lost their composure, lost their defensive sensibilities, and ultimately lost three points.

Jackson Ragen’s red card towards the end of the first half put Seattle in a hole. Second half goals from Ryan Gauld and Brian White, on the back of forcing defensive turnovers, buried them deeper, before Alex Roldan’s horrific challenge on Ali Ahmed sealed their fate.

It was an assured and composed performance from Vancouver. A big confidence boosting three points coming on the back of last week’s home defeat against the Galaxy and one which maintains their 100% record on the road this season.

Looking for their first win in Seattle since 2016, the ‘Caps made three changes to the starting line-up with Bjorn Inge Utvik, Sam Adekugbe, and Pedro Vite all coming in for Matias Laborda, Fafa Picault, and Ryan Raposo.

Yohei Takaoka was called into action five minutes in when he had to get down to a Cristian Roldan shot that deflected goalwards off the ankle of Tristan Blackmon.

The Whitecaps slowly started to come into the game and forced their first save in the 11th minute when Stefan Frei parried away a Vite effort and rebound fell favourably to Nouhou, who cleared the danger.

That was to be the only shot on target in a first half where goalmouth action was at a premium.

Albert Rusnak flashed a shot wide left for Seattle in the 23rd minute before Vancouver responded with a quick breakaway that saw Adekugbe and White not on the same page, as the Canadian’s cutback went behind the advancing American striker.

The first big turning point of the game came in the 38th minute. Ragen went through the back of Gauld, leaving the Scot on the deck as the referee played advantage. As the Whitecaps attack came to nothing, referee Ramy Touchan stopped play, much to the anger of the Sounders players. The stoppage allowed a video review of the tackle, with replays showing Ragen’s studs went down the back of Gauld’s leg. Touchan was called over to the monitor and after a lengthy review of the various angles, sent Regan off.

I do have some sympathy for Ragen here. It wasn’t a malicious challenge, just clumsy, and the length of the video review adds to Seattle feelings of it not being clear and obvious. That said, there was a clear angle that showed the studs going into the back of Gauld, who has six stud marks on his leg as a souvenir, so I don’t know why it took so long, and whether you agree with the new rules or not, by the letter of the current laws, that is a red card offence.

As half time came, both teams had a chance to regroup, but once the second half started there was only going to be one clear winner, and that was Vancouver.

The ‘Caps played the patience game, not wanting to over commit and leave themselves susceptible to a quick counter.

Alessandro Schopf fired over in the 56th minute as Vancouver started to turn the screw, and they got the breakthrough two minutes later after some fantastic high pressing forced a defensive turnover.

Seattle had been living dangerously at the back and were being constantly closed down quickly by Vancouver. They finally buckled under the pressure when Nouhou’s pass out of the box was blocked by Andres Cubas, who in turn played the ball out wide to Sam Adekugbe. His cross into the middle of the box found a wide open Gauld 12 yards out and he buried the ball past Frei to open the scoring.

Finding the breakthrough was always going to be the hardest part for the ‘Caps, but once they had it they looked very comfortable and unlikely to give it up.

They needed a second to really put the game to bed and make life a little more comfortable. They had to wait until the 71st minute to get it and once again it came after the ‘Caps forced a defensive turnover.

This time is was Damir Kreilach who pressured the Sounders defence, forcing Xavier Arreaga to his right and straight into White, who nicked the ball off his foot, running in on goal to fire past Frei and double the Whitecaps’ lead.

That was pretty much game over at that point but the Sounders night went from bad to worse when Alex Roldan was sent off for a horrendous studs into the leg challenge on Ahmed in the 74th minute. Clearly borne out of frustration, it’ll be surprising if he doesn’t get at least another game tagged onto his suspension.

Kreilach nearly added a third for Vancouver in the 79th minute, but Frei produced a superb save to deny the Croatian then dived at the feet of White who was going for the rebound.

The Sounders had a chance to pull one back deep into stoppage time, but Takaoka came up big from Josh Atencio to keep his third clean sheet of the season.

It was an excellent win for the Whitecaps, one which I’ll temper getting too carried away with (not like me I know) due to how awful the Sounders were on the night. What was particularly pleasing was the team bounced back well from last week’s defeat, stuck to their gameplan, which they veered away from before, and their effective high press was on full display.

Back on top of the West, for now, the road warriors are marching on. Can we maybe play every game away from BC Place now?

FINAL SCORE: Seattle Sounders 0 – 2 Vancouver Whitecaps

ATT: 30,550

58’ – VAN – Ryan Gauld (Sam Adekugbe, Andrés Cubas)
71’ – VAN – Brian White

Possession: SEA 38.8% – VAN 61.2%
Shots: SEA 9 – VAN 9
Shots on Goal: SEA 2 – VAN 4
Saves: SEA 2 – VAN 2
Fouls: SEA 8 – VAN 12
Offsides: SEA 2 – VAN 2
Corners: SEA 6 – VAN 3

45’+6 – VAN – Ranko Veselinović
70’ – SEA – Danny Musovski
79’ – VAN – Brian White
85’ – VAN – Andrés Cubas

43’ – SEA – Jackson Ragen
75’ – SEA – Alex Roldan

SEATTLE: Stefan Frei; Alex Roldan, Yéimar Gomez Andrade, Jacksen Ragen, Nouhou; Obed Vargas, João Paulo (Josh Atencio 63’); Cristian Roldan, Albert Rusnák (Danny Musovski 63’), Jordan Morris (Cody Baker 82’); Raúl Ruidíaz (Xavier Arreaga 45’+1) [Substitutes not used:
Andrew Thomas, Jonathan Bell, Léo Chú, Danny Leyva, Dylan Teves]

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Bjørn Inge Utvik, Ranko Veselinović, Tristan Blackmon; Alessandro Schöpf (Sebastian Berhalter 73’), Andrés Cubas, Pedro Vite (Ryan Raposo 74’), Ali Ahmed (Javain Brown 81’); Sam Adekugbe (Damir Kreilach 63’), Brian White, Ryan Gauld (Jay Herdman 81’) [Substitutes not used: Isaac Boehmer, Mathías Laborda, Ralph Priso, Levonte Johnson]




On his team’s first win over Seattle since 2016:

“It’s special. I was still living in Italy in March 2016! So it was a long, long time ago. It’s special also because we didn’t come here [to Seattle] to steal a victory, we fully deserved it.”

On his team’s overall performance:

“First half, we were in charge of the game, being the team that played better, and because we were playing better we received a lot of fouls and that’s the reason why they got two red cards. And of course, it helped that we played with numerical advantage, but I have to say that it’s very tricky when they get a red card at the end of the first half. In fact, if you remember, they had a play at the end of the first half where we risked something on the free kick. So I told the guys to be extremely, extremely, extremely, extremely, focused in the second half, and to do basically something that was counter-intuitive: that is, keep possession a lot and have a lot of patience when we have the ball, and being extremely aggressive when we don’t have the ball, and that’s the reason why we scored the two goals. Being aggressive when we didn’t have the ball, we won twice the ball up high so, I’m really happy.”

On his team’s mentality after a great start to the season:

“Very good, very strong mentality because we’re a very good group, we have top guys, and I think we are confident enough that the setback [from last week] is not going to make us crazy and say ‘okay, what do we do, we have to change everything now’. We just kept the bar steady for the entire week, working on the things that we were supposed to do better and coming here, we were aware that it would be very difficult, but we were ready to be, again, the team that was in charge of the game. And I think it’s a testament of the fact that this team is becoming more mature. The team is becoming more aware that we are a good team, but at the same time, we need to keep being humble, because the only way to keep making points, keep making good performances is having this humility of a small team with the quality and mentality of a big team.”


On winning in Seattle for the first time since 2016:

“It’s a good feeling. We know from experience, all the boys here, it’s a tough place to come. So it’s a good feeling for us.”

On how the team played:

“The red card kind of made Seattle back off a little bit. But even before that, we were looking good on the ball, we still created a couple of openings. We started well, but obviously the red card kind of changed the game a little bit and made them drop off. The pressure a couple of times from Andres [Cubas] and Brian [White] to get the chances and then put them in the back of the net.”

On playing up a man as an advantage:

“I think as long as we don’t rush things. I thought tonight was the best that we’ve been all year moving the ball side to side, keeping the ball, not forcing the issue. Eventually things will open up, albeit we didn’t create that much from our own play, it was more defending well high up. The key thing was just being patient.”


On tying the ‘Caps all-time MLS era scoring record in all competitions:

“Its a nice feeling, obviously. The first and foremost thing is the three points away from home, that was the main objective, the main focus. But, to contribute to that win and tie that record, that’s a big honour. It’s something that will motivate me to score more goals and pass the record.”

On the win in Seattle and the next match at Lumen Field in a month:

“It’s been a long time since we’ve won here, so we wanted to put our best foot forward and do everything we can to get three points. Obviously it was an interesting game with the red cards, the intensity, but it was a huge three points and I think we come back in less than a month, so it’s going to be another intense game. I think they’re going to have a little bit to prove in that sense, so it’s going to be tough and we have to be ready for that, but right now we’ll cherish this moment and move on to the Red Bulls [next week].”



On his team’s reaction after the first red card:

“Jordan [Morris] has a chance in the 50th minute. A couple of moments, but I dunno. What I didn’t like was we were savvy, we were trying to figure out ways to be better… but we talked at half time about long throw ins into the box and just little things to try and change the game, but what I didn’t like was there didn’t seem to be as much determination as there should have been.

“Somebody asked me the question when Joao Paolo got fouled in Dallas, and Stefan Frei gets clobbered, and a couple of other guys get clobbered, and we’re not upset about it. And it’s something that we need to try and change. Guys need to be upset when things happen. Not in the wrong way, because I’m sure someone’s going to ask me about Alex Roldan and that was stupid. That’s not smart. So somewhere we need to have a little bit more emotion… I think the guys tried, they didn’t give up, but it certainly wasn’t a smart performance.”

How do you balance discipline in challenging the players after self-inflicted wounds?

“It’s going to be hard because we have potentially 9 games in 27 days. It’s going to be hard. Normally you would take guys who do not smart things and sit them down and put someone else on. Then if that guys plays well the supposed starter has to think, well geez, I better start playing better. But we’re not going to have that as we’ll need to have everyone available and rotate the squad with all of the games that are coming up, so it’s a little challenging. The message, I’m trying to send it, is that stuff’s not going to happen again. I’ve been through some spells as a coach where your team plays a little bit undisciplined. We’re going to work on that. Some of those things are going to change. But how do you do it? That’s always the trick.”

On his decision to substitute Raúl Ruidíaz on the first half:

“Well, Raúl [Ruidíaz] certainly has been very good so far this year. He put a lot of effort into the game. My decision to keep Jordan Morris on the field is, when you lose a man, a lot of times your opponent gains an advantage and they push you back, and Jordan has speed that, in transition, maybe can help you in certain moments of the game. So, it has nothing to do with Raúl, he’s going to play the next game, and, you know, and he has been very good to us.”


On balancing the mental aspect of the game:

“I think when things are not working for you, you can either sit there and mope and find excuses or try to find another level. The easiest way to do that is to show up and work extra hard. Try to give it your all in everything that you do. I can’t tell you we did this wrong and therefore we lost. But the way we can get out of it is trying to do your best. And that starts on Tuesday, actually it starts now by trying to get away from [the game] and mentally recovering. But come Tuesday when you step on the field, when you get in the gym, when you do your recovery, when you do your hydration, your nutrition, can you do everything to the best of your ability? I believe that if we do, we have a really good locker room, we have really good players. And those talents will shine. And if they don’t, you can hold your hand up high and say we gave it our best. That’s how I look at it and that’s how I will try to pull the team to look at it as a captain, and I will try to motivate players to look at it that way. And hopefully we can grow as individuals and as a team on the practice field so we can have better results on weekends.”


On making sure the season doesn’t get away from the team:

“This next month is going to be the most important month of the season. It could go one way or the other in a way. We’re going to need bodies, we are going to need our depth. We are going to have to rely on every single player on the roster, we got to play a little smarter. I don’t think we’ve made great decisions in the first part of the season. We have to turn the page to the next chapter and dig deep. These are things that are hard to talk about, because I think we’ve had such a good attitude in training, we had a pretty good preseason. I felt like we were going to have a really good season but this is the part of the season where we get to see what we are made of, what players emerge and who becomes a leader. And who follows that leader. So, this is a really important part of our season to dig deep.”

Authored by: Michael McColl

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