Report and Reaction: Whitecaps blow lead twice in derby loss to Sounders

Report and Reaction: Whitecaps blow lead twice in derby loss to Sounders

Vancouver Whitecaps twice blew the lead in a disappointing 3-2 derby day loss to Seattle Sounders at BC Place on Saturday night, in a match that could prove pivotal depending how the rest of their season plays out in the ever-tightening MLS Western Conference.

The visitors were full value for their win in the end and looked the far better team in the second half. Goals from Ranko Veselinovic and Ryan Gauld had seen the ‘Caps go ahead twice, only for a pair of goals from Leo Chu to peg them back each time. Matthias Laborda was sent off for Vancouver in the 90th minute and before the ten men could fully regroup Yeimar fired home a stoppage time winner, to give the visitors their first victory in Vancouver since 2018 and massively increase the pressure on the Whitecaps, who need a big response in their next couple of matches.

Vanni Sartini made three changes from the team that lost in KC last weekend, going with a 3-4-2-1 formation and handing Levonte Johnson his first MLS start in an unfamiliar wingback role.

Both teams had a slow start with the first real chance of the game falling to Sebastian Berhalter, whose fierce 25 yarder brought out a top drawer acrobatic save from Stefan Cleveland, who was in goal for the Sounders for the injured Stefan Frei.

The breakthrough finally came in the 24th minute when Veselinovic made a great run to meet a Gauld free kick and flick home a header to the back post.

The ‘Caps came close to doubling their lead 10 minutes later off another set piece, but Laborda’s far post header cannoned off the woodwork.

Seattle had their best chance of the game so far three minutes later when Raul Ruidiaz superbly met a cross in from the left from Alex Roldan, bringing out a save from Yohei Takaoka.

Vancouver had the ball in the net a minute later from a Brian White header but the flag went up immediately for offside.

The Sounders had two penalty shouts for handball in a frantic scramble to end the half, but neither were given after a video review and the ‘Caps went into the break with a narrow, but deserved lead.

Vancouver were looking and feeling comfortable to start the second half but slowly and surely Seattle were coming more into game.

Chu was getting acres of room on the left and the Sounders were starting to find him, as he saw a shot across goal tipped over by Takaoka in the 58th minute.

Two minutes later, the visitors were level.

The Sounders kept the pressure on and won a corner on the left. Nicolas Lodeiro’s kick was flicked on by Jackson Regan and Chu was left unmarked a few yards out to fire home the equaliser.

The goal breathed new life into Seattle, who started to dominate possession, but from nowhere, against the run of play, and immediately after making two substitutiosn, Vancouver went back in the lead in the 72nd minute.

It was wonderful route one stuff, with Takaoka’s long goal kick headed on by White for Gauld to chase down. The Scot bore down on goal and slotted it past Cleveland to give the ‘Caps a 2-1 lead.

Their lead was to be short-lived and Seattle tied it up just four minutes later from another set piece and the same combination.

This time it was a free kick that Lodeiro sent into the box. Ragen rose well to head down into the six yard box, where Chu was waiting to slide home another leveller.

Both sides will have felt confident they could grab a late winner, but the momentum seemed to have swung back to the Sounders.

White had a chance for the ‘Caps in the 82nd minute, but Cleveland came up with another crucial save and that was to be as good as it got for the home side before the gamechanging moment came in the 90th minute.

Laborda picked up a second yellow for a challenge on Chu. It was a soft yellow to get a red for, but he did stop Chu breaking up the wing with the tackle, albeit with minimal contact.

You knew that would put the pressure on the ten-man ‘Caps for the remainder of the match, but before they could even regroup they agonisingly fell behind from the resultant free kick.

The ball came to Chu, who saw his shot saved by Takaoka. The rebound fell into the path of Yeimar, who drilled home from 12 yards out, for what proved to be the match winner.

A horruble ending for the Whitecaps and a match where you already feel you will come back to as a decisive game of the season if Vancouver don’t end up as a playoff team.

The ‘Caps poor away form has made every home point a prisoner. Dropping two would have been bad enough, but acceptable against a top three team, but coming away with nothing and dropping all three feels massive. As now do the two home games coming up over the next week, where nothing less than a maximum six points can be seen as acceptable.

All of a sudden that great victory and performance at LAFC seem an age ago and the pressure has turned up dramatically on Vanni and his side. They’re still clinging onto the ninth and final playoff place by their fingernails, but with those around them getting better and getting results, the will soon need to become road warriors to stay there, and that is already based on them taking basically every home point available to to them from now on. A tall order.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 3 Seattle Sounders

ATT: 16,399

24’ – VAN – Ranko Veselinović (Ryan Gauld)
60’ – SEA – Léo Chú (Jackson Ragen, Nico Lodeiro)
72’ – VAN – Ryan Gauld (Brian White, Yohei Takaoka)
76’ – SEA – Leo Chu (Jackson Ragen, Nico Lodeiro)
90’+1 – SEA – Yeimar Gómez Andrade

Possession: VAN 34.1% – SEA 65.9%
Shots: VAN 12 – SEA 15
Shots on Goal: VAN 5 – SEA 6
Saves: VAN 3 – SEA 3
Fouls: VAN 15 – SEA 7
Offsides: VAN 1 – SEA 1
Corners: VAN 8 – SEA 7

VANCOUVER: Yohei Takaoka; Mathías Laborda, Ranko Veselinović, Luís Martins; Ryan Raposo (Tristan Blackmon 71’), Alessandro Schöpf (Jean-Claude Ngando 90’+3), Sebastian Berhalter (Déiber Caicedo 90’+3), Levonte Johnson (Simon Becher 83’); Ryan Gauld, Sergio Córdova (Pedro Vite 71’); Brian White [Substitutes not used: Thomas Hasal, Karifa Yao, Russell Teibert]

SEATTLE: Stefan Cleveland; Alex Roldan (Cody Baker 90’+3), Yeimar Gómez Andrade, Jackson Ragen, Nouhou; Obed Vargas, João Paulo; Nico Lodeiro, Albert Rusnák, Leo Chu; Raúl Ruidíaz (Abdoulaye Cissoko 90’+5) [Substitutes not used: Andrew Thomas, Fredy Montero, Héber, Reed Baker-Whiting, Josh Atencio, Dylan Teves]




On the game and on the three goals conceded:

“The game in general, it was a beautiful game, a beautiful game of soccer, to be honest. Every team had a lot of chances. They scored off a set-piece but we scored on set pieces too. And the third one was on the throw-in where Cleveland made a fantastic save, and it could have been us 3-2. We’ve been very naïve on the second goal. I think the first goal, you know, when someone jumps in front of you, there’s a lot of traffic and they’ve been kind lucky. But I’m very pissed on the second goal for a lot of things, because we had the ball, complete control, we gave it away, foul, then we didn’t shift. We worked the week, we know that they had Jackson Ragen there, and we had to shift and go there to win the ball and we didn’t. And the third one, it was like [Nico] Lodeiro made magic, but also I strongly disagree with the call of the referee [on the second yellow card to Laborda].”

On the lessons the team has to learn from tonight:

“The biggest takeaway is that against a quality, quality team, you cannot allow yourself to be casual, like we’ve been in the second goal. We have like a minute and a half of being casual. Being casual, losing the ball, and being casual in not putting ourselves in the right positions in the set-plays.”


On the match:

“Disappointing to concede three at home, three from set pieces. When you’re conceding three at home you’re obviously doing something wrong. We’re going to have to look back at that game because I think there’s a lot that we can improve on. We’re just going to have to be a lot better for Wednesday.”

On the defending:

“When we talk about defending, it’s all of us, it’s not just the defenders. Up top we were struggling to figure out the pressure, and they had a lot of the ball. They didn’t really create much from that, but I think it’s pretty clear the three goals had come from set pieces and we need to be better.”


On conceding set-piece goals:

“We actually conceded from three set pieces, that’s something that we have to talk a lot for the next game, Wednesday. Austin is also really good, they have high players so they’re going to do the same. But I think we have to see what can happen more to not allow so many set pieces, you know, during the game, to see why we drop so much in the second half.”

On the pressure on the team after losing the last two games:

“The pressure now is higher. It’s still tight, its going to be tight to the last round, but we need those, especially, we know we have the stretch later in the season with seven away games, so these two games are really important. We’re going for the six points, we need, before the Leagues Cup, to be in a good position for the last, I don’t know, 12 games or something like that.”


What did you see in the two potential handball calls in the 43rd minute? Did VAR ask you to hold?

Both potential handball decisions were not deemed handball offenses by the referee. The VAR checked both and deemed that there was no clear and obvious error made.

Authored by: Michael McColl

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