The Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders rivalry go back decades.
Both clubs were born in 1974 as part of the NASL and eventually clashed with each other in USL First Division. Now, the Whitecaps and Sounders are clashing in MLS. These games are always special. They bring huge crowds and intense actions.
The Whitecaps have not had the best record over the Sounders in the last five years and have only beaten them once in that period. That was a 2-1 win in September of 2022 at BC Place.
Heading into Saturday’s match, the Sounders were first in the West and this was a statement win from the Whitecaps.
Simply put, this was the Whitecaps’ best performance of the season to date.
The high press which has been a strength of the Whitecaps this season was non-existent in the last two matches. Against Seattle, it returned in a big way.
Vancouver was all over the Sounders ball carriers and were eager to take it back very quickly “That’s my mission” is probably what they were thinking. The passes were accurate and they looked threatening coming down the flanks in the attack.
You couldn’t really say the same for Seattle. They only had one shot on target and most of their chances were wide of the net. It also didn’t help that players such as Jordan Morris and Fredy Montero were in the pockets of Tristan Blackmon and Mathias Laborda.
Speaking of Laborda, funny how he excels when he is playing his natural position right? Who would’ve thought? The Uruguayan defender made some great tackles and clearances. As for Blackmon, he made a lot of smart defensive plays.
Ryan Gauld had his best match of the season and he is starting to look like the Gauld everyone knows he can be. The Scotsman was playing energy and in the 18-yard box was creating plenty of chances. He did score the 2-0 goal but it went off the post and off Stefan Frei’s back and into the net. I don’t care if it’s an own goal, it is still Gauld’s goal to me because it was a well-taken shot. I don’t make the rules, I just think them up and write them down.
Pedro Vite has goals in back-to-back games and that is two goals he has scored against the Sounders in his career. (Last one was in that 2-1 win last September) Vite has been quiet recently (up until he scored last game in Dallas of course) but the young Ecuadorian did a great job of fighting for the ball after his touch failed him from a great cross from Ali Ahmed. (Another great game from him.) He was using his quickness to get around Sounders defenders and he and Gauld were the engines of the attack.
Luis Martins has been heavily criticized by myself and Nathan Durec on the Terminal City FC Podcast but Saturday night was his best game as a Whitecap. It helped that he had Blackmon covering for him defensively from the right side but Martins did a good job of tracking back while the Sounders were on the counter. The former Sporting Kansas City man also made a ton of excellent crosses and passes including the assist on Gauld’s goal.
Sebastian Berhalter deserves more love. He is such a smart defensive midfielder. Not only is he good defensively but he has proven he is a great passer. According to Fotmob, he had a 78% passing rate against the Sounders.
Berhalter and Andrés Cubas were a fortress. They were like a castle that couldn’t be breached by the enemy.
What was said
Whitecaps head coach Vanni Sartini was very pleased with the victory.
“Fantastic performance, fantastic victory, we smashed the best team of the Western Conference,”(with LAFC) he said. ” It reminded us how good we are when we do the things we are supposed to do.”
Sartini also had high praise for Berhalter.
“I’m very happy with Sebastian, he’s only 21 but he’s an example of a professional,” he said.
I asked Ryan Gauld about his goal being changed to an own goal.
“It is what it is honestly,” he said. ” I’m not one to care about statistics.”
Pedro Vite also talked about his goal.
Ali (Ahmed) was active in the pressure down the wing, and he saw me in the box,” he said through an interpreter. ” I didn’t get the best touch but I managed to get to the ball.”
Stat of the match
Martins had an 80% pass completion rate (39/49) and he won all his tackles and ground duels. (3/3 on both.)
Build a bonfire
This is quite the stat. It really took the Whitecaps 12 years to beat the Sounders and the Portland Timbers at home in the same season. Cascadia has competition. By the way, they are tied with the Timbers with six points in the Cascadia Cup standings.
Insert Mario victory music
CouchUltras needs to be the Whitecaps’ official tifo maker because he makes great ones. Give Couch Ultras a follow on social media if you haven’t already.
This is a scarf?
It looks like it was made out of a tablecloth.
MUST TWEET ABOUT ATTENDANCE
I can’t imagine being this hyped up to Tweet about attendance but Har is one of a kind folks.
Shoutout to the kids
It was next-gen night at BC Place and it was easily the loudest crowd of the season so far. Making it next-gen night against the Sounders was a great marketing move.
The only challenge now, of course, is to get more fans at BC Place for upcoming home games. Perhaps it is going to take some more creativity.
As Ted Lasso says: Believe
Yes, some things need improving, such as the road record and finishing. But the game against the Sounders proved the Whitecaps can play with the best teams in MLS. There is still a long way to go in the season but this Whitecaps team feels different compared to previous years.
It was a complete performance by every Whitecap on the pitch but it is back to work quickly.
Pacific FC is next in the semi-finals of the Canadian Championship in the quest to defend the Voyageurs Cup. The Whitecaps will hope to not make the same mistakes from the last time they visited Starlight Stadium. That game is on Wednesday and kickoff is at 7:00 pm Pacific.
After that, it is off to face the newcomers to MLS, St Louis SC at CityPark on Saturday. That game is at 5:30 pm Pacific.