VANCOUVER— Forward Chad Barrett took the most of his two opportunities to propel the Seattle Sounders past the Vancouver Whitecaps in a nearly flawless performance
away from home.
The 2-0 win at BC Place gave the Rave Green their second win in the season’s Cascadia Cup, following their win over rival Portland Timbers three weeks ago.
The Whitecaps had gone into the game with six clean sheets from the first 11 games, yet it was the Sounders who buckled down defensively and ultimately controlled the tempo of the match.
Barrett, starting in place of the injured Obafemi Martins, saw his first involvement in the game lead to the opening goal just five minutes after kick-off. Clint Dempsey collected a bouncing ball in the center circle before lifting his pass into the path of Barrett’s run. The 30-year-old, making his first start in seven games, split the Vancouver center backs before coolly tapping the ball around Whitecaps keeper David Ousted.
The Sounders set up well defensively away from home, and the midfield presence of Osvaldo Alonso helped sure up the space in front of the back four. Sounders Head Coach Sigi Schmid was full of praise for his midfield and their contribution towards possession.
“We kept the ball better and that’s where [Gonzalo] Pineda and Ozzy [Alonso] did really well for us in the middle of midfield,” Schmid said.
Marco Poppa, who started on the right for Seattle, began to drift inside and show his creativity once Seattle established their hold of the ball. Dempsey also dropped back to collect from midfield, which sprung Lamar Neagle further forward on the left.
The first fifteen minutes saw Vancouver hold 70percent of posession, which didn’t last for long. Knowing they could protect their lead after scoring early, the Sounders took control of the game and had the ball for 65percent in the final 30 minutes of the first half.
As the game went on Poppa’s influence began to grow. More and more he was able to pick up the ball with time, as he did on 38 minutes, again finding the intelligent run of Barrett. The through ball over the top sat nicely for the forward whose presence of mind to know where the goal is allowed him to half volley home a left-footed shot.
Schmid knows the importance of these matches against rivals, especially on the road.
“It’s early in the season, but we wanted to let people know that we’re still here, that we haven’t disappeared,” he said. “I know Dallas and Vancouver have been on the top of the table pretty much from the beginning of the season, but we’re going to let people know that the road still goes through Seattle whenever possible.”
The Sounders now head into a three-match homestay that begins with Sporting Kansas City on May 23.
Chaucer may be reached at [email protected]