Things have sure changed for the Vancouver Whitecaps and their fans in Cascadia Cup matches. After taking over two years to win a Cascadia match after entering MLS, winning derby matches nowadays is becoming a habit for the Blue and White. This past Saturday night was the latest chapter in the Whitecaps versus Seattle Sounders rivalry, and the Whitecaps have now extended their undefeated streak against the Sounders to four matches going back to July 2013.
After a couple of shaky performances immediately after the World Cup break, the Whitecaps needed to get back on track and find the rhythm and chemistry they had going for them earlier in the season.
Enter a Sounders team missing several of regular players for reasons ranging from World Cup duty, suspension or injury. While there is no such beast as an "easy" derby match, the Whitecaps must have fancied their chances playing a depleted Seattle team at BC Place in front of their passionate supporters.
To make a long story short, the Whitecaps triumphed over their rivals from Middle Cascadia thanks to a beautifully struck ball from Sebastian Fernandez in the twelfth minute. Despite chances for both teams, the Caps managed to hang on for the remainder of the match and not only did the valuable three points from the victory keep Vancouver in the fifth, and final, playoff berth in the MLS Western Conference, but helped the Caps extend their lead at the top of the Cascadia Cup competition.
Now having said all that, let's cut to the chase and review the performances of a selection of the Whitecaps:
David Ousted (B): Ousted faced a Seattle attack sans Obafemi Martins and Clint Dempsey and despite a total of 13 shots unleashed by the Rave Green, our Great Dane was called upon to make only one save all night long. For the rest Ousted was, as usual, a commanding presence in the Whitecaps goal.
Johnny Leveron (B+): after having what can only be described as a bit of a 'mare when Vancouver played the Philadelphia Union at the beginning of June, last night Leveron put in the type performance that endeared him with Whitecaps fans in 2013. Leveron had a very good outing on the Whitecaps' backline and was 3/3 in tackles, 17/17 in clearances and 3/4 in headed duels. Perhaps Johnny has had the run of games in the side that he needed to find his form and with both Jay DeMerit and Andy O'Brien out with injuries this couldn't happen at a better time.
Steven Beitashour (B): Beitashour, who was the sole Whitecap to be called up for World Cup duty, was playing for the first time for Vancouver since returning from Brazil after the Iranian team were eliminated after the end of the group stage. Beitashour was full of energy and having a "proper" right fullback on the backline definitely was a boost the Caps' defensive corps, who have been looking somewhat fragile in recent weeks.
Matias Laba (B+): Laba was another player who certainly did not have his best game when the Caps lost in Colorado last weekend. Last night Laba was back on form doing what he does best: pressuring the opponents, dishing out crunching tackles and disrupting the opponent's passing. Simply put, when Laba has a good night then usually the Caps do as well.
Pedro Morales (B): The Caps' Chilean maestro was not quite himself after the World Cup break, but against a Seattle midfield missing Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda we were treated to Pedro's sublime passing skills. Morales almost got on the score sheet himself in the first half, but his thundering shot went straight to Seattle keeper, Stefan Frei, who was well positioned to make the save.
Erik Hurtado (C+): after splitting the Sounders' defense in the second half, E-Money could not find a decent finish and put the Caps up by two goals. It was, of course, unrealistic to expect Hurtado to keep scoring at the pace he was earlier in the season, but is he doing enough things right out there to start finding the back of the net again soon?
Do you agree with our assessment? If you have something to add to the conversation then please leave a comment in the comment section below!
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