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Match Report: Seattle Sounders v. Vancouver Whitecaps

Alphonso Davies was a notable absentee as transfer rumours swirl around the Canadian teenager, while Kendall Waston returned to the lineup.

MLS: Vancouver Whitecaps at Seattle Sounders FC Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been a lot of speculation over the future of Alphonso Davies over the past week, with several European clubs being linked to the teenager, including Huddersfield, Besiktas and most notably, Bayern Munich. The latter of course has been widely mooted as the most likely destination for Davies, and time will tell if we’ve seen the last of him in a Whitecaps uniform.

Meanwhile, the ‘Caps that remain headed to Seattle for a Cascadia Cup clash with much expected of the derby. The form of course as of late has been miserable to say the least, with Vancouver losing 4 out of their last 5 on the trot.

Seattle on the other hand had found some momentum as of late and looked to keep it going against their cross border rivals.

Stefan Marinovic made his long awaited first MLS start since May, and was expected to help shore up the goals that continue to be leaked by Vancouver’s defense. In Marinovic’s absence, Brian Rowe stood in, but averaged nearly 2 goals against per game. Less than remarkable to say the least.

It didn’t take long though for the goals against trend to continue, just 5 minutes in it was Doneil Henry who was adjudged to handle an early cross in the box, with referee Chris Penso awarding the penalty to Seattle. From there Nicloas Lodeiro stepped up, sent Marinovic the wrong way, and converted to make it 1-0 to Seattle.

The first half didn’t provide many highlights from the Whitecaps, with several dangerously positioned free kicks going to waste. Credit the Sounders defense for continually winning their aerial duels, but on the whole the delivery from Cristian Techera and Felipe was poor. There was one bright spot as Kendall Waston got on the end of a corner, but nothing eventually came from the scramble.

As the half progressed, the Sounders continually won battle after battle against the Whitecaps across the pitch. Seattle continued to heap pressure on the backline and Vancouver goal, and in the 31’ minute, Nicolas Lodeiro took a hopeful pop at goal from 25 yards. The flight of the ball was completely misjudged by Stefan Marinovic, who got a hand on the ball but only deflected it into his own net. It was an absolute howler and not what we’ve come to expect from the Kiwi.

The rest of the first half left the Whitecaps grasping at straws, and there was even a glimmer of hope just before the whistle, when Chris Penso initially awarded a penalty for handball. Unfortunately, after video review, it was clear the ball struck Chad Marshall on the shoulder, and not the arm, thus the penalty was waived off.

Moving into the second half, the Vancouver midfield continually struggled to win the ball, or hold their lines. Seattle was taking pot shots, as Lodeiro pushed for his hat trick, and Vancouver’s frustration continued to grow.

On the hour mark, Nicolas Mezquida came in for Cristian Techera, who had been ineffective yet again in attack for the ‘Caps. While hoping a change in attack may create some opportunities to grab a first goal back, instead, the defense continued to struggle with Kendall Waston promptly picking up a yellow shortly after Mezquida entered the fray.

The second substitute was a forced one as Jordon Mutch appeared to pick up yet another injury, and had to make way for Russell Teibert. While it’s nice to see Rusty get some minutes, Mutch’s eye for a pass was not something you wanted to lose when down two goals.

When you look at it, it took until the hour mark for Vancouver to get their first shot on target, and the potential in attack was really lacking. It took another 15 minutes for a chance to fall their way as Kei Kamara knocked down a long ball from Kendall Waston for Mezquida to get onto, unfortunately, the effort from Uruguayan rolled just outside Stefan Frei’s goal post.

As many expected, based on the way it was going, Efrain Juarez got himself sent off in the 77’ following a heavy challenge in the Seattle half. He then immediately ran over to the referee and straight into him, and was rightly dismissed for pushing the official. Frustration can boil over but this was inexcusable from the former Mexican international.

From there the last 15 minutes were about damage limitation. With the ‘Caps already holding one of the worst goals against records in MLS, keeping the scoreline from getting worse than 2-0 was important. If there are any hopes for this team to make the Playoffs, they need to get every tiebreaker they can to go their way, especially before fair play comes into the equation.

What were your takes on the match? If Alphonso Davies moves on before making another appearance, what would you do to reignite the attack? Is there a better way to setup the defense in your opinion that could keep from so many leaked goals?