Third Time’s Not the Charm: Vancouver Whitecaps continue 2020 struggles against Sounders with 2-0 loss

In their third meeting of the season, the Vancouver Whitecaps completed a rare hat trick – a hat trick of losses against the same team in the same season – as they lost to the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday. Here is our match report from that one, as the ‘Caps failed to build off of a win over San Jose on the weekend. 

At least they don’t have to play them again. 

For the third time this year, the Vancouver Whitecaps took on the Seattle Sounders, and for the third time this year, they lost by 2 or more goals, as Seattle cruised to a 2-0 victory on Tuesday. 

It was a lot closer than the last two games they had, as they did well to manage the first half against the Sounders, but Seattle pulled away with two goals early in the second stanza, and the ‘Caps would be unable to overturn that deficit. 

Now, with only two games left in the season, things are looking tight for the ‘Caps, who narrowly sit at the bottom of the MLS Western Conference playoff picture. 

To start the game, the Whitecaps made 7 changes to the lineup that beat the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, as they had to go rotation-heavy with only 2 days of rest between games. 

Theo Bair, Ryan Raposo, Russell Teibert, Cristian Gutierrez, Derek Cornelius, Andy Rose and Michael Baldisimo all slotted in as a result, replacing Lucas Cavallini, Fredy Montero, Cristian Dajome, Leonard Owusu, Erik Godoy, Jake Nerwinski and Ali Adnan. 

As a result, the ‘Caps starting lineup would be very Canadian-heavy, as they started an impressive 7 Canadian players for the first time in their MLS history. 

On the other side, the Seattle Sounders made 3 changes to the side that drew the Portland Timbers last week, as Gustav Svensson, Xavier Arreaga and Raul Ruidiaz all came in for Shane O’Neill, Jordy Delem and Will Bruin. 

After having played a few weeks without Ruidiaz, Svensson and Arreaga due to their international break-related absences, it was a big boost for Seattle to get those players back, allowing them to play with their full-strength lineup. 

But despite the supposed imbalance between the two teams, the ‘Caps would hold strong to start off the game, pushing back despite their heavily rotated lineup. 

As a result, the game would remain without any big chances throughout the first 35 minutes, much to the pleasure of the ‘Caps. 

The first solid chance of the half would come in the 35th minute, as Raul Ruidiaz would be first to reach a cross from Nouhou Tolo, just heading the ball wide of Evan Bush’s goal. 

To end the half, Seattle would mount up a solid wave of pressure, causing the ‘Caps wall to bend a bit. 

Kelvin Leerdam nearly scored a thumping header off of a Jordan Morris in the 45th minute, but Derek Cornelius did a great job at blocking the shot, sending it just onto the roof of his own net. On the ensuing corner, the ball found its way to Ruidiaz at the back post, and he sent a looping header towards goal, but his shot was just clasped out by Evan Bush. 

At half time, it was a dream result for the ‘Caps, who were looking to keep things as tight as possible with so many of their big names out of the lineup. It wasn’t pretty, but they did what they had to, and with so many of their names ready to come off of the bench, it felt like there was a chance they could get something out of this game. 

But unfortunately for Vancouver, their plan would quickly go up in smoke, as Seattle found some life to start the second half. 

First, Nouhou Tolo would find some space down the left wing, before whipping in a low ball to Raul Ruidiaz, who deftly chipped Evan Bush from close range to open the scoring. While it seemed like he was close to being offside on the build-up, the goal would stand, giving Seattle a deserved lead. 

Soon after, the Sounders would add their second, as Ruidiaz decided to then play provider in the 55th minute, setting up Nicolas Lodeiro for a nice cut back at the top of the box, which the Uruguayan would make no mistake in finishing. 

Much like when these teams last met, the ‘Caps had done so well to keep the Sounders out of the game for the first 45 minutes, but they were unable to handle the early second-half push from Seattle, leading to the flood of goals. 

Unlike last time, however, the Whitecaps stayed in the game and avoided conceding a third, as they pushed for a possible equalizer. They’d be unable to muster up any chances, though, at least not until the 82nd minute, when Ali Adnan forced a save from Stefan Frei off a free-kick from distance. 

On the other hand, they failed to muster up much aside from that, as their only other chance would be a hopeful Cavallini bicycle attempt in the 95th minute that went wide, leaving Seattle to cruise to an easy victory. 

It was far from a surprising result, especially when you consider the lineups both teams put out there, but it has to hurt for the ‘Caps knowing that they stayed right in the game as long as they did. 

Ultimately, their plan was to keep fresh for the last two games of the season, something they can still do despite this loss, but at the same time, any sort of points they could’ve gained in this one could’ve gone a long way towards their quest to make the playoffs. 

Man of the Match: Derek Cornelius

Cornelius goes up for a header against Montreal in September (Keveren Guillou)

It’s always hard to pick a man of the match in a loss with so many substitutions, but in this one, our vote will go to Cornelius. 

He and his defence will want to get those two goals back, but Cornelius did well to help keep the game tight in the first half, and he had some strong moments in the second half. 

After not having played for a few games, he shared a very good account of himself out there, putting himself in contention for more minutes in these last few games. 

BTSVancity Player to Watch: Janio Bikel

Bikel goes in for a tackle against the Timbers last month (Craig Mitchelldyer/Vancouver Whitecaps)

Unfortunately for Bikel, his record when he played this season dropped to 6W-4L-0D, as he was unable to help his team find another result. 

He was still solid, doing well out at right back, which was a change from the usual spot in midfield, mostly putting in a no-nonsense performance. 

You do have to wonder where he was on the first goal, but aside from that, he didn’t really set a foot wrong, which is what you expect from someone in his position. 

Heatmap of the Game:

Let’s just say this wasn’t that surprising, but it still hurts to see the ‘Caps struggle to penetrate the Sounders backline. 

That was to be expected against one of the best defences in the league, but at the same time, you did the ‘Caps to push a little more at ‘home’ than they did in this one. 

Looking Forward:

So for the ‘Caps, they’ll want to prove that the rest they had to give to their players will pay off, starting with the game against the Portland Timbers on Sunday. 

It won’t be easy, as the Timbers have been on a nice run of form as of late, but so have the ‘Caps, at least aside from this result, as they did come into this one having won 3 of their last 4. 

With the race for the playoffs being as tight as it is, it’ll be massive for the ‘Caps to get anything out of that game, especially knowing that they only have 1 game left after that one.

Much like in this one, if they lose, it won’t directly cost them in the race, but they’re at the stage of the season where they need points if they want to make the playoffs, especially with only two games left in the season. 

Up Next: Vancouver Whitecaps vs Portland Timbers, Sunday, November 1st, 2020, 19:00 PST (Providence Park, Portland) 

One thought on “Third Time’s Not the Charm: Vancouver Whitecaps continue 2020 struggles against Sounders with 2-0 loss

  1. So you think a rest will help them with the timbers? Who cares a laughing stock is what vancouver and i mean the entire apologising bunch of youse has become . This miserable season ends like the last ..hopeless i think youve been lucky playing to fans caught up in the hype. But why would fans come watch next year ? I gave up years ago i had season tix for 3 loosing seasons each year in the middle of the season you would trade a key player and then fade out of contention this club is in need of a cleanout Upstairs not at the field level you embarass this city and yourselves . I am not your fan vancouver Lenarduzzi & Company step down ffs before theres nothing left to save losers

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