The Seattle Sounders earned a big 2-0 victory against the Vancouver Whitecaps at CenturyLink Field thanks to a second-half strikes by substitute Fredy Montero and Eddie Johnson, moving them into second in the Western Conference. It wasn't a classic match by any means against the Sounders' Cascadia Cup rivals, but the hosts dominated from start to finish and definitely deserved their three points.
Games between the Whitecaps and the Sounders are never particularly friendly, and it came as no surprise that we got a severe case of handbags well before any serious sniff of goal. Mauro Rosales was trying to take a free kick when Eddie Johnson and Carlyle Mitchell clashed on the edge of the box, with Johnson accidentally catching the defender in the face while attempting to run around him. Fortunately for the Seattle man, Silviu Petrescu let him off with a warning.
Johnson had a more wholesome sort of impact in the 18th minute, driving through the centre of the pitch and forcing Joe Cannon into a flying stop with a long range shot -- admittedly, one that was hit right down his throat for a corner kick. But the play wasn't all around the Whitecaps' box, with Kenny Miller and Darren Mattocks both seriously threatening Michael Gspurning's goal in the first half.
The Sounders were still by and large the better side, and they turned on the pressure in the later stages of the first half. Brad Evans saw a stinging shot blocked by Cannon following a superb turn by Leo Gonzalez on the left. Then Alex Caskey blew the game's best chance when a flicked pass from Evans found him in space at the top of the box. Instead of shooting immediately or taking a step past the centre back, Caskey fell over, the ball trickling harmlessly past the far post.
Seattle started the second half in much the same vein that they finished the first. Osvaldo Alonso latched onto a cushioned pass from Johnson and forced Cannon into a sprawling save with a low drive, then had a shot blocked from very close range when he looked certain to score. He wasn't the only Sounder with great chances -- Johnson contrived to screw well wide from inside the six yard box when he was left totally unmarked on a cross.
Montero was introduced for Caskey on the hour mark, given the hosts even more impetus on the attack. He made a more or less instant impact when the Whitecaps defence left him unattended on a Mauro Rosales free kick. That turned out to be a big whoopsie -- he was found by a Jeff Parke header and somehow scrambled the ball past Cannon. A deflection helped.
Anyway, that goal made it 1-0 with 25 minutes left to play. Johnson nearly doubled the lead shortly thereafter when Alonso made the most of an advantage call from Petrescu, swinging in a cross that was nicked off its course by Mitchell just before Johnson could intervene. Fortunately for the Sounders, they wouldn't need it, although Mattocks nearly gave them a score when he poked past Gspurning in the 81st minute only to see his strike ruled out for a trip on Parke.
Johnson finally got the goal his play deserved when Alonso found Evans in acres of space down the right. The midfielder looked up and waited for the runs of his forwards, finally sending in a low cross through the six yard box which Johnson turned home at the back post. Vancouver's defence was nowhere to be seen: Montero would have tapped it in instead had Johnson not scored.
That goal killed off the game, and with the Sounders not pushing particularly hard to make it three -- they were rather content with 2-0 and three points, thank you very much -- any further excitement would come from the Whitecaps. Alas, that excitement came in unfriendly form, and the match ended on a sour note when Gershon Koffie decided to take out his frustration over the goals by kicking Andy Rose in the ribs.