VANCOUVER, BC – They certainly went down with a fight.
Vancouver Whitecaps FC (9W-15L-8D) were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday evening at BC Place, falling 2-1 to Seattle Sounders FC (13W-13L-5D) in a spirited Cascadia derby that saw both teams shown red cards in the second half.
It was a wild one, to say the least.
After Pedro Morales opened the scoring on a 25th-minute penalty kick, Seattle leveled the match through Osvaldo Alonso in the 39th minute. Then, after Morales was ejected, Brad Evans scored the eventual winner on an 81st-minute penalty – shortly before he too was ejected.
Carl Robinson promised “blood, sweat, and thunder” on Sunday.
He got two of the three.
The ‘Caps came out firing in front of a crowd of 24,837. Robinson opted for a new look, with Christian Bolaños playing centrally as an attacking midfielder for the first time this season.
And it looked pretty good in the early going.
Budweiser Man of the Match Alphonso Davies, in particular, caused some problems with his pace and creativity on the right wing, setting up Matias Laba on the counter in the fifth minute and then combining beautifully with Erik Hurtado and Jordan Smith a little later.
Morales also hit the post from distance in the 18th minute, before eventually opening the scoring on a 25th-minute penalty kick. Davies drew the PK after turning the corner on fullback Oniel Fisher, who was subbed into the match after an early Alvaro Fernandez injury.
It was a deserved lead for Vancouver, but Seattle responded in the 39th minute when Alonso finished a Joevin Jones cross at the centre of the box.
The ‘Caps had a few chances to regain the lead late in the first half. Bolaños broke into the box and forced a Stefan Frei save and Davies found Jordan Harvey at the back post with a cross from the right, but the score remained level heading into the break.
This one was far from over.
Seattle took control in the 53rd minute, when Morales was sent off for what referee Ricardo Salazar deemed to be an elbow to the face of Cristian Roldan.
Then, after Harvey was whistled for a handball in the box while attempting to block a cross, Evans scored the game-winner on an 81st-minute PK. Three minutes later, Evans saw red for what appeared to be an attempted head-butt on David Edgar.
It was an old-fashioned derby match. That’s for sure.
Unfortunately for Whitecaps FC, it ended in heartbreak.
The ‘Caps need to beat Portland by at least three goals to win the Cascadia Cup. Any other result would see the Timbers lift the trophy, awarded annually to the team with the best head-to-head record in regular season matches between their Pacific Northwest rivals.