All’s fair in love and rivalry matches.
Friday night’s Sounders-Whitecaps showdown at CenturyLink was hot blooded from the start, elbows into lower backs and you better watch out for those ankles.
“It was a playoff game tonight,” Seattle right back Brad Evans said. “A lot was on the line for them, so they were throwing bodies around.”
Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said afterward that games refereed by Jair Marrufo always have an extra dose of physicality, and he wasn’t kidding.
Vancouver forward Kekuta Manneh limped off the field shortly after scoring the game’s only goal on the stroke of halftime never to return, and Mauro Rosales had to call it an early night after injuring his hamstring in the second half.
The Whitecaps did everything in their power to make the lead stand.
They threw men behind the ball and packed the middle, though their counterattack maintained its punch throughout. They kept their shape and didn’t allow the Sounders room to work. They also took to … less reputable tactics to bleed the clock, especially goalkeeper David Ousted, who took his each goal kick on his own (slow) pace.
“Adding time is great — and he didn’t cost us the game, don’t get me wrong; the referee did not cost us the game — but if the goalkeeper is going to do that you’ve got to card him,” Schmid said. “That’s the only way it’s going to change. It’s the time, but it’s also the momentum of the game. If you’re taking 30 seconds to every time for a goal kick, and it started in the beginning of the game …”
The CenturyLink howled in frustration, but that didn’t matter to the Whitecaps, who streamed onto the field at the final whistle to collect the Cascadia Cup for the second-straight season. The visitors desperately needed the win to maintain its lead on Portland for the last postseason berth in the West with time running out.
The Sounders can sympathize, as a Galaxy result in Dallas on Sunday afternoon will leave it looking up at its Supporters’ Shield rivals with just two matches to play. Both matches, coincidentally enough, are against L.A., first away, then home.
A Galaxy win or draw on Sunday will force Seattle to get a result in both showdowns and a win in one of them — by any means necessary.
“Nobody said this was going to be easy,” Evans said. “Obviously, everyone is disappointed. At the end of the day, we lose 1-0 to a rival and now we have to have that fire to come back and play another rival back-to-back.”
By the numbers: 30 — total fouls called in Friday’s match: 16 on Vancouver and 14 on Seattle. For a referee that lets a lot of things go, there were still plenty of whistles.
In their own words: “It was emotional and difficult because I love the way they always support me even playing for Chivas or Vancouver. They always are behind my back supporting me and I am just so glad to get (it). That welcome they give to me, it was the first time after a year and I just wanted to say thanks to them and now just focus on the next two games that we have” — Whitecaps midfielder Mauro Rosales on facing his former team.
Up next: Sounders vs. L.A. Galaxy, next Sunday at 5:30 p.m. at the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.