Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wondergoal Capped Off The Renewal Of Cascadia Derby

There was no shortage of fireworks as the Vancouver Whitecaps met their longtime rivals, the Seattle Sounders, for the 112th time ending the match in a 2-2 draw.  It looked like a devastating result for the Caps as they allowed the Sounders to score within a few minutes to take a one goal lead before Eric Hassli scored a goal for the ages to secure a point at Qwest Field.  In the first half Hassli opened the score with a penalty kick that was earned after Camilo was fouled in the box by Alonso of the Sounders.

There was a definite difference in the opening minutes of the match as the Caps pressed the Sounders from the beginning of the whistle.  In the first fifteen minutes of the match the Caps came close on a couple of chances as first Camilo, from thirty yards out, forced Kasey Keller into making a good save and then a couple of minutes later Salinas was sent in alone but put the shot wide of the post.  About five minutes later Joe Cannon was forced into a nice save as he tipped a shot from Osvaldo Alonso over the bar.

In the 28th minute, after a great pass by Brovsky, Camilo made a run into the box where he was fouled by Alonso and earned the Caps a penalty which was coolly converted by Hassli, who ran over to salute the Vancouver supporters, to give Vancouver the lead.  The Sounders came close to tying the score before the half as Mike Fucito was sent in alone on Cannon but fired the ball wide of the net.  It was a perfect start for the Caps on the road as they took a lead into halftime and played their type of game.

The Caps played the ten to fifteen minutes of the second half positively with good runs down the wings especially by Shea Salinas.  However from about the 60th minute and on the game and possession belonged to the Sounders as they applied pressure to try to draw the score even.  Then the worst case scenario occurred for the Caps as the Sounders within three minutes scored twice to take the lead as Rosales converted on a cross in the 81st and Alonso scored from distance in the 84th minute.

It looked as though this match would be another for the loss column but in the 85th minute Eric Hassli scored a wondergoal that within minutes was being labeled as the ‘Goal of the Year’ (so far).  Hassli was able to take advantage of the bad giveaway by Alonso as he took a touch and then volleyed the ball into the back of the net.  Both teams had attempts to get the full three points but there were no more goals as one point for each team was all there would be this night.

A week of training made a major difference as these Whitecaps tonight were a much different team than the one that played last week in Utah.  The support of 500 plus Vancouver supporters seemed to help the new Caps understand the importance of this rivalry.  In this week's match, especially in the first half, the players had their best opening 45 minutes of the season on the road.  When the pressure did come in the second half the backline was able to absorb it expect for between the 80th and 84th minute.  A bad bounce off of Akloul’s head and a bad giveaway by Vagenas were the culprits in the Caps relinquishing their lead. 

The attack for Vancouver showed more promise against Seattle and their backline played solid despite the two goals allowed.  The midfield, especially centrally is a concern as the Caps still have a difficult time to maintain possession in the middle of the pitch.  Their play in this match is definitely something that can be used in their future matches as they attempt to climb the standings.  After the three game road trip the Whitecaps return to Empire Field on June 18th to face the Philadelphia Union for the second time this season.

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