VIDEO: Whitecaps, Sounders play to scoreless draw in first leg of MLS West semifinal

Vancouver and Seattle combined for just one shot on target in a scoreless draw

Vancouver Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson suggested in the leadup to Sunday that the first leg of the Western Conference semifinal with the Seattle Sounders might be a chess match.

It turns out he was spot on.

Vancouver and Seattle combined for just one shot on target in a scoreless draw where both teams were content to play cautiously and avoid the big mistake at B.C Place Stadium.

“It was important we didn’t concede,” said Robinson. ”That was the mindset.”

Vancouver, which missed Major League Soccer’s playoffs by eight points last season, and Seattle, winners of the 2016 MLS Cup, will tangle in the second leg of the two-game aggregate series on Thursday at CenturyLink Field.

A tie with scoring in Seattle will be enough for the Whitecaps to advance on the away goals rule, while another 0-0 draw would mean extra time. A Sounders victory by any margin will see them move on.

“I didn’t want to give anything away in the home leg,” said Robinson. ”The football wasn’t brilliant. I thought we possessed the ball very well in the first half without creating shot after shot, but they didn’t have anything either.”

The Whitecaps, who finished third in the West standings, were coming off the club’s first-ever playoff victory — a 5-0 demolition of the San Jose Earthquakes in Wednesday’s single-elimination knockout round.

The Sounders, meanwhile, won three of their last four to close out the schedule, including a 3-0 home decision over Vancouver on Sept. 27, to grab second in the conference and secure a bye to the semis.

“I actually wish we would have pressed the issue a little bit more,” said Seattle head coach Brian Schmetzer. ”Vancouver’s too good of a team for us to just sit in and defend.”

The Whitecaps had to make two big changes to the starting lineup that thumped the Earthquakes, with crucial offensive pieces Yordy Reyna and Cristian Techera forced to the bench after picking up injuries against San Jose.

“I would have played the same team (as Wednesday) if those guys were fit,” said Robinson. ”But they weren’t.”

Brek Shea and Nosa Igiebor, who only signed last month and made his second appearance, slotted into midfield alongside Christian Bolanos in support of striker Fredy Montero.

The Sounders were without leading scorer Clint Dempsey after he was red carded in the club’s regular-season finale.

Seattle defender Chad Marshall rose to head the match’s one and only shot on target in the 48th minute, but Whitecaps goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic was there to make a comfortable save.

Reyna subbed on in the 62nd minute to raucous applause before Techera joined the fray in the 76th, but their introductions did little to add any more attacking flair to a game that seemed destined to end 0-0 from the early stages.

“Tonight was a bit of a mess,” said Vancouver right back Jake Nerwinski. “We can get a little bit more going forward next match. We didn’t really have that much.”

Things got heated in the 83rd minute with the Whitecaps clearly annoyed at what they viewed as time wasting by the Sounders, with Vancouver captain Kendall Waston in the middle of it.

Robinson’s team has feasted on getting offence from set pieces this season, and the Welshman felt his team wasn’t given as many opportunities as it deserved from referee Kevin Stott.

“I thought he missed four or five clear (fouls),” said Robinson, who also got into a shouting match with Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro. “(Free kicks) are ammunition for us.”

Seattle had the only real opportunity at a breakthrough in the 35th minute when Joevin Jones got in behind Nerwinski and fed a dangerous low cross that Waston rattled off his own crossbar on an attempted clearance for what was nearly a demoralizing own goal.

“(Waston) saved me. I got beat,” said Nerwinski. “I didn’t see it until it hit the bar. I heard it. I’m thankful it didn’t go in.”

The Whitecaps, who wound up a point behind Seattle in the standings, opened most of B.C. Place’s lower bowl, which pushed attendance to 27,837 and created an electric atmosphere that was helped by a strong contingent travelling Sounders supporters, who will be in full voice back home on Thursday night.

“In front of their fans … it’s going to be a lot of pressure for us,” said Vancouver left back Marcel de Jong. “I like those moments, big games. It’s good for us.

“There’s nowhere to hide.”

Notes: Dempsey is eligible to return for the second leg. … The Portland Timbers, ranked No. 1 in the West, visit the No. 4 Houston Dynamo in the first leg of the other conference semifinal on Monday.

—-

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

AdvantageHOPE is working with Boston Pizza to find a franchisee for a Hope location. (Facebook/AdvantageHOPE photo)
Boston Pizza eyeing Hope for new location

With over 395 locations Canada-wide, company is looking to expand to Hope

Left to right: Sardis Kiwanis Club President Bruce Oakley with nominator Peter Somers, Sovereign’s Medal recipient Brian Cleaver, nominator Derek Fryer and nominator Peter Brown. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack’s Brian Cleaver wins Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

Cleaver is a long-time member of the Sardis Kiwanis Club and a strong advocate for Special Olympics

New Chilliwack restaurant moving into supposedly haunted Nowell Street location

Many restaurants have come and gone, Twisted Thistle the most recent, at Nowell and Princess Ave

Hope’s first chainsaw carving of John Rambo is removed from in front of district hall, to save the carving from winter weather. (Rambo ‘First Blood’ Tourism/Facebook photo)
Hope’s Rambo carving tucked away for the winter

Not to worry, the $10,000 statue has not been carted away by thieves

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Stock photo
Pair’s lawsuit dismissed against Fraser Valley soccer association and churches

Judge in Abbotsford calls claims against 14 defendants ‘an abuse of the court’s process’

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Sex offender who viewed underage girls as slaves has prohibitions cut from 20 to 10 years

Appeal court reviewed the case of Kyler Bryan David Williams, 29

Most Read