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

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

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

Just Posted

These Douglas fir logs were found poached in April on Stoney Hill in North Cowichan’s forest reserve. (Larry Pynn/sixmountains.ca)
Fines in forest reserve could increase significantly after illegal logging

North Cowichan considering fines of up to $50,000

North Cowichan’s senior environment specialist Dr. Dave Preikshot (pictured) said there’s a wide spectrum of views on carbon credits. (File photo)
Carbon credits expected to be part of discussions around forest reserve

North Cowichan acknowledges wide range of views on issue

Letters to the Editor.
Snipes prank not worth celebrating

Is another form of bullying deserving of a bronze statue?

Letters to the editor.
Money the B.C. government’s priority over health

Case numbers of COVID-19 don’t seem to back up opening the economy

Police have been kept busy dealing with a crime spree throughout the pandemic in North Cowichan/Duncan and elsewhere. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Worrisome time amid a pandemic

Huge drain on finances, rising criminal activity among the concerns

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read