A long run of mix-and-match lineups seemed to catch up to the Seattle Sounders on Saturday when they fell to the Vancouver Whitecaps, 1-0, before a sellout crowd of 22,500 at B.C. Place.
The Sounders went into the match without five regular starters. Forward Obafemi Martins did not travel due to a hamstring injury. Forward Clint Dempsey and right back DeAndre Yedlin had not yet joined the club after their World Cup duty with the U.S. national team. Midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda were out due to yellow-card accumulation.
Reserve goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann also did not travel due to a hamstring injury.
“It doesn’t matter who’s missing, it’s talking about the players who played,” coach Sigi Schmid said. “We had enough quality out on the field to get a result.”
The Whitecaps controlled the early minutes, mostly with their speed. But they broke into the lead with power when Sebastian Fernandez launched a shot from about 28 yards out. Goalkeeper Stefan Frei hardly had time to turn his head and watch it go into the top right corner.
That quickly ended the Whitecaps’ run of being shut out in back-to-back games. And it turned out to be the only goal Vancouver (6-3-7) needed.
When Schmid went to his bench, he turned to veteran Cam Weaver, rookie Aaron Kovar and Tristan Bowen in his club debut. But the Sounders couldn’t get onto the scoreboard.
Seattle remains atop MLS even after its record fell to 11-4-2. However, the Whitecaps extended their lead in the Cascadia Cup competition, moving to 2-0-1 while Seattle fell to 0-1-2 and Portland remained at 0-1-1.
The Sounders return to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, meeting the Portland Timbers in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup at Starfire Sports Stadium in Tukwila.
Seattle returns to MLS and Cascadia Cup action at 7 p.m. July 13 when the Timbers visits fully opened CenturyLink Field.