[caption id="attachment_42680" align="alignright" width="480"] Sounders-Whitecaps take pitch on red carpet lined by breast-cancer survivors.[/caption]Seattle Sounders FC got healthier tonight, but little better as they suffered a 4-1 pounding at the hands of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The result came on the heels of a 5-1 loss Saturday at Colorado. It stretched Seattle’s winless streak to four games and also ended a Sounders-record 14-game unbeaten streak at home.
The final whistle brought boos from the CenturyLink Field crowd of 38,833.
Vancouver was led by forward Kekuta Manneh, who scored the game’s first three goals for the first hat trick in the Whitecaps’ MLS history.
His first came in the 12th minute, when he ran through the Seattle defense and slipped a shot just wide of charging goalkeeper Michael Gspurning. Manneh got past the Sounders’ back line again in the 42nd minute, this time beating Gspurning to the near post. The third came in the 54th minute, this time finding space in the middle of the penalty area.
Mauro Rosales got one back for Seattle in the 67th minute, cleaning up after a rebounded ball in front of the Vancouver goal.
Vancouver’s Nigel Reo-Coker ended the scoring with his first of the season, despite the tight company of Alonso and Gspurning getting a hand on the ball.
The pounding played out despite the return of three key Sounders. Forward Obafemi Martins was back in the starting lineup after missing the Saturday loss at Colorado with a hip injury. Clint Dempsey returned after missing three games with a hamstring injury. And Steve Zakuani came on in the 79th minute, seeing his first game action since a groin injury took him out of action in April.
The result drops Seattle to 15-10-6 in MLS. Vancouver rose to 12-11-9 and kept its playoff hopes alive.
The Whitecaps also moved to the top of the Cascadia Cup race at 2-1-3. Seattle (2-2-1) must win Sunday at Portland (0-1-4) to take the Cup.
79' Steve Zakuani returns for first game action since April 20.
69' GOAL Seattle. Mauro Rosales clearning up after some rebounds in the box. Whitecaps, 3-1.
61' Second Seattle sub: Ianni in for Marc Burch.
54: GOAL Vancoucer as Manneh makes it a hat trick and Whitecaps go up 3-0. Some pretty rare boos accompany goal.
52' Hard tackle by Mitchell on Yedlin draws yellow card.
50' Clint Dempsey returns, coming on for David Estrada.
Second half: ... has begun. No changes for either side, but Dempsey, Zakuani and Ianni were on pitch warming up through most of halftime.
Halftime: Vancouver 2-0. If the Sounders cannot make up the difference, they will need a win Sunday at Portland or the Whitecaps will win the 2013 Cascadia Cup. Sounders win it tonight with a win or draw.
42' GOAL Vancouver. Mahheh again running free through the defender. Beats Gspurning to near post this time. Whitecaps, 2-0.
First 30: Sounders have the run of play, but Whitecaps have the 1-0 lead. Seattle's best chance came in 29th minute, as Lamar Neagle put a hard shot on frame from about 20 yards.
12' GOAL Vancouver as Daigo Kobayashi finds Kekuta Manneh past Sounders defense and slips shot past Gspurning from close range. Whitecaps, 1-0.
First kick: ... has been struck. We're under way. Whitecaps in white/white. Sounders in rave/blue.
Lineups: For Seattle: Gspurning; Yedlin, Traore, Hurtado, Burch; Rosales, Rose, Alonso, Estrada; Neagle, Martins. Reserves: Hahnemann, Dempsey, Ianni, Moffat, Remick, Zakuani and Zavaleta.
For Vancouver: Ousted; Lee, Mitchell, DeMerit, Harvey; Reo-Coker, Davidson, Kobayashi, Watson; Manneh, Camilo. Reserves: Knighton, Hurtado, Koffie, Heinemann, Teibert, Klazura, O’Brien.
Pregame: It's a beautiful afternoon at CenturyLink Field, about two hours before the first kick between the Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The basics: 7 p.m. first kick, coverage on KONG 6/16 and -- a switch -- on 710-AM. I'll keep this blog open all evening, and will have more on Twitter @donruiztnt.
Among the stakes today: A Sounders win moves the Sounders to the top of MLS (and of course, the top of the Western Conference) and clinches a playoff spot. A win or draw wins the Cascadia Cup. The Sounders also get into the playoffs if San Jose fails to get the full three points tonight at San Jose.
Vancouver, meanwhile, will be rooting the other way, because it already had six points to make up on the Rapids for the fifth and final playoff spot in the West. And the combination of a Whitecaps loss and Rapids win eliminates Vancouver.
I'll be back with lineups and other news as they come available