Crunch time: Seattle Sounders suffer playoff setback at Vancouver Whitecaps

With their own playoff odds lengthening rapidly following three straight losses in late August and early September, the Whitecaps flashed startling ferocity in all phases of the game from the opening whistle despite, unlike their guests, having played at midweek. With Seattle enjoying most of the possession, VWFC pressed tenaciously and hunted for second balls, winning an eye-popping 15 tackles on the night compared to just one for the Sounders.

The reward came via Vite’s 29th-minute opener, a swift, prettily-constructed passing sequence – a “soccer orgasm,” in the memorable words of head coach Vanni Sartini – graced by sterling work in particular from their Scottish Designated Player Ryan Gauld. Minutes later Gressel latched onto a half-clearance of a long throw-in with a stunning full volley that built a hill too tall for the North American champions to climb.

“They didn’t throw anything at us that was unexpected. I believe that we didn’t quite match their intensity,” said Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer postgame, after a two-game win streak was snapped. “ … We started off with decent possession, but were our goal-scoring chances really that good, that high? Maybe not. But we had some half-chances, some balls bouncing around their box, everything. … Once they scored the goal, I felt our team played a little bit undisciplined after we went down 1-0, and certainly at 2-0 down, I think players were so driven to try and do something to get us back in the game it actually hurts us.”