Thumped, bumped and outplayed for great stretches, the Sounders nevertheless escaped Vancouver with a 2-2 draw with the Whitecaps Saturday afternoon, thanks to a masterful goal by Fredy Montero in the 90th minute.
The play began with a strong kick from goalie Bryan Meredith to the head of Eddie Johnson, who moved it to Montero at the top of the penalty area. He out-maneuvered two defenders, then boomed a 20-yarder toward the near post that left goalie Joe Cannon no move but to throw up his hands in despair.
The goal preserved the Sounders’ MLS-best unbeaten streak at 7-0-2 on the road, and also kept them without defeat in the Cascadia Cup that began last year with the entry of Vancouver and Portland into the MLS.
After a listless first half where they found themselves down 1-0 following a 12th-minute goal by Alain Rochat, who somehow went 50 yards undefended for the score, the Sounders came out in the second half with a little passion. They had more shots on goal in five minutes than they did the entire first half.
One that mattered, tying the match at 1, started with Montero from the midfield, who fed Mauro Rosales down the right flank. He served up a perfect cross in front of the goal, where Eddie Johnson leaped above the defense with a header that cleared Cannon’s hands above his head.
In a game pickled with finger-pointing, profanity, shoves and trips, the soccer-sellout of 21,000 in newly renovated B.C. Place thought they were cheering a winner when, in the 83rd minute, a free kick from about 30 yards by Camilo amazingly went untouched, sliding around two lunging Whitecaps and bending into the side netting past a late-arriving Meredith. It was the first two-goal game against the Sounders’ defense this season.
But six minutes later came Montero’s draw saver, and the Sounders (7-2-2) averted their first two-match losing streak since March 31, 2011. Vancouver fell to 5-3-3, missing a chance to tie their win mark of a mostly desultory debut season (6-18-10) a year ago.
The game, the first of six Cascadia Cup matches between the three Northwest rivals, was the Sounders’ second in B.C. Place, which received a $500 million renovation that included a retractable roof. They played the first sports event in the building June 20, 1983, during their North American Soccer League days. A record Northwest soccer crowd of 60,342 turned out for a 2-1 Whitecaps victory.