Trailing 2-1, unable to create scoring opportunities and running out of time, the Sounders received a major break in the 82nd minute when an extremely questionable foul on Vancouver’s JayDeMerit resulted in a Gonzalo Pineda penalty kick that enabled Seattle to escape with a 2-2 Cascadia Cup draw with the Whitecaps Saturday at BC Place.
The Sounders are 8-3-2 this season and 3-2-4 all-time in Cascadia Cup matches with the Whitecaps, but their solo hold on the top spot in the Western Conference depended on Real Salt Lake’s match with Dallas later Saturday. Seattle also settled for a draw (4-4) in its previous Cup match with Portland April 5.
The Sounders seemed headed for a 2-1 defeat when DeMerit won a header cleanly over Cam Weaver, just inserted into the match. A foul call could have gone either way, but it went to DeMerit, who protested vigorously. Pineda then chipped in for an easy penalty goal, his first tally in a Seattle uniform.
Although the Whitecaps maintained possession for most of the rest of the game, keeping constant pressure on the Sounders, Obafemi Martins nearly won it for Seattle in the 84th minute when his crossing shot clanked off the near post.
After a sluggish first eight minutes in which Vancouver controlled the run of play, taking the first eight shots of the match, the Sounders began to find their form. Chad Barrett tallied his second goal of the season in the 36th minute, heading in a 12-yard chip from Kenny Cooper past goalkeeper David Ousted to give Seattle the early lead.
But Erik Hurtado retaliated three minutes later when he beat two Sounders defenders in the box and smashed a shot past Stefan Frei to level the match.
Vancouver’s Sebastian Fernandez nearly made it 2-1 in first-half added time, but his shot from the top of the box sailed just over Frei’s head. The Whitecaps took 14 shots before intermission to four for Seattle.
Vancouver (4-2-5, 17 points) took a 2-1 lead in the 66th minute when midfielder Gershon Koffie scored his first goal of the season on an error by Frei. In an effort to keep the ball in play, Frei strayed away from his line and booted a clearing attempt up the middle instead of safely up the sideline. Koffie pounced on the ball and scored into the vacated goal.
The Whitecaps attempted 24 shots to Seattle’s eight, and Frei needed to make two stoppage-time saves to preserve the draw.
The Sounders and Whitecaps meet two more times this season, July 5 at BC Place and Oct. 10 at CenturyLink Field.
NOTES: Lamar Neagle did not play Saturday due to a hamstring injury . . . When Jimmy Traore limped off in the 56th minute after getting roughed up on a couple of plays, Brad Evans replaced him. Evans was one of seven players who missed making the U.S. World Cup team earlier this week . . . The Sounders have scored an MLS-leading 24 goals . . . Kenny Cooper celebrated his 200th MLS appearance Saturday with his 18th career assist and second for Seattle.
NEXT: The Sounders host Real Salt Lake at 1 p.m. Saturday at CenturyLink Field and then take a week off before traveling to Chicago to meet the Fire June 7. The Sounders will break for three weeks during World Cup play before resuming action June 28 at D.C. United.