Considering the big home crowd and the stakes, the Sounders delivered a remarkably lackluster effort Friday night at the Clink, not only losing the match 1-0 to the Whitecaps but the Cascadia Cup to a Vancouver side that had not won on the road since June 1.
The Whitecaps (11-8-3) played with an urgency befitting a team two points out of the final MLS playoff spot in the West, while the Sounders (19-10-3), who have clinched either first or second place, never found the attack that provided four goals in each of the past two games.
The game’s only goal came in the 45th minute when Kekuta Menneh, who scored a hat trick against Seattle one year ago, found himself remarkably alone in the offensive half after a pass from midfield came down the left flank. Chad Marshall closed, but Menneh, who hadn’t scored in 18 games, juked him and still had a good angle from 10 yards to push the ball past a lunging GK Stefan Frei, who deflected but couldn’t catch.
On the score, Menneh hurt himself, suffering what was described as a quad contusion, and didn’t play in the second half.
The three points gave Vancouver 46 to vault over Portland (45) for the fifth and last postseason spot. The Caps also became the first team to defend the Cascadia Cup in the three-team Northwest derby. They also won the season series 2-0-1 and became a team the Sounders don’t want to face in the first round of the playoffs.
Meanwhile the Sounders, who had hoped to add the Cup to the U.S. Open Cup won earlier as they moved toward an MLS Cup, were disjointed, mounted few serious attacks until the final desperate minutes and couldn’t even muster a draw that would have given them the Cup.
They remained tied at 60 points with the Los Angeles Galaxy, who play their game in hand at Dallas Sunday. And the 55,675 witnessed something unique — for the first time in 15 games when the home crowd was more than 40,000, the Sounders lost.
Sounders, who lost the chance to match the franchise record 63 points set in 2011, close the regular season with two against the Galaxy: 5:30 p.m. Oct. 19 in Los Angeles (ESPN2) and at the Clink at noon Oct. 25 (NBC) . . . Right back DeAndre Yedlin and forward Sean Okoli were unavailable due to international duty, as were Vancouver’s Carlyle Mitchell, Darren Mattocks and Christian Dean. The Caps were also without forward Sebastian Fernandez, suspended for yellow card accumulation . . . Guaranteed either first or second place in the West, the Sounders play their first home match of the 2014 MLS Cup playoffs Nov. 10. Season ticket members can reserve their seats for all potential home matches now. Single-match tickets will go on sale Oct. 21 . . . Before the match, the Sounders continued their 40th anniversary celebration with an alumni game and pregame introductions of more than 90 players who have been a part of the club since its 1974 inception in the North American Soccer League.