Well it didn’t come without controversy, but the Vancouver Whitecaps got their first win of the season on March 19th over their Cascadia rivals in Seattle. Captain Pedro Morales slotted home a pair of penalty kicks in a 2–1 victory at Centurylink field.
Due to their close proximity, the Seattle Sounders have been rivals since the old days of the NASL. That fierce competition between the two cities has only intensified since both teams joined MLS. One advantage of only being a two-and-a-half hour drive away is that opposing fans can make the trip to cheer on their team. On Saturday, nearly 1,000 Whitecaps supporters, many of them Southsiders (members of a Vancouver Whitecaps supporters group) made the trip down the I-5 to cheer on the boys in white. I was such a fan, joining in on the Southsider bus trip.
The day started with pickup downtown and then the drive to the border. Everyone was in high spirits and there was an energy on the bus. As soon as we crossed the border, however, we kicked it into high gear and the party really started. The kegs were tapped and a quick stop at the supermarket meant that everyone was well equipped to drink our way down to Seattle. The bus was filled with songs and laughter as we hoped to see our team come home victorious.
We didn’t have to wait long for the game to get going. In the eighth minute, newcomer Blas Perez played a ball down the wing and Christian Bolanos (another addition this season) charged it down only to be taken down in the box and a penalty awarded. It is very unclear if much contact was made with Bolanos or if he was lightly clipped, but regardless, Captain Pedro Morales stepped up and coolly put the ball into the left corner. 1–0 Whitecaps.
The bus was filled with songs and laughter as we hoped to see our team come home victorious.
The game would pick up from there and begin to get more physical — however, the Whitecaps would take the lead into half. Shortly after play resumed Seattle would equalize after a glorious free kick in the 52nd minute. Andreas Ivanschitz curled a beauty from 25 yards out to get Seattle back in the game. It would be for nothing, however, as referee Mark Geiger awarded Vancouver their second penalty of the game in the 72nd minute. Perez struck again, running down a beautifully played ball from Morales that he slide tackled in the box.
Both teams traded chances in the final 10 minutes of the game, but it was Vancouver who left with the three points. A lot of attention was directed towards the poor officiating from Geiger who has a history of bad calls. All I can say is that I’m very happy that we were on the winning side of it this time, as the Whitecaps have been victims to his poor judgement before.
As everyone happily piled back onto the bus home we reveled in the victory and the start of perhaps better things to come for the rest of the season. Winning is sweet, but winning against your rivals on their home turf is even better. Coming back across the border, all we had to declare were the three points we brought home.