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Vancouver Whitecaps vs Seattle Sounders: What we learned from their 4-0 loss

The Whitecaps haven’t beaten the Sounders since 2017, and Tuesday night’s game in Seattle showed why.

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Some days you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.

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The Cascadia Cup is supposed to be a heated rivalry, but the Vancouver Whitecaps’ recent history in the regional competition has been as effective as a hunter trying to take down an Ursus horribilis with a .22 rifle. Tuesday night, in their most recent meeting of the Cascadia Cup, the Vancouver Whitecaps wound up mauled by a Seattle Sounders squad that tore them apart from start to finish in a 4-0 domination at Lumen Field.

The Sounders extended their unbeaten streak over Vancouver to 15 games. The last Caps win came in April of 2017.

“The frustrating thing is it looked like they wanted it more than us. That can’t be allowed to happen,” said midfielder Ryan Gauld. “We didn’t really have any response for really breaking them down or stopping them playing. So there’s not an awful lot I can say. We’re just we’re all frustrated, and we’re all pissed off.

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“And when you come to a place like this, to lose a penalty in the first couple of minutes and chase the game, we’re just making things tough on ourselves. It’s just one of those nights that you want to forget. We were second best all over the pitch, and against good players like Seattle have got, they’re gonna punish us. It’s the kind of performance we can’t repeat.”

The game, rescheduled from earlier this year when the Sounders were on their way to becoming the first MLS winners of the Concacaf Champions League, started with Vancouver going down 1-0 on a penalty kick five minutes in. From there, the rout was on.

The Whitecaps (5-8-2) have been outscored 8-1 in their last two visits to Lumen field, and have lost both Cascadia Cup games this year. Portland won 3-2 at B.C. Place in April, and visit Seattle on July 9.

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Scoring for Seattle (6-6-1), who jumped over the Whitecaps and three other teams into seventh place in the Western Conference — and the final playoff berth — were Raul Ruidiaz, with two, Nico Lodiero and Alex Roldan.

“It was 100% not our game (tonight),” said head coach Vanni Sartini, whose team had its two-game win streak snapped.

“Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong and it’s our fault mainly. … For me, it’s our fault because the way that we started the game (was) not intense enough, not locked in enough to do what you’re supposed to do.

“I think it’s a good reminder that if you’re not performing at the top of our skills,  we’re gonna lose against every team.”

Here’s what we learned …

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NOT THEIR NIGHT

When goalkeeper Cody Cropper took down Fredy Montero in the box before the fans at Lumen Field had settled into their seats, you got the sense it was going to be a long night for Vancouver.

It was the league-leading fifth penalty kick given up by the Caps, and Lodeiro sent Cropper the wrong way for a 1-0 lead.

Some defensive miscues in midfield led to Ruidiaz’s two goals, and on the other end, the Caps didn’t manage a shot on goal. Their 45 shots on target is the lowest in MLS.

Seattle outshot Vancouver 16-10 (8-0), and only won the possession battle 56/44, but it was in the one-on-one duels where the Caps struggled; the Sounders had a 46-30 advantage in that category.

“We need to look at ourselves — not only the players but also the coaching staff in the way that we prepare, the choices that we made — because it can’t happen again,” said Sartini. “We need to do points away. We just won in Kansas City and then we lost every game away, while at home we have a very good record.

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“So if we want to make those the effort that we are doing at home worth it, we need to start and get points away. And in order to get points away, we need to be more intense. Wee need to be on top of our game. And today, we didn’t.”

NOT THEIR NIGHT

When goalkeeper Cody Cropper took down Fredy Montero in the box before the fans at Lumen Field had settled into their seats, you got the sense it was going to be a long night for Vancouver.

It was the league-leading fifth penalty kick given up by the Caps, and Lodeiro sent Cropper the wrong way for a 1-0 lead.

Some defensive miscues in midfield led to Ruidiaz’s two goals, and on the other end, the Caps didn’t manage a shot on goal. Their 45 shots on target is the lowest in MLS.

Seattle outshot Vancouver 14-0 (7-0), and only won the possession battle 57/43, but it was in the one-on-one duels where the Caps struggled; the Sounders had a 46-30 advantage in that category.

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NEXT GAME

Vancouver Whitecaps at FC Dallas

When: Saturday, June 18

Time: 6 p.m. PT

Venue: Toyota Stadium TV: TSN Radio: AM730


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THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE

The search for a No. 6 has been an continuing one for the Whitecaps. It looked like they’d had a suitable candidate in Florian Jungwirth, who moved up from the back line into midfield three times this year, but he’s lacked the consistency they need in that position.

Enter Andrés Cubas.

The Whitecaps filled their final designated player spot with the defensive midfielder from French club Nimes in April, but because of a slow visa process, it took until Monday before he arrived in Vancouver.

He was on the bench Tuesday after playing two international games for Paraguay last week, but came on for Jungwirth in the 60th minute with the game out of reach at 3-0. He got a yellow card for a tackle on former Cap Fredy Montero, but it was due to a slip in the turf farther than any over-aggressiveness.

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Sartini is excited to see what his new No. 6 can offer, but added he integrated into the club’s social fabric almost immediately.

“It’s important that he makes the trip with us … and understanding what MLS is. So it’s gonna be important trip for him for sure,” Sartini said this week. “We know that he’s a very good player, and is good technically, and he’s very good at winning the ball back. So those are all qualities that will be important to improve our team and to grow our midfield.”

Cubas has appreciated having so many Spanish-speaking teammates to make the move easier, and the welcome everyone at the club have extended.

“I chose Vancouver because they offered me a great proposal while I was in France. And honestly the interest in the club for me and the coach was something that I really appreciated. I never doubted the decision that I took. I’m super happy to be here,” said Cubas. “I’m a player that has a lot of abilities in defence. I love helping out the team. Defensively, probably the main characteristic that defines me as a player would be my ability to bring intensity to the game defensively, recovering balls, making tackles.”

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Jun 14, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Vancouver Whitecaps defender Marcus Godinho (2) evades a slide tackle attempt by Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Kelyn Rowe (22) during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Vancouver Whitecaps defender Marcus Godinho (2) evades a slide tackle attempt by Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Kelyn Rowe (22) during the first half at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports Photo by Joe Nicholson /USA TODAY Sports

BILLION DOLLAR BABY

So long, TSN. Hello, Ted Lasso.

MLS made waves on Tuesday with the announcement of a 10-year new broadcast deal with Apple TV that will see all of their games migrate to the streaming platform, starting in 2023.

MLS is set to collect $250 million per year under the new agreement. They currently accrue $90 million in a 2015 agreement with ESPN, Fox, and Univision.

In Canada, that means only a select few games will be simulcast on “linear networks” — that’s cable TV, for us old folk — unlike now, with every Whitecaps and Toronto FC game broadcast on TSN.

MLS commissioner Don Garber said that the move made sense, with 80 per cent of the league’s fan base streaming a game at least once a week already.

“We are convinced that this is where our fans are going, this is where the business is going, and we have an opportunity to go there perhaps before anybody else does,” he said. “We believe our league is perfectly positioned for the next evolution of how people watch live sports. … This is the way they are, this is what they do, this is what they’ve asked for. We’re going to deliver them every match anywhere, anytime, anywhere around the world without any restrictions or any blackouts.

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“We are convinced that this is where our fans are going and this is where the business is going. We have an opportunity to go there perhaps before anybody else does and to do it with a company that we believe is going to be the driver and ultimate winner in this global sports streaming space.”

This does expose MLS to a global market, as it allows for anyone worldwide to tune in online to watch any of the 900 MLS games, Leagues Cup matches, MLX NEXT Pro matches on the app. But anyone lacking a smart TV with Apple or Roku, will have to watch on a desktop, tablet or phone.

The subscription will be free to season ticket holders, however.

The other caveat is that all play by play will be done centrally, with no local talent on site, although there is the option have local radio as the audio on broadcasts.

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“Our clubs are in the content business,” said MLS Deputy Commissioner and President Gary Stevenson. “They think about the fan experience. They think about the consumer experience first. If there’s a press conference in Philadelphia and Jim Curtin talks about the upcoming game or he talks about the impact his players are having internationally, if we can harvest that content, pull it into our production facility and then repurpose it and send it to Apple, it will have a place that it can be distributed.

“That part of it is very, very, very important to us on the fan creation and development side. Imagine if we sign a star player from Colombia. Immediately, we have the ability to serve content to those fans in Colombia of that particular player through the Apple global distribution system … To me, when you think about the intangibles here and why this really makes the most sense? It makes the most sense because we have that ability to distribute content.”

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VOTE FOR PEDRO

When the 18-man roster was released for Tuesday’s game, there was a name conspicuous by its consistent absence: midfielder Pedro Vite.

His last start for Vancouver in league play came back on April 23 against Atlanta. Since then, he’s played 15 MLS minutes compared to two MLS Next Pro starts for 150 minutes, including on Sunday.

It was hoped the U22 Initiative player would be a playmaker in the vein of Ryan Gauld, but the transition from Ecuadorean first division side Independiente Del Vall has been slow to develop for the 20-year-old.

Coach Vanni Sartini said he wanted to see more aggressiveness out of the midfielder, his potential still untapped. The Ecuadorean league is far more open and flowing compared to the physical MLS game, where players have much less time or space.

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“Pedro needs to become a little more intense on the field,” he said last month, before Vite made an eight-minute substitute appearance against Dallas.

“His level of talent develop his level of quality is not enough. He still doesn’t exude that level of intensity, that level of bite, both offensively and defensively that makes him play without a problem in MLS,” he said. “Until he reaches that level, he’s a 20, 25 minutes player, he’s a bench player for us. And that’s a message not only for you guys (the media) but also for him, because he needs to realize that he needs to ramp up the intensity of his game, because with the quality that he is, if he really becomes a little bit more intense in his game, he can become one of the best offensive midfielder of the league.”

jadams@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/TheRealJJAdams

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