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Drilling down on: at Vancouver 0, Seattle 0

Seattle Sounders v Vancouver Whitecaps

VANCOUVER, CANADA - SEPTEMBER 29: Matt Watson #16 of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC watches Jordan Harvey #3 of the Whitecaps and Christian Tiffert #13 of the Seattle Sounders FC play he ball during their MLS game September 29, 2012 at BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

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Man of the Match: It’s very tempting to split this award for the first time, apropos considering the final score. For each team, there was one man who did the heavy lifting in defense, but whereas Osvaldo Alonso saw Jeff Parke help with two invaluable first half plays, Jay DeMerit was shouldering the load for the Whitecaps. In the air, he dominated the one-on-one matchup against Sounders’ target man Eddie Johnson. At match’s end, DeMerit was the most active player in Seattle’s end, both as a target for corners are helping sustain pressure on the Sounders.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Two facets beyond the players control had a huge influence on this match:

    • Silviu Petrescu took his usual let them play approach. If you’re a team that has Osvaldo Alonso in midfield, that’s good news.
    • Vancouver suffered two first half injuries (John Thorrington, Darren Mattocks), tying Martin Rennie’s hands. The Whitecaps boss was inhibited from making second half adjustments, eventually leaving his third substitute unused.
  • Put those two facets together, and this game was there for Seattle’s taking, yet despite decent shifts from both forwards (Fredy Montero, Eddie Johnson), Seattle only generated one moment of danger: a 79th minute corner Jeff Parke put on goal, with Young-Pyo Lee having to clear off Vancouver’s line.
  • What was the problem? The level between Alonso and the forwards. Mauro Rosales didn’t look one hundred percent, having one of his least effective matches since moving to Major League Soccer.
  • And then there’s Christian Tiffert, who also failed to make an impact. The Sounder designated player was a step behind play all night, seemingly continuing his adjustment to Major League Soccer. Tiffert looked sluggish, slow, perhaps a little worn down. Saturday’s was one of those performances that left you periodically asking whether the player was still on the field.
  • Tiffert hasn’t been bad since arriving this summer, but he also hasn’t been the player Sounder fans had hoped they were getting. Perhaps next year he’ll hit the ground running.
  • Vancouver’s best chance of the match was also their last chance, on that should have given the Whitecaps three points. A cross from the left from Barry Robson grazed off Kenny Miller head and rolled onto Camilo Sanvezzo, alone to the right of goal. With Michael Gspurning desperately trying to get across goal. Camilo pulled the potential game-winner wide left, cursing the match to end scoreless.
  • If we’re going to point out disappointing designated players, neither Robson nor Miller did anything to quite concerns about Vancouver’s signings. Aside from his stoppage time cross (and a nice chipped pass early in the second half), Robson failed to influence the match, while Miller’s decision making and execution in the final third was lacking.
  • Camilo’s miss could prove big in the Western Conference playoff race. With the Whitecaps and FC Dallas clubs through 31 games, Vancouver is only two points ahead in their race for the West’s last playoff spot (Dallas were drawn with San Jose, 1-1, at the time of this writing). The schedule is on the Whitecaps’ side, though. They close the year at home to Chivas USA and Portland before going to Salt Lake.
  • For Seattle, it’s another missed opportunity. Coaches say it’s never easy to win on the road in MLS, but trips to Portland and Vancouver are chances for full points, not mere survival. Those are rivalry matches, so there’s an added element of tension, but Seattle should have expected more than two draws.
  • A win in one of those matches would have Seattle one point behind second place RSL (with a match in hand).
  • The draw also takes Seattle’s Cascadia Cup destiny out of their hands. The Sounders could beat Portland next week and still relinquish the Cup should the Timbers win in Vancouver on Oct. 21.