There’s just something about Gambians playing for Whitecaps FC in Seattle. In the past two years it’s been Kekuta Manneh scoring to send Vancouver to victory, but this time it was centre back Pa-Modou Kah guiding the ‘Caps to a dominant 3-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC in front of 53,125 fans at CenturyLink Field.
Fans need not wait long for the two teams to meet again, as Whitecaps FC host Sounders FC in their first ever CONCACAF Champions League match on Wednesday at BC Place. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. and tickets remain available.
Head coach Carl Robinson made two changes from last weekend’s starting lineup at home to San Jose, as Jordan Harvey returned from suspension to step back in for Christian Dean, while Cristian Techera also returned from suspension to replace the injured Mauro Rosales. The ‘Caps lineup was also the first time in 25 matches this season that Robinson used the same 11 as a previous match, with tonight’s starters also appearing on the scoresheet in the June 20 2-1 road win at New York Red Bulls.
The match got off to a raucous start in the sixth minute as Kah scored his first goal for the ‘Caps in MLS. Nicolas Mezquida whipped in a free kick from the right flank to an open Kendall Waston. The big man grazed a header towards goal that deflected back to Kah, who calmly fired a half-volley into the back of the net for an early 1-0 lead.
On 16 minutes, the ‘Caps Uruguayan combination nearly struck. Cristian Techera found Mezquida, who in turn found Octavio Rivero in the box before the striker tried a tough angle shot that rolled wide. Mezquida and Rivero nearly connected again on 35 minutes, but the ‘Caps leading scorer was just unable to get a foot on a centred pass in the box.
Rivero continued his excellent half four minutes later, this time holding up the ball well and sending a through ball to Jordan Harvey on the right side of the box. The left back showed no hesitation in unleashing a wicked shot that hit the near post and stayed out.
Seattle finally showed signs of life on 42 minutes. A cross from Thomás on the left landed kindly at the feet of centre back Chad Marshall, but goalkeeper David Ousted continued to show his MLS All-Star form with a terrific save to keep the score at 1-0 for the visitors.
With the halftime whistle, the ‘Caps wrapped up an impressive first 45 minutes in which their lead could have easily been greater than one goal.
It was another quick start for Robinson’s side in the second half, and again it was Kah. Techera took the corner kick and played a give and go with Manneh before driving a low shot into the box. From there, Kah, deflected a deft back heel into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
The play of Vancouver’s Uruguayan players continued to shine through the second half. After Rivero was taken down outside the box on 60 minutes, Mezquida struck a curling free kick off the near post. While Frei was a bit fortunate on Mezquida’s attempt, he was in good position three minutes later to save a powerful shot from Matias Laba.
Later in the match, Pedro Morales subbed on for Mezquida, and he clearly watched his counterpart’s earlier free kick attempt. With his own free kick on 75 minutes, the captain curled a stunning near post effort past Frei for a commanding 3-0 advantage.
Seattle put forth a few half chances, but no trouble to the ‘Caps as the final whistle confirmed another huge win in Seattle. The win in net for Ousted was his 12th of the season, tying his own Whitecaps FC single season record which he set last year.
With the result, Whitecaps FC move top of the Western Conference and also move into the lead in the Cascadia Cup standings, guaranteeing that the trophy will be awarded on September 19 when Vancouver host Seattle at BC Place.
Budweiser Man of the Match: Pa-Modou Kah
Referee: Mark Geiger