Clint Dempsey’s brace helped the Seattle Sounders FC defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 in the Second Leg of the Western Conference Semifinals Thursday night at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. The win sends the Sounders back to the Western Conference Finals for a second consecutive year.
The game between the Cascadia Rivals started out as expected. The Whitecaps played conservatively in that they stayed compact in their half of the field and waited to counter. The Sounders pushed players up the field and tried to use the width of the field to advance the ball.
The two teams were scoreless at the halftime break as the Sounders had two shots on goal and Whitecaps none.That’s double the number both teams had in the first game. In Leg one, the Sounders had the lone shot on goal.
The Sounders came out in the second half with a high press. Trying to pin the Whitecaps deep in there half of the field and stopping them from having any type of ball possession.
“We tried to press them from the first minute, so if it didn’t really happen, that’s my bad. Maybe when you get them in at halftime and you make little adjustments or you can poke a guy here and say, ‘Hey, I need you do this,’ because you get an idea of how the game is manifesting itself. So, that was some of it. Sounders head coach Brian Schmetzer said after the game.
“Again, it comes down to the team. We’re talking a lot about Clint, but the rest of the guys behind him – and in front of him because Will Bruin did a good job pressing high – all of those guys deserve all the credit in the world because we needed to come out and press and dictate tempo of the game, knowing that they’re a good counter team. So that was again a little cat-and-mouse we had to play to make sure we were pressing high, trying to make attacking movements, and then watching out for what was coming behind us.”
The Sounders strategy nearly paid off in the 55minute when Jovian Jones picked up a loose ball in the Whitecaps en and passed the ball to Nicolas Lodeiro who took a left footed shot that was blocked by Vancouver defender Aly Ghazal resulting in a Seattle corner. Seattle continued its high pressure and the result was a left-footed Clint Dempsey shot from the center of the box that found the top right corner for the 1-0 lead.
Rather than sit on the one goal lead the Sounders continued pressing the Whitecaps and the result was Dempsey second goal of the game and a return to the Western Conference Finals.
The Sounders will now await the winner of Sunday’s match between the Houston Dynamos and Portland Timbers. The two teams played to a goalless draw in Leg1 in Houston on October 30th.