Analysis

That other Cascadia rivalry: The best moments from decades of Whitecaps-Sounders

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland-Seattle rivalry gets the attention, but Vancouver-Seattle dates back to 1974.

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Whitecaps 0, Sounders 0 (Whitecaps win via shootout) – April 12, 1980

“Wee” Willie Johnston was a flamboyant Scottish winger who earned legend status with Rangers FC and West Bromwich Albion before trying his hand at life in the NASL with the Whitecaps, helping them win the 1979 Soccer Bowl via an upset of the mighty New York Cosmos. But that wasn’t the only memory he left in British Columbia.

He once took a swig from a beer offered by a fan in San Jose just before delivering a corner kick that led to a Caps goal, a moment that later led Vancouver to dub one corner of the BC Place pitch “Willie’s Corner” as a tribute. It got even more outlandish when the Sounders visited the Whitecaps in the wake of that ‘79 championship triumph.

Seattle midfielder Bruce Rioch had been a teammate of Johnston’s on Scotland’s 1978 World Cup team. But the two fell out when Rioch – the captain – allegedly pocketed some of the proceeds from a pool of endorsement money that the team had agreed to split evenly among themselves.

When the Caps and Sounders went to the old NASL-style shootout to decide the game, Johnston drilled his kick, then mooned Rioch and his Sounders teammates in an effort to both disrespect him and break his concentration before it was his turn to shoot. And it worked. (Alas, FourFourTwo has thus far been unable to track down video of this incident.)

Whitecaps 2, Sounders 1 – June 20, 1983

The BC Place of today looks very different from its original incarnation, when it was the largest air-supported domed stadium in the world. Fittingly, a Sounders-Whitecaps game was the first event at the venue when it debuted in 1983, a sellout crowd of 60,342 watching appreciatively as English legend Peter Beardsley bagged a double to lead the home team to victory.

Seattle Sounders FC 2, Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – June 11, 2011

Vancouver had a nightmarish start to life in MLS, finishing in dead-last place in 2011. The exploits of Eric Hassli made things a lot more interesting, however. The mercurial French striker was nearly as prone to getting red-carded as he was scoring incredible goals, and occasionally did both in the same game.

Hassli had already netted a cheeky penalty kick in this stormy Cascadia encounter at CenturyLink (then Qwest) Field, but Osvaldo Alonso’s late strike seemed to have earned Seattle a 2-1 win nonetheless.

But then Hassli pounced on a mistouch by Alonso and conjured up what is regarded as one of the greatest goals in MLS history, a blistering improvisational volley over Kasey Kelley that snatched a hard-earned point for the visitors.

Seattle Sounders FC 1, Vancouver Whitecaps FC 4 – Oct 10, 2013

This one marked Kekuta Manneh’s introduction to a national audience. The Gambian-born winger was just a rookie at the time but he single handedly tore the Sounders apart on their own turf, racking up a hat trick in a surprise win for the Caps.

Vancouver Whitecaps 1, Seattle Sounders 2 – Oct 2, 2016

It’s not often that you see a game where two goalscorers are also ejected via straight red cards, as was the case for Brad Evans and Pedro Morales here. And that was only one of the many weird happenings in this one.

The Caps’ Blas Perez was up to his usual cunning tricks – though he didn’t look so smart when he pointed the wrong way on Evans’ game-winning PK. Alphonso Davies announced his arrival as the most talented youngster in MLS with an impressive display along the Vancouver flanks under the watchful eye of several European scouts.

When the dust had cleared, the Sounders had continued the late-season revival that eventually took them to MLS Cup glory, climbing past the Whitecaps towards a playoff spot as Vancouver wilted out of the postseason picture by season’s end.  

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