Knighton’s work in Vancouver goal suffocates Sounders

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comJuly 7, 2013 

VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Vancouver Whitecaps scored early and late Saturday and were rewarded with their first Major League Soccer victory over Seattle Sounders FC, 2-0, at BC Place.

Kenny Miller opened the scoring in the fourth minute, and Darren Mattocks closed it in the 79th. The Sounders had by far the better chances in between, but they couldn’t coax anything past Vancouver goalkeeper Brad Knighton.

“Soccer’s a funny game,” Seattle coach Sigi Schmid said. “I didn’t think we played real well on Wednesday (against D.C. United, and) we won the game, 2-0. Tonight, I thought we played really well. Especially through the first 60 minutes; I thought we were the dominant team.”

It was the Whitecaps’ first MLS win in a Cascadia Cup match after seven losses and five draws. And that instantly moved the Whitecaps into the 2013 Cascadia Cup lead with Seattle, both at 1-1-1, with the Portland Timbers behind at 0-1-1.

The result also extended Vancouver’s unbeaten streak at home to 6-0-3.

The Whitecaps’ opening-goal sequence began with a long lofted pass from Corey Hertzog to Miller, who took one touch in the box, then used a second touch to cut right past Sounders defender Jhon Kennedy Hurtado before knocking the ball in off the far post.

Seattle (7-6-3) responded by attacking Vancouver (8-5-5) aggressively. But for all the Sounders’ domination, nothing got past Knighton.

Over a three-minute stretch starting in the 22nd minute, he went to the turf for saves against Eddie Johnson, Zach Scott, Johnson again, and then Obafemi Martins. By halftime, Knighton had matched his season high with five saves. By the end, Seattle had taken a total of 16 shots, and put seven on target – but Knighton saved every one.

“Our finishing needed to be a little bit sharper, then we don’t make the goalkeeper look as good,” Schmid said. “He came up with some big saves. He reacted well to the one off the corner from Zach, he got his toe on the other one, so he gets to that. So, credit to him.”

Finally, it was Vancouver that finally broke through again, this time with Mattocks chipping a shot around Djimi Traore and past goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.

“We gave up a goal early, credit to them for finishing that,” Schmid said. “We had opportunities. We should have finished some of those opportunities. Knighton came up with some big saves for them in goal to keep them in it. And then obviously the last 10 minutes of the game we’re pushing forward, and that’s probably when they got the majority of their shots from that point on.

“But I’m not displeased with what we created and how we played.”

The game was the league-record 400th game coached by Seattle’s Sigi Schmid (179-124-97).

The Sounders return to action Saturday at San Jose.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 @donruiztnt

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