That’s the only suitable word I can come up with to describe Wednesday night’s match, which saw history unfold in front of a spirited ECS-filled CenturyLink Field. Not only did the Vancouver Whitecaps (12W-11L-9D) win their second straight match against the Seattle Sounders (15W-10L-6D), incidentally their first Cascadia road win, by the end it was the fans from Vancouver doing the cheering in the Emerald City, as two of the boys in blue and white had their own personal firsts, the biggest news of which being rookie Kekuta Manneh’s hat-trick, the first in club history.
Manneh’s potential has been discussed in the past, both here on Whitecaps XI and many other places. Some argue that the young Gambian is deserving of more playing time, including more chances to start games, while others have urged patience and time to allow Manneh to mature and grow his experience before getting the chance. Let us leave that debate for another time. Whatever your opinion, (and personally I’m a fan of seeing more Manneh now rather than later), both sides can agree that the Whitecaps have found themselves a real gem in the eighteen-year old forward and one hopes that the team will take good steps to keep him in a Whitecaps jersey for years to come.
Congratulations also to Premier League veteran Nigel Reo-Coker, who scored his first Major League Soccer goal, adding insurance to Manneh’s hat-trick, making up for many missed chances over the season and ensuring Vancouver walks out of Seattle with all three points.
Another player in need of acknowledgement: Daigo Kobayashi. The Japanese striker has been a source of criticism for inconsistent technical play. Still, Kobayashi proved his own talent, setting up two of Manneh’s goals in what sources are calling Kobayashi’s best showing on the pitch this season, and you’ll get no argument from me. The key now is for him to continue the urgent, technical play through these final two games, urgency being something the entire team would do well to keep at the forefront of their minds.
Let’s get serious for a moment here.
The team has over a week to train and rest up in time for their final road game of the season against Colorado October 19th in a literal do or die match. The Whitecaps may have won in Seattle, but they were still out-possessed and did not muster the most shots or attempts on net and the three points earned has not completely eliminated the gap between here and fifth place. The key will be to continue the same style of play they showed against Seattle and Montreal.
As of this writing, the Rapids are currently holding onto fifth place in the Western Conference in spite of the San Jose Earthquakes narrowing the gap to only two points (forty-seven, versus the Whitecaps’ forty-five,) though the Rapids are also tied with fourth place LA Galaxy (forty-eight).
Although Colorado will join the Whitecaps at B.C. Place again on October 27th to close out the regular season, if they come away with the win, they could potentially join Seattle in second place, officially snuffing out the playoff flame for Vancouver. Even a draw will not be enough to push the Whitecaps into the post-season. There is no point beating around the bush: The only acceptable outcome is another Whitecaps win.
Game-day is T minus ten days and counting. Here’s hoping for the best!
Current Cascadia Cup Standings:
Vancouver Whitecaps FC: 9
Seattle Sounders FC: 7
Portland Timbers: 4
Seattle and Portland close out the Cascadia season on Sunday. A Portland win or draw will see the Whitecaps bring the beloved Cup home to Vancouver for the first time since joining Major League Soccer in 2011.