Whitecaps in playoff hunt after topping Sounders for Cascadia Cup
SEATTLE (AP) — Dealing with a painful bruised quad, Kekuta Manneh had one last run down the field left in him and made the most of it.
Manneh scored in the final minute of the first half and the Vancouver Whitecaps beat the Seattle Sounders 1-0 on Friday night to move back into position for a playoff spot.
In front of 55,765 fans, the Whitecaps (11-8-13) won their third straight game and jumped a point ahead of Portland for the fifth and final Western Conference berth. Both teams have two games remaining.
The Sounders (19-10-3) remained tied with Los Angeles atop the overall MLS standings. The Galaxy visit FC Dallas on Sunday, then will face Seattle in a home-and-home series.
Manneh's goal, his fourth of the season, came off a counterattack. Just moments before, he had walked off the field in pain, but was allowed back on almost immediately, and was completely unmarked.
Midfielder Pedro Morales sent a long through ball to a streaking Manneh up the left wing side. Sounders defender Chad Marshall caught up, but Manneh took the ball into the left side of the penalty area, deked around Marshall, and sent a 14-yard shot into the back right corner for his fourth of the year.
"I was still in pain, but I still had to go and take a chance, and it turned out to be a goal," Manneh said. "When I came on, they played Pedro, and I was all by myself. I started running because I know his quality. He played a ball through, and it was a great pass."
Manneh nearly scored late in the 30th minute, only to be denied on a sprawling save by Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei at the left post. Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson decided to sub Manneh out at halftime, even though he wasn't sure one goal would be enough against a Sounders team that scored four in each of its last two games.
"I changed my mind four times on it," Robinson said. "I said jokingly that we might have to score five because Seattle has been on fire throughout the season, especially the recent few weeks.
"It took one goal, and we're delighted we got it. But we've still got a lot of work to do."
Vancouver goalkeeper David Ousted had his league-leading 11th shutout.
The victory was the first on the road for the Whitecaps since June 1 and halted a nine-game winless streak (0-4-5) away from home. It also helped Vancouver claim a second straight Cascadia Cup, a season-long derby between the Whitecaps, Sounders, and Timbers.
Seattle had two chances that barely missed late in the game. In the 90th minute, with Ousted down in the middle of the box after a collision with Seattle's Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey sent a shot across a wide-open goalmouth that barely missed the far post.
"I don't know if it's necessarily a game we deserved to win, but it wasn't a game we deserved to lose," Sounders coach Sigi Schmid said. "A little breakdown at the end of the first half there when Manneh was off injured and came back onto the field catches us by surprise."