VANCOUVER, B.C. — The tone of Saturday’s rivalry game between Sounders FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps was set in the third minute, and the impression was left on Fredy Montero’s face.
The Seattle forward took a swinging forearm to the face from defender Jay DeMerit — a play that went unpunished — and blows between the teams would continue for another 87 minutes.
Just another typical Cascadia Cup game.
The slugfest ended in a scoreless tie, a result that clinched the Sounders (13-7-10) a fourth-straight playoff berth and extended an MLS-record run of going 62 games without back-to-back losses.
Seattle remains behind Portland in the Cascadia Cup standings (eight points to six) and put its defense of the title in jeopardy. Vancouver (10-12-9) has gone seven games without a win and was eliminated from winning the Cascadia Cup.
Vancouver nearly stole the win in the final seconds, but an open shot by midfielder Camilo went inches wide.
The best chance for the Sounders to claim the win came in the 89th minute, when midfielder Steve Zakuani fired a shot from the top of the penalty area that was deflected and forced a quick-reaction save by goalkeeper Brad Knighton.
The Whitecaps had a similar chance just two minutes earlier when forward Kenny Miller’s shot in the 87th minute deflected just wide of the Seattle goal.
The Sounders had another great scoring chance in the 79th minute, when defender Jeff Parke’s shot off a corner kick was cleared off the goal line by Whitecaps defender Lee Young-Pyo.
Seattle forward Eddie Johnson got on the end of a Zakuani cross in the 83rd minute, but his header went wide.
Johnson had also earned a great scoring chance in the 49th minute, but he missed high with an open volley from the right side of the goal.
That miss came just a minute after Whitecaps midfielder Alain Rochat fired a knuckling shot from distance that required an awkward one-handed save by Gspurning. Vancouver’s Camilo had a follow-up chance but couldn’t connect cleanly.
The teams split opportunities in the first half as Seattle had a 6-4 shot advantage at the break.
Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso skipped a low shot just wide of the Whitecaps net in the 12th minute. Then, three minutes later, midfielder Brad Evans couldn’t quite connect on a cross in front of the goal from Mauro Rosales.
Vancouver looked to have a breakaway chance for speedy forward Darren Mattocks in the 30th minute, before he tackled off the ball cleanly by Parke. The Whitecaps were also denied a penalty kick by referee Silviu Petrescu in the 38th minute, when Mattocks got in behind Parke and fell to ground after the two got tangled up.
For just the second time this season, the Sounders fielded a starting lineup it had previously used. The visitors had its full complement of stars back following the return of Rosales from injury and Johnson from suspension.
Seattle had started the same lineup in a 6-2 road win against Chivas USA in August, a performance that matched franchise records for goals scored and margin of victory.