The win-or-else Knockout Spherical is up to now, and the two-legged section of the Audi 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs is upon us. When you managed to overlook that actuality, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Seattle Sounders offered a sobering reminder at BC Place on Sunday evening.
On Thursday Atlanta and Columbus gave us a stirring reminder of how a lot breathless enjoyable a Zero-Zero draw will be. And the Caps and Sounders served up, nicely, a chess match, which will be intriguing for purists however leaves many among the many remainder of us chilly, wanting extra.
However when the winner is determined over 180-plus minutes, not 90, the panorama adjustments – and every crew handles that in another way. It’s at moments like these that we are able to glimpse a coach’s true colours.
What occurred to that cruel Whitecaps bunch that pummeled the San Jose Earthquakes 5-Zero on Wednesday? Coach Carl Robinson seemingly had no intention of encouraging any such track-meet surroundings to unfold this time.
With the decisive Leg 2 set for Seattle’s CenturyLink Area on Wednesday (10:30 pm ET; FS1, FOX Deportes in US | TSN5, TVAS in Canada), each side took care to thoughts the again door, leaving as little area as doable for counterattacks and infrequently lumping the ball lengthy on the slightest signal of issue – although it ought to be stated that Seattle typically seemed extra comfy. This wasn’t only a conservative playoff recreation; it was in statistical phrases probably the most cautious and uneventful recreation of all the 2017 season:
— Ben Baer (@BenBaer89) October 30, 2017
Vancouver and Seattle mixed for Zero.88 anticipated targets.
That is the fewest in any of the 379 MLS video games this yr (reg season & playoffs).
— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) October 30, 2017
“I believe each groups had been afraid of constructing errors. So it bodes nicely for us,” Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei stated after the ultimate whistle. “We’ll take our possibilities at residence.”
It certain didn’t make for a terrific spectacle. However as our personal Matt Doyle repeatedly reminded Andrew Wiebe on MLSsoccer.com’s Playoff Central postgame present, this strategy is a logical response to the away-goals rule on this format. For Vancouver that signifies that on Wednesday, a tie with any targets concerned is now nearly as good as a win (one other Zero-Zero could be determined by penalty-kick shootout). Conversely, the Sounders can rebadure themselves that their mbadive, loud residence crowd will drive them ahead because it so usually has in playoffs previous.
The sight of two longtime rivals being so content material to kick the can to midweek was a little bit bit surreal, contemplating that at this stage final yr, many people had been excessive on the heart-pounding audacity of the Sounders, Montreal Impression and Toronto FC ambushing their higher-seeded opponents within the first leg at residence, setting the tone for the sequence en path to profitable upset bids over FC Dallas, the New York Crimson Bulls and NYCFC, respectively.
No such boldness was in sight from Robinson on Sunday, which did little to boost the pulses of the 27,837 spirited supporters in attendance at BC Place, the most important turnout of the yr for Vancouver.
There’s one thing of the previous Muhammed Ali rope-a-dope in what the Whitecaps boss appears to be plotting, the concept of letting the opponent tire out whereas they’re touchdown meaningless punches with a purpose to set the stage to your personal late flurry. Europe’s main managerial Machiavelli Jose Mourinho not often hesitates to play for a Zero-Zero draw when his groups are in Vancouver’s sneakers, realizing that only one mistake by the second-leg hosts might result in victory (albeit “victory” by attract some instances, because of that away-goals rule).
“I badumed it was an excellent match,” stated Whitecaps heart again Tim Parker, talking like a real defender. “Hopefully we are able to nick one, whether or not it is on a set piece or on a counter, no matter we have to get one [on Wednesday],” sustaining that his crew’s tactical plan performed out “very nicely, very nicely.”
— Matthew Doyle (@MattDoyle76) October 29, 2017
The Whitecaps maintain the worst residence report of any crew in these playoffs, whereas their highway report is the most effective within the West. And it’s been a basic rule of thumb this yr that with their counterattacking methods, the decrease their share of ball possession in a match, the extra possible they’re to win. So in a perverse rebuttal of the standard dominant affect of home-field benefit in MLS play, they discover themselves extra snug looking victory in entrance of another person’s followers.
That makes Robinson’s plan a logical one. However it’s additionally a curious message to ship to your personal gamers, in addition to the supporters who turned out on quick discover to make up that overcapacity crowd at BC Place. Most groups instinctively wish to get after it in entrance of their residence devoted, and on this case, a Sounders aspect bereft of the suspended Clint Dempsey and a number of other different key starters seemed susceptible to an early blitz.
However Robinson most well-liked pbadivity and warning. Wednesday will inform us whether or not or not he acquired it proper.
“That is positively the loudest I’ve heard the gang right here in Vancouver and I’ve acquired to provide them props,” stated Frei, praising the “superb” ambiance of the night alongside False Creek. “These are the atmospheres we wish to play in and it’s incredible for the expansion of the game.”
Now the Whitecaps should win this sequence in entrance of Seattle’s badist.