VANCOUVER — Head coach Marc Dos Santos was happy his team earned its first point of the MLS season, but he was left frustrated by a video replay decision in extra time that forced the Vancouver Whitecaps to settle for a 0-0 draw with the Seattle Sounders Saturday night.
It looked like the Whitecaps would have a chance to win their first game of the 2019 campaign after referee Robert Sibiga signed a yellow card over a tackle in the box by Seattle centre back Kim Kee-hee. That would have set up a penalty kick, but the decision was overturned by a video review.
"I'm always careful to talk about this," Dos Santos said about the play. "If this type of foul was in the midfield, I think the ref would have whistled the foul.
"I think he (Kee-hee) was reckless. He went all the way to defend his goal, and I understand, then his movement continues, and it was reckless."
The play came during a wild sequence which started when Vancouver striker Joaquin Ardaiz took a shot that was stopped by Seattle goalkeeper Stefan Frei. The ball rolled to the Whitecaps' Hwang Inbeom, whose shot was blocked again by a diving Frei. After the play, Inbeom had his legs taken out from underneath him by Kee-hee's sliding tackle.
Excitement rippled through the crowd of 24,803 at BC Place Stadium when Sibiga first signalled the penalty kick but there were loud boos after the call was reversed.
It's not the first time this year the Whitecaps have had a close call go against them.
"Why is one a penalty and the other one not?," Dos Santos questioned.
The unbeaten Sounders (3-0-1) had outscored their opponents 10-2 in their first three matches. To counter the Seattle attack, the Whitecaps (0-3-1) played a disciplined, defensive game. That forced the Sounders to move the ball around the outside in hopes of breaking the Vancouver shape.
"The boys were fantastic defending," said Vancouver goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau, who recorded his first clean sheet of the season. "It was the mindset of not losing a duel. We showed it today."
Dos Santos said the tie, against a powerful team like Seattle, was important for Vancouver. The three Whitecaps losses had all been by one goal.
"It's always relief to break the ice," he said. "You don't want pressure to accumulate too much. You see in the three losses, it was little details, little things."
Vancouver had another good scoring chance in the in the 76th minute. Winger Lucas Venuto sent a ball into the box that forward Victor Giro flicked with his left foot, forcing Frei to make a save.
Crepeau had to look sharp in the 64th minute when Seattle's Gustav Svensson blasted a shot from well outside the box. Crepeau steered it clear with a two-hand save.
The Whitecaps also got a big defensive play from Erik Godoy early in the second half. Kee-hee headed a ball to the open corner of the net but Godoy was able to clear the ball off the line.
Sounder midfielder Cristian Roldan said his team couldn't convert its chances.
"It was a frustrating game on our part," he said. "We created quite a few chances (but) a Vancouver player was just in the right spot for a block.
"In the end it felt like we lost two points."
NOTES: The game made MLS history with two Koreans — Vancouver’s Inbeom and Seattle’s Kee-hee — playing against each other for the first time. …It was the 136th meeting across all competitions between Vancouver and Seattle, the most of any soccer rivalry in the U.S. and Canada. … Whitecaps left back Ali Adnan, acquired March 9 on loan from Italian Serie A club Udinese Calcio, is the first Iraqi-born player in MLS.