VANCOUVER – Tim Parker’s only disappointment with his first professional goal was that it didn’t come in a victory.
The rookie defender for the Vancouver Whitecaps deftly backheeled a corner kick past Seattle goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the second half Wednesday, but the Sounders responded with an equalizer 11 minutes later as the teams played to a 1-1 draw in the CONCACAF Champions League.
“It was great to score at home, great to score against Seattle,” said the 22-year-old. “Just a little heartbroken that we didn’t get the win.”
Lamar Neagle replied in the 72nd minute for the Sounders as both clubs opened up play in Group F with a single point.
Parker’s goal came off a delivery from Pedro Morales moments after Erik Hurtado recorded Vancouver’s first shot of the night in a game that offered little entertainment value for the first hour.
“I tried to get to the near post and beat my man,” said Parker. “I was fortunate enough that it found the back of the net.”
Neagle’s response came off a miss-hit Seattle free kick that looped over the Vancouver penalty area to Andy Rose on the right. He sent a ball back into the box to a wide-open Neagle, who quickly fired a shot high over Paolo Tornaghi.
“Unfortunately we switched off at the vital moment and let them back in with a bad goal,” said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson, whose team was making its Champions League debut. “But I think it was fair result.”
Seattle came in having been shut out in each of its last four games in Major League Soccer – including a demoralizing 3-0 home defeat to Vancouver on Saturday. Sounders head coach Sigi Schmid said Neagle’s breakthrough was encouraging for a team that prior to Wednesday had lost eight of its last nine.
“I thought we were unfortunate to go behind 1-0,” said Schmid. “Happy to see us get an equalizer. It’s been a long time.”
The Whitecaps, who sit first in the Western Conference in MLS and have a stated goal of hosting their first-ever playoff game this fall, rested their entire starting 11 from the weekend, while the Sounders made eight changes. Vancouver has an especially busy August with eight matches in the league, Amway Canadian Championship final and CONCACAF competition.
There was lack of cohesion showed by each team’s mostly youthful units for the first two-thirds of the match – especially Vancouver’s – and Parker’s goal sparked the crowd at B.C. Place Stadium that was getting increasingly frustrated with the home team’s performance.
“That happens sometimes when you make that many changes,” said Robinson. “But it was a win-win because it was important I got these guys games… it gave me a few answers to questions I had in my mind with some players.”
Seattle had the only real chance of the opening 45 minutes when Rose’s free header from the penalty spot flashed just over Tornaghi’s crossbar in the 35th.
The game started with the roof open at B.C. Place despite a light drizzle, but the rain stopped and the sun appeared not long after, one of the only early highlights.
“I’ll never fault their work ethic,” Robinson said of his players. “It was no champagne football, but there was a lot of hard work.”