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2021 Major League Soccer, Regular Season
  • Ryan Gauld (20')
  • Fredy Montero (8' PEN)

Whitecaps tie Sounders, secure first playoff berth in four years

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Ryan Gauld scores the equalizer vs. Sounders (0:36)

Ryan Gauld brings Vancouver to a 1-1 tie with Seattle as he heads in a goal in the 20th minute of the match. (0:36)

Ryan Gauld scored the tying goal as the Vancouver Whitecaps clinched their first Major League Soccer playoff berth since 2017 with a 1-1 draw with the visiting Seattle Sounders on Sunday.

The Whitecaps (12-9-13, 49 points) needed a win or draw in the regular-season finale to qualify for the postseason. Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau helped assure that by making three saves, including one in the final minute of second-half stoppage time, as Vancouver finished with a six-game unbeaten streak (3-0-3) since a 4-1 loss Oct. 9 at Seattle.

Fredy Montero scored on a penalty kick for the Sounders (17-8-9, 60 points), who could've clinched the Western Conference title and a first-round bye with a victory.

Instead, Seattle, which opened the season with an MLS-record 13-game unbeaten streak, finished with a six-game winless run (0-3-3) and dropped into second place behind Colorado, a 5-2 winner against Los Angeles FC on Sunday.

The Sounders will host Real Salt Lake in the opening round of the playoffs, while Vancouver will travel to Sporting Kansas City.

Seattle played without forward Raul Ruidiaz, who tied the franchise's single-season record with 17 goals, and midfield standouts Nicolas Lodeiro and Joao Paulo.

The Sounders took an early lead, with Montero converting a penalty kick in the eighth minute. A corner kick by Nicolas Benezet for Cristian Roldan went off the arm of Vancouver's Cristian Dajome for a penalty.

Montero, who played his past three MLS seasons in Vancouver after starting his career in Seattle, hammered the kick into the lower right corner of the net as Crepeau went the other way.

Gauld tied it in the 20th minute. A cross from the left wing went off the head of Vancouver's Brian White just before he collided with Seattle defender Nouhou Tolo and to Gauld near the top left of the 6-yard box. Gauld put a header off the far post and into the net. White suffered a gash over his right eye on the play but stayed in the game after being attended to.

Crepeau, a Canadian international, made three saves in the first half to keep the Whitecaps close. He stopped a shot from outside the penalty area by Seattle's Kelyn Rowe in the 18th minute, a point-blank attempt by Montero in the 26th, and a 6-yard shot by Roldan in the 34th.

Crepeau also smothered Montero's attempt from 5 yards out in second-half stoppage time.