VANCOUVER - Playing the best team in the league proved the perfect medicine for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
The Whitecaps used an early first-half goal by midfielder Sebastian Fernandez to defeat the Seattle Sounders 1-0 in Major League Soccer play Saturday.
Vancouver had looked ineffective in their last two games, including a loss that ended a franchise record eight-game undefeated streak. The Whitecaps were revitalized against their Cascadia rivals, carrying much of the play and buckling down defensively when Seattle pressed in the second half.
There was a large contingent of Seattle fans among the loud, flag-waving sellout crowd of 22,500 at B.C. Place Stadium.
Fernandez opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he took a pass from Pedro Morales and launched a rocket from about 30 yards out. The blast sailed past the outstretched fingers of Sounders' keeper Stefan Frei.
It was Vancouver's first goal since June 7, ending a two-game scoring drought.
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for Seattle, who came into the game unbeaten in five matches. Seattle continues to lead the MLS standings with 35 points from a 11-3-3 record.
Vancouver and Seattle tied in the team's previous meeting in May.
The Whitecaps remain fifth in the Western Conference but climbed to within a point of fourth-place Colorado. Vancouver has 25 points from a 6-3-7 record.
The Whitecaps pressed for most of the first half and created several good scoring chances.
In the 19th minute, Morales lofted a free kick from a sharp angle that landed in the box. The ball sat tantalizing for a few seconds but was cleared before a Whitecap could touch it.
One of the prettiest plays came in the 33rd minute when defender Steven Beitashour sent a perfect cross to a charging Erik Hurtado, but the forward sent the shot high and wide.
In extra time of the first half, Morales struck a curling shot that Frei stopped.
Seattle's best scoring chance of the first half came in the 19th minute when a header floated over top of the Whitecaps net.
The Sounders began to press in the second half. Midfielder Lamar Neagle came close in the 52nd minute, firing a shot that drifted just wide of the Vancouver net.
Seattle's Tristan Bowen, a second-half substitution, banged a shot in the 60th minute that took a dangerous bounce before being gobbled up by Whitecaps' keeper David Ousted.
Seattle played the game without midfielders Osvaldo Alonso and Gonzalo Pineda who both were suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
Notes: Morales wore the captain's armband with Jay DeMerit out with an ankle injury. … Beitashour returned to the Whitecaps lineup for the first time since May 10 after playing for Iran at the World Cup. … Vancouver midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker says the birth of his daughter Scarlet has "completely changed" his life. … The Whitecaps play at home next Saturday against Chivas USA, travel to Toronto for a game July 16, then play in Salt Lake July 19.