It wasn’t pretty, but it’s the three points that matter most at the end of the 90 minutes and they were staying in Vancouver, as WFC2 came away with a narrow 1-0 victory over their Cascadian rivals from Portland, Timbers 2, at Thunderbird Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
In a game with very little goalmouth action, Daniel Haber’s 87th minute strike was the difference between the two teams, giving Vancouver their third win of the season so far over Portland and keeping them on top of the USL Western Conference standings and extending their lead by four points.
A win is a win, but as hard as the game was to watch at times, injuries and suspensions meant that it was a very makeshift and inexperienced WFC2 line up that came away with all three points, and head coach Alan Koch praised his team for grinding out the result.
“Obviously a bit of a lifeless game,” Koch told AFTN after the match. “A lot of chess being played out there in terms of what we do tactically, what do they do tactically. As much as the performance wasn’t as good as we’d liked to have seen it being, under the circumstances, and considering the players we had out and who we had to literally throw in today, I’m very, very proud of that group.”
Koch was particularly pleased that Haber’s hard work in the last few games finally saw some reward, but also praised his makeshift defence, who kept their third clean sheet of the season, and their first since the third game of the season.
“To keep a clean sheet against a team like them is credit to [Marco] Carducci, it’s credit to a back four that have never played together before, and obviously the midfield and forwards, and the work they had to put in to make sure we did get that clean sheet,” Koch added.
“Thankfully we nullified the majority of the opportunities that they got. We had quite a few that we could have taken and thank goodness for Daniel Haber, he got a little bit of weight of his shoulders to score, because he’s been waiting for it, but very, very happy to get the three points.”
Haber put in one hell of a shift again, even though he suffered a bit from a lack of service in the first half, some of which was addressed at half time.
“Not necessarily the service to him,” Koch said. “We spoke about playing in their half. When you play in their half it gives your attacking players more opportunities to be on the ball. Daniel hasn’t played as a nine for us very much for us during the course of the season. Obviously Kyle’s [Greig] played there. He has to develop relationships with [Marco] Bustos next to him and players out wide knowing the runs that he’s going to make.
“He didn’t get as much service as we’d like to get to him in the first half, but the more the guys play together, and the more that he plays in that position, the better the relationships will be and the more opportunities that will come.”
June’s been an interesting month for WFC2 so far, starting it off with two losses but bouncing back with two straight home victories to keep them at the top of the table, and the team’s attitude to those two defeats has pleased Koch.
“We speak about the objective when you play at home is to get three points,” Koch said. “There’s a lot of parity in this league. There’s no team that’s an easy game. We’ve beaten Portland three times, but they could easily have beaten us all three times in those three games.
“It is very important to get three points when you play at home. Last week was a bit of a nailbiter at the end and this week was a bit of a nailbiter for different reasons too.”
It was also good to get those two home wins under their belt as the ‘Caps now face four games on the road, and a lot of travel, in one of their toughest stretches of the season, not returning back to Thunderbird Stadium until July 24th.
WFC2’s away record has been excellent this season, picking up four wins and 14 points from their seven road matches so far, so there seems to be no fear for this team wherever they go on the road this season.
“To be honest, we don’t fear anybody in the league,” Koch admitted. “We have a lot of respect for every team we play against, but every game we play, we want to put in a good performance that hopefully leads to a positive result and gets three points. The goal in every game is to get three points. Whether it’s at home or away, it doesn’t make any difference.
“There’s a lot of confidence in the group. We obviously went off the tracks a little bit there for a little while with a couple of back to back losses and a couple of draws, but we feel good about ourselves. The guys didn’t put their heads down when things went that way, they continued to work hard and they’re reaping their rewards right now.”
The good news for the ‘Caps is that they’ll be heading on the road with pretty much a full squad to choose from, with the injuries that decimated them today all minor ailments.
Captain Kyle Greig was suspended for this game due to yellow card accumulation (surely another sign that he’s ready for the first team!), and the ‘Caps were without Kadin Chung, Sem De Wit and Brett Levis, who all picked up some niggles and knocks heading into the match.
“They’re all short term things, thank goodness,” Koch revealed. “I would hope that the majority of them should be good to be back training some time this week and should be good to go for next weekend.”