How would Vancouver Whitecaps perform after last week’s dismantling in DC? A bounce back performance or more of the same? That’s what everyone was waiting to see. We got the answer at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Saturday night.
That answer was better, but still nowhere near good enough.
Despite having a multitude of chances to go in at half time with the lead, it was the same old story for the Whitecaps, who found Nick Rimando on top form and missed their opportunities and were eventually punished by an RSL side who remain unbeaten after a 1-0 win.
Here’s our match report and full postgame reaction from both locker rooms.
Another week, another poor showing in front of goal for Vancouver Whitecaps, who still haven’t scored from open play all season and made it three straight games being blanked, as Real Salt Lake ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a 55th minute goal from Juan Manuel “Burrito” Martinez.
It wasn’t for the lack of chances. Vancouver had a slew of them in the first half, but without sounding like a broken record, they didn’t take them and were made to pay.
Carl Robinson made a couple of changes to last week’s poor showing, with Matias Laba back from suspension and Nicolas Mezquida and Octavio Rivero returning from injury. The hope was that the two Uruguayan would like up with third member Cristian Techera to try and rekindle their fine form and understanding from last year.
The Whitecaps had the first chance five minutes in when Rivero got on the end of a long ball over the top from Kendall Waston, but flashed his an inch past the left post.
Nick Rimando had to act quick two minutes later when Kekuta Manneh’s shot deflected of Aaron Maund and was heading slowly towards an empty net.
RSL’s defence was being caught out by Vancouver’s speed up front and they nearly paid dearly for it in the 9th minute when Techera’s shot was deflected goalwards before Manneh got a foot on the ball but Maund got the block in to clear the danger off the goalline.
The teams were both enjoying their share of possession and sniffs around goal, without ever really threatening to break the deadlock.
Rivero had another one on one tussle with Rimando in the 29th minute, showing his pace as he headed for goal, but the keeper again came up with the save.
RSL had the better of the play to end the half, firing over on a couple of occasions, but the teams headed in to the break on level terms and with no goals between them.
It was a strong half from the ‘Caps, much better than last week’s debacle, but Vancouver had chances they could, should and must take. We’ve seen this story play out far too many times in recent seasons.
Techera nearly got the Whitecaps off to a perfect start to the second half, as he was almost slipped in but Rimando was out quick to block.
Rimando came up big again in the 50th minute when Rivero won the ball and played in Mezquida, but the keeper stood tall to turn away the Uruguayan’s strong shot.
The home side hit back and David Ousted could only stand and watch as Yura Movsisyan crashed a first timer off the post, after getting in a low Tony Beltran cross from eight yards out.
RSL were to get the breakthrough moments later though when the ball came to Martinez in the box after some nice work from Joao Plata, and the Argentine showed nice footwork to make room for himself before burying the ball past David Ousted from six yards out.
Vancouver were leaving some space at the back as they pushed for an equaliser and Luke Mulholland nearly punished them for it, but fired over just past the midway mark of the half.
Ousted turned a fierce strike from Martinez around the post in the 74th minute as RSL looked to kill the game off. Plata thought he had done just that with eight minutes remaining but Tim Parker got back quickly to clear his goalbound effort off the line.
Robinson moved to three at the back as Vancouver felt they could get back into the game and Manneh forced another save from Rimando moments later with a shot from the edge of the box.
But the home side easily saw out the closing minutes without any danger, to remain unbeaten this season and send the Whitecaps down to second bottom in the Western Conference.
The way the team is playing right now, and with some tough matches coming up for the remainder of this month, it’s hard to see how vancouver are going to get out of this rut anytime soon.
A complete change in formation and tactics? Some fresh faces in the line-up? Make some moves before the transfer window closes?
Whatever the answer is, Robbo needs to find it and quickly. With teams like RSL, Colorado and San Jose, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, looking much better teams and picking up points already this year, it’s going to be a tough slog for the ‘Caps this season.
FINAL SCORE: Real Salt Lake 1 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
SALT LAKE: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Justen Glad, Aaron Maund, Demar Phillips; Kyle Beckerman, John Stertzer, Luke Mulholland (Jordan Allan 75); Juan Manuel Martinez, Yura Movsisyan (Devon Sandoval 90), Joao Plata [Suns Not Used: Jeff Attinella, Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave, Danilo Acosta, Olmes Garcia]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Fraser Aird (Erik Hurtado 83), Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Andrew Jacobson (Masato Kudo 78), Cristian Techera, Nicolas Mezquida (Christian Bolanos 61), Kekuta Manneh; Octavio Rivero [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Pa Modou Kah, Russell Teibert]
On the game:
“We didn’t make it in today and unfortunately it comes back to bite you in the bum when you miss chance after chance. Unfortunately we’re going to have to take that.”
On RSL’s attack:
“I think every team has got the excitement at attacking plays. Salt Lake’s front three really plays very dangerous. They at the moment have scored a number of goals and create a number of chances. Every team has them. We have ours. Unfortunately ours aren’t scoring at the moment, but we created chances. You only need one chance to score a goal, and that’s what happened today, so credit to them for that. They pick up the 3 points. We’re going home with nothing, but I was proud of our forwards today because we didn’t play well last week in D.C. I wanted a response from them and they certainly gave me a response.”
On halftime in locker room after missed chances in the first half:
“They were a group of young guys in there, so when things don’t go your way, sometimes you think negative things and negative thoughts. I said just to keep going and we did keep going. We knew the first goal of any MLS game was crucial, unfortunately we didn’t get it. They did, so we just have to go again. We press ourselves down again tomorrow. We fly back to Vancouver and got to get back to work. It’s disappointing, because I think we deserve something out of the game, but football is disappointing sometimes.”
On the game plan:
“I thought we had done well this week. I thought we dominated portions especially the first half and had our chances, but goals change games. That’s what we got to recognize. I thought the guys up front did extremely well, but we need to put those chances in. If we do that it’s a different game. All in all performance wise, I think we did great.”
On bouncing back after big loss in DC:
“We would have wanted a result here and bounce back, but again we need to take the performance in and take the positives from that and then go back to work. It’s a rough patch right now, but it’s about getting back out. It’s about sticking together now and grinding it out. We know with MLS seasons there are going to be rough patches once and awhile and it’s about sticking together and pulling through.”
On next week’s opponent against Dallas:
“The games can’t come soon enough. I think Dallas is a strong team. They’re a good away team. Their speed makes them a good counter-attacking team. It’s going to be a tough match, but we’re looking forward to getting back home in BC place and putting on hopefully a performance.”
Takeaways from the match:
“I thought we started well, played, came out well and gave ourselves chances to score some goals. We pressed well and couldn’t get that goal. In the end they grabbed one towards the end and then we’re pushing and it kind of opened up at that point but I think before the goal we did fairly well. We gave ourselves pretty good chance to win the game honestly.”
On moving forward after another loss:
“Totally different. I think we played well. We came out and did what we wanted to do and gave them trouble, so it’s a result we don’t want obviously, but this is something we can build off of.”
REAL SALT LAKE
On Juan Manuel Martinez:
“I think all week long we tried to work on changing our point of attack quickly to isolate the guys 1v1 or 2v1 and trying to change the point of attack quickly, whether it was with a long diagonal or with quick passes. I thought we did a pretty good job of that tonight. We weren’t as sharp in the first half but we got a little bit better in the second half. Joao and Juan put themselves in great positions. Yura was really occupying the two center backs. I thought we did a really good job of our game plan. But we could still do better.”
On the creativity of the attacking three:
“I wish I knew what he was going to do every time because he does some really special things. He (Martinez) got out of some really tricky situations. All of our attacking players are extremely talented and when they’re playing with each other you can do special things you can do some things that you don’t necessarily think are going to happen because you trust the player that is giving the ball to you. I think that we can still get even better. That is what is exciting.”
On exceeding expectations with the undefeated record:
“Listen we’re taking this one game at a time. At the end of the day we are happy where we are. We could be even better if we would have made some better choices. But we’re striving to get better every game. Yesterday I told the guys ‘We need to make sure we don’t get too big of heads. We need to think that we are 0-0-0.’ Every time approaching it that way; we’re going to give the guys Sunday and Monday off and we’re going to forget about this game and focus on LA. I think the guys really enjoy those kind of things. We’re not going to dwell on our record. We’re just going to get back to working harder and keep this going.”
On the performance of Aaron Maund:
“He is getting better and better and better. He’s taking care of his body and he is really turning into a professional. He’s doing work with Tyrone, we’re doing video, he is just really focused right now. These kind of things are excellent for the rest of our players that are seeing him go from not making 18’s to just making 18’s to getting some spot starts to becoming a starter last year and now building and becoming better. It’s a beautiful thing and I’m really happy for him. You’re starting to see that with Justen Glad. That’s a great thing. I can tell you one thing, Jamison Olave is working his tail off right now and I really like our center back situation. There is a lot of competition. That is a beautiful thing for us.”
On Vancouver controlling the first 20 minutes of play:
“They have dangerous players and they were playing pretty direct. I thought we were bending but we didn’t break. Obviously at the end of the day not everything is going to go your way. WE talked about how we wanted to start the game and that didn’t quite happen. We weren’t great with the ball, turning it over easy and then dealing with it. The goalkeeper made a great save, one of their center backs sacrificed himself to make a great play. I thought Kyle and John did a really good job for their first time playing together all year in their defensive role. It settled down and we started to get going a little bit and then it was building and building and building. That’s what you want.”
On all the clubs giving them their best shot:
“I’m sure LA is going to want to do that. I really don’t know how to answer that. Let’s just go to work. Let’s go to work on Tuesday. Do the best that we can to prepare. Then we also have a belief. We’ve been doing this on the road as well. It’s not like we’ve only been getting home results. We’ve been grinding out road games. We want to get three points in LA and do the right things and the result will come the way we want it to.”
JUAN MANUEL MARTINEZ
On his goal:
“It was an important score but it’s more important for you to score to win a game.”
On his bursts of creativity in the attack:
“I improvise. It depends on what the other team does. You can’t start a play thinking ‘I’m going to do that.’ You have to see what the opponent’s going to do.”
On what is making the team successful:
“We have a very good team. With a good keeper and defense and at the moment, we’ve scored every game. When you score every game you have a good chance to win.”
On the changes in the second half:
“Of course, the first half we didn’t play good but the second half was different. We changed our minds. We moved higher and gave high pressure and we kept the ball and we played better. We have to do that from the first minute.”
On two straight home shutouts:
“We’re just working hard. Everyone is covering for each other. Every game just trying to get a little bit better. Today wasn’t our best game but we definitely worked hard. Made some special plays and kept a zero.”
On the defensive effort:
“Yeah they’re great. I think everyone would put their hand up and say we have to get a little tighter. They got behind us a lot in the first half, but we dealt with the situation and that’s a good thing. When we’re put in some difficult situations and you can come out of them because the guy next to you is helping you out, that means you’re doing something right and these guys on the back line are working hard and we’ll continue to work hard.”
On the feeling of an unbeaten locker room:
“There is some confidence for sure. Like I told the guys before the game, it’s nice to see but I want to be on top at the end of the season. We don’t stay there unless we continue to work hard day in and day out and bring these performances and effort to each game.”
On playing in his 399th career game and the possibility of reaching 400 next week:
“I’m lucky. I’m lucky to get there. A lot of hard work obviously from myself, but teammates and coaches and I’m not stopping soon. Chasing all those records.”