Report and Reaction: Hedges trims playoff chances for Whitecaps

Report and Reaction: Hedges trims playoff chances for Whitecaps

Goals in the final five minutes of each half would prove costly to Vancouver Whitecaps and may have shut the door on their hopes for the playoffs in a 2-1 loss to top of the table FC Dallas.

Kei Kamara scored his 13th goal of the MLS season in the second half to even the match, but his header was bookended by FC Dallas goals from Santiago Mosquera late in the first and the winner from Matt Hedges with four minutes of the match remaining.

Carl Robinson made only one change from the team that played well, but ultimately lost, to Seattle last weekend, with Yordy Reyna returning from a one match suspension.

It was the visitors who had the best early chance, however, when Stefan Marinovic failed to collect a bouncing long ball in the 6th minute and nearly allowed Michael Barrios to nip past him and tuck the ball away, but Doneil Henry was back to recover and clear the danger.

Cristian Techera’s shot in the 23rd minute was the ‘Caps first chance of the first half beating the keeper but grazing the bar.

Ten minutes later they would come close again when Alphonso Davies cut into the box, having his shot deflect off a defender into Jesse Gonzalez’s hands.

FC Dallas had their chances during the opening half and finally converted in the 42nd minute when Mosquera headed in a Urruti free kick after the 5 foot 6 midfielder got goal side of the entire ‘Caps defence and rose above everyone to head home.

After the break, the Caps applied pressure to get the equalizer and were finally rewarded in the 66th minute with Kamara heading in a cross from Davies. The goal seemed to come from nowhere but finally gave the home side, and crowd, some hope.

Vancouver had a number of chances in a short period where Jake Nerwinski was able to get his crosses into danger areas only to have the opposing defenders clear the ball before it got to a Cap.

Once again the final five minutes of the half would prove costly as Vancouver conceded the winner on a corner with Barrios flicking the ball to Hedges, unmarked in the six yard box, who finished off the match, and potentially the season for the home side.

What was especially surprising was the way the ‘Caps gave up the goals with Dallas scoring on set pieces, which is normally a strength for Vancouver.

However, not surprising was that once again this year the Whitecaps were unable to close out halves without giving up a goal, nor that they conceded two goals yet again.

With the other results in the West going in Vancouver’s favour on Saturday, the ‘Caps had every opportunity to make some ground with a victory, as they did last week. But one again they spurned the help and couldn’t get the job done themselves.

Unfortunately, they will now drop to eighth spot in the Western Conference after getting leapfrogged by LA Galaxy. They will have to travel next Saturday to Southern California to take on the Galaxy where they will try to ease that door open and get back into the race for the playoffs. The postseason is looking a more and more forlorn proposition with each game.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 FC Dallas 2

ATT: 21,190

VANCOUVER: Stefan Marinovic; Jake Nerwinski, Kendall Waston, Doneil Henry, Brett Levis (Nicolás Mezquida 46); Alphonso Davies, Aly Ghazal (Jordon Mutch 64), Russell Teibert, Cristian Techera; Kei Kamara, Yordy Reyna [Substitutes not used: Sean Melvin, Sean Franklin, Efraín Juárez, Felipe, Erik Hurtado]

DALLAS: Jesse Gonzalez; Reggie Cannon, Matt Hedges, Reto Ziegler, Marquinhos Pedroso; Carlos Gruezo, Victor Ulloa; Michael Barrios, Maximiliano Urruti (Pablo Aranguiz 88), Santiago Mosquera (Maynor Figueroa 83); Cristian Colman (Tesho Akindele 77) [Substitutes not used: Jimmy Maurer, Ryan Hollingshead, Dominique Badji, Abel Aguilar]

REPORT:

VANCOUVER WHITECAPS

CARL ROBINSON

On how he would describe the result:

“Same again. Because after a lot of hard work getting back into the game, from a real poor first goal, we concede in the 87th minute with eight people in the box and someone free, which has probably been a fair assessment of the season. I just told them in there that the game is real close, week in and week out, and it comes down to the little details. Everyone works as hard as everyone. Everyone tries, everyone runs and tackles, but it’s those details in your job, whether in set pieces, or transitions that decide games. Today, credit to Dallas, they scored off two set pieces. Really bad from our point of view, but that’s been our season. It’s my responsibility, I’m in charge, I’m the leader, I’m the captain of the ship as you put it. My fault that we lost today.”

On giving up set piece goals:

“If you look at the season, I think it’s been periods of games. When there’s a set piece, it’s not resting time, it’s talking time. I don’t think we’ve got enough talkers when the ball is dead. Both balls, both set pieces were actually settled. It wasn’t a quick set piece. It’s my responsibility, I’m the manager, I’m in charge.”

On his message to the team:

“Keep fighting. I said if you want to fight individually and collectively, we’re all fighting. We’re disappointed but if we’re being honest, we’ve not quite been good enough in the last two games. Doesn’t matter how you play, I don’t think there was a great deal in the game today chances wise, things like that, but last week is a perfect example – play great and lose. We’re at that stage where that doesn’t matter, it’s not about how you play, it’s about trying to get points on the board and we’ve got no points in two home games after winning three or four out of five or six.”

On next week’s match at LA Galaxy:

“It was always going to be because there are two or three teams fighting for one place or four teams fighting for two places, so we know they’re a good team, they’ve got good players. But we can’t be fearful as you said there, we approached this match like we could win it and I thought we played in third gear in the first half and then switched off on the set piece. Second half, we played better but again it cost us at the end of the game but we’ll go there, we’ll have a game with them. We like going to LA and we’ve got to win because it’s put your big boy pants on or go home, that’s the reality of it.”

On the disappointment of not getting the result:

“It’s disappointing without a doubt, a point wouldn’t have been a bad result for us but we threw that away, which we’ve done a lot of times this year, so we’ll keep fighting. Strange things happen in football and I do believe that they’ll be one team whether it’s on the east coast or the west coast that surprises a few people and we’ve got to believe it’s us. They’ll be disappointed today, the boys are very emotional in there, I’m emotional for them. I pick the team, I’m in charge so it’s my responsibility which I’ll keep on reiterating.”

On selecting today’s starters:

“Well, we’ve got good players but that shows what the starting boys have done, they deserve to play again this week even though we lost last week. I thought the performance was very good. But difference makers, what do you class as a difference maker? Do you class them as an attacking player or a defensive player? We went very attacking on the bench today. We’ve got good players and some of them will get a run out next week because we’re down to the last few games and we need to win. Going to LA, I’m sure the game will be wide open against a very good team who got a good result today. But do I think we’ve got enough players? We’ve got a good squad in there, we’ve got a vibrant team who are disappointed today and there are people who have been left out of the 18 today for various reasons but we’ve not quite been good enough.”

On substitution decisions:

“The reason I substituted Brett Levis was because he was hurt again, so I had no choice on that. It was a substitution that I would have probably make at some stage with Nico [Mezquida] coming on because I think Nico has been very good, even though he didn’t score his goal last week, so that was forced. Is that the reason we conceded a second goal? No. No, I wish I could mark the boy on the first initial corner but I can’t.”

On Cristian Techera’s status:

“He’s okay, he passed a protocol test which is important. We don’t want anyone getting injured. He is okay but I don’t think he played to his level today. I think our attacking plays were slightly off compared to last week when I thought we were on and you can’t win tight games if you’re key players are off.”

On the no-call in the possible handball:

“I love Kells [referee Alan Kelly] I think he’s great, you can have open dialogue with him, you can shout at him and he’ll smile at you, which is good. Maybe, I haven’t seen it but that’s not the reason we’ve lost the game. The reason we lost the game is because we didn’t mark on two set pieces which we’ve done all year. So, you have to accept it and you have to be responsible for it. And like I said it’s not them, it’s not them in there, it’s me, but I’m okay with that.”

KENDALL WASTON

On today’s loss:

“There are a lot of opportunities obviously because we didn’t focus on the little details on set pieces and it cost us the game so it’s hurtful. We are very disappointed and in the end what matters is that we lost three points that could have helped us to try to be closer to that playoff spot.”

On the ‘Caps playoff chances:

“Well, if we have five more games I think there are the points that are going to help us to get there. In football, you never know what’s going to happen and if we still have the chances, we will continue to try and get there.”

KEI KAMARA

On today’s loss:

“Bad, we lost in our home again. And we want to get all three points in this house every time we play. Last game, against Seattle obviously we say we played well but it didn’t happened, and then today just gave it away and that hurts really bad.

On deliveries:

“I pray on balls being in the air, whether it is in the box or not. Every time a ball is in the air, I want to make sure I am dominant and in the position. We are in a crucial time in the season in games and everything counts, every cross, every pass. So that is why I get frustrated sometimes when the crosses aren’t coming because I know that is the time to punish the team.

On the ‘Caps playoff chances:

“We are in the locker room and we are talking to each other seeing how many games we have left, even home games and away games, three and three. Definitely we can maximize points in our house and we can go out and try to steal some points from someone else. But today, they got away. Now it is all about five games left, how many points can we steal from the rest of the teams. We talk about LA, Portland, and even LAFC, they are going to be in that position where they need all those points.”

FC DALLAS

OSCAR PAREJA

On tonight’s result:

“It was a great game from our side. The whole performance was very correct and complete. The discipline, the organization, and the response that the players had towards the game plan was excellent. I’m very proud to see the guys get those three points against a good side. It was a very good performance.”

On road success this season:

“We have increased our commitment and responsibility with the defensive part of the game. Going on the road, you have teams that have the initiative and obviously the go look for their goals and take advantage of their place. You need to be extra disciplined there. This year, we have increased that part. But also the flexibility has helped us as well, just to have different ways to find the points.”

On getting goals off set pieces:

“This group has worked on the set plays with Josema Bazan and Marco Ferruzzi. They are doing a terrific job of preparing all those actions with a lot of responsibility, and today they were rewarded. Those set plays are crucial in the way you get points. Sometimes it’s after a foul, in the corner, in a throw-in, and avoiding them because today we played against probably one of the best teams in the league on set plays and we did well.”

On table positioning:

“We have an important game in Portland. But today, the points were massive for us. Obviously, we’re happy to be back in first place. But the journey is long.”

On Maynor Figueroa’s performance:

“Maynor’s experience and discipline tactically, he knows what it takes to get points at that stage of the game. That was a big help because I thought the defensive line was getting exposed a little in the last 15 minutes because Vancouver was throwing bodies in there. With Maynor, we solved that problem.”

On Alphonso Davies:

“Amazing player, amazing player. It was very difficult for us to control him with his speed and ability, the way he changed rhythm, and the way he changed from the right to the left, he created a lot of problems, and fortunately, we controlled most of them. He’s a very excellent player.”

MATT HEDGES

On today’s win:

“I thought we played well. We had a game plan to come in. We tried to be defensively strong and we tried to create our chances on set plays like we did.”

On his goal:

“It was a play that we work on sometimes when the other guy tries to flick it to the back post. It was kind of a flick play.”

MAXI URRUTI (through an interpreter)

On importance of today’s win:

“We need to keep fighting and to keep on playing at this level. In the end, it was very important for us to get this win against Vancouver.”

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Steve Pandher
Authored by: Steve Pandher

AFTN Soccer Show co-host and Senior Writer

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