Report and Reaction: Historic first Champions League win puts Vancouver Whitecaps in pole position for quarter-finals

Report and Reaction: Historic first Champions League win puts Vancouver Whitecaps in pole position for quarter-finals

Vancouver Whitecaps are sitting pretty at the top of CONCACAF Champions League Group F following a 1-0 win over Honduran champions CD Olimpia on Wednesday night.

Kianz Froese’s lone first half goal saw the ‘Caps through and the game saw Carl Robinson execute a perfect gameplan – get the three points needed with using just one players likely to start Saturday’s massive game against Seattle in MLS action.

With four points from their first two Champions League games, the ‘Caps can now clinch a quarter-final spot with a win at the Sounders next week.

Here’s our report and reaction from the match.

MATCH REPORT:

Vancouver Whitecaps took a big step towards advancing through the group stage of CONCACAF Champions League by defeating C.D. Olimpia 1-0. The difference in the match was a first half goal by Kianz Froese, while Paolo Tornaghi secured the cleansheet.

Veteran striker Robert Earnshaw almost provided a spectacular goal in the 9th minute when he almost connected on an overhead bicycle kick. However it was the visitors who had the better chance in the opening minutes when Ever Alvarado’s header crashed off the crossbar two minutes later.

The only shot on goal in the first half came in the 42nd minute when Kianz Froese scored to give the Caps the lead.

Nicolas Mezquida sent in Darren Mattocks with a nice through pass. The Jamaican lost control of the ball but luckily Froese was there to send his shot, deflecting off Valladeres, looping over the last defender and into the net.

Just before the half, Mattocks had another chance as he stole the ball from Kevin Alvarez inside the box only to send his close range attempt way over the net.

Both teams had their chances in the second half with Olimpia almost levelling the match in the 78th minute when the ball fell to Roger Rojas near the penalty spot but he fired it wildly high.

Earnshaw had a chance to seal the win in the final minute of normal time when he found himself attempting a chip over the keeper from in close, only to have it hit Valladeres in the face with Marco Bustos sending the follow up wide of the net.

As the final whistle blew, the Whitecaps clinched their first ever win in the competition and now hold their destiny in their own hands. With a win in Seattle next week, Vancouver will get through this round and will not need a result in their return trip to Honduras.

Before they travel down the I5, the Caps will host Seattle in MLS action this Saturday as they look to win their third straight Cascadia Cup.

FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 0 CD Olimpia

ATT: 15,491

VANCOUVER: Paolo Tornaghi; Jordan Smith, Kendal Waston, Diego Rodriguez, Sam Adekugbe; Matias Laba, Deybi Flores (Christian Dean 78); Kianz Froese, Nicolas Mezquida (Tim Parker, 85), Darren Mattocks(Marco Bustos 68); Robert Earnshaw [Substitutes not used: David Ousted, Cristian Techera, Russell Teibert, Caleb Clarke]

OLIMPIA: Noel Valladeres; Kevin Alvarez (Roger Rojas 77), Johnny Palacios, Favio de Souza, Ever Alvarado; Carlos Mejia (Michael Chirinos 56), German Mejia, Bryan Johnson, Oscar Salas; Alberth Elis, Romell Quioto (Javier Estupinan 62) [Substitutes not used: Donis Escober, Elmer Guity, David Meza, Jose Israel Fonseca]

REACTION:

CARL ROBINSON

Thoughts on how the game played out:

“It was exactly the way I thought it would play out. It was a very tough game for us, we knew that. They are a fantastic team. They’ve got top top players in their team and we knew it was going to be a test for us, but we managed to get our nose in front in the first half and I think we played very very well. Obviously, they fought back in the second half but we defended brilliantly. Tactically the boys were fantastic today against a very good team.”

Worries on any potential late fight back from Olimpia:

“I was worried on set plays because they are a big team. Part of the reason why I made certain substitutions at certain times was because I wanted to get certain players minutes and not get certain players minutes with Saturday in mind, but they seemed to be putting bigger players on and mine were smaller. I had to do that, adjust certain things and that. Credit to the boys for the way they defended. As I said, they are a top team.”

Thoughts on Kianz Froese:

“He played 45 minutes against Colorado last game and made a difference when he came on. He managed to do that [again today]. I did challenge him to be more proactive rather than reactive. I think he took that on board. It was a good shift for him today. He was one of a number of young players who got valuable minutes.”

Thoughts on potential injuries to Darren Mattocks and Deybi Flores:

“Darren’s got a very sore rib at the moment. Knowing Darren, you know he’d be okay. Deybi the same. Deybi got carried off. I thought it was a bad one but he says it was a kick as well so hopefully it’s not too serious because obviously we’ve got a good game on this weekend.”

Thoughts on Jordan Smith’s game:

“I thought he was excellent. One of Jordan’s key attributes is attacking and his deliveries into the box. I thought he was a strong and powerful boy as we all know. I thought he defended very well. In the second half they changed slightly since they needed to get a goal. He didn’t get caught inside. His pace and athleticism got him out. He should be pleased with his performance today.”

Thoughts on game management by both teams:

“Watching the Seattle-Olimpia game a few weeks ago, when they go ahead they manage the game very well. I think it’s fair for me to say that we didn’t want to give them that. If any team is going to come here and beat us, they’re going to have to earn it. The concentration levels have got to be spot on and they were today. Our play in the first half deserved a goal and we got our goal. Our game management was excellent. I’m sure it will be a great game down there.”

Thoughts on Whitecaps FC in this Champions League:

“I got asked earlier in the week about how seriously we’re taking this competition. In any competition we go in, as a club, we take it seriously. We’re involved in a number of competitions at the moment, all very important. There is a couple of ways of looking at it, and I’m sure if the result would have gone a different way today I’m sure I would have gotten criticized here. My player management was enough to get the result. Are we ready to go far in this competition? I felt no. There are obviously more experienced MLS teams with deeper squads. I haven’t gone as far. I don’t know. We really enjoy it. It’s a great occasion for the club to get a first victory in the Champions league. The guys and the club should be proud of themselves today. I hope there’s many more to come.”

Thoughts on future games:

“I’m focused on Saturday. My thoughts straightaway turns to Saturday’s game. We’ve got a massive game on the weekend. We’re in form at the moment. We’re confident. I look forward to the battle on the weekend.”

ROBERT EARNSHAW

Thoughts on the match:

“Difficult game, but I think overall we came through it. It’s a good experience. We have to give credit, they’re a team that made it difficult for us and they came to play. Number one, we had to get the win, and we did that, and I thought we had some good plays as well.”

Thoughts on getting a full 90 minutes:

“It felt nice, it felt good. I was worried what minute I was going to get a cramp, because I haven’t played in a little while. Luckily I got through it. I actually felt pretty good. It was enjoyable just to be out there, enjoyable just to have the touches on the ball, be around the guys and play. It never gets old.”

On a new experience playing in the CONCACAF Champions League:

“It’s a little bit closer to an international game. Sometimes we played different countries around Europe in different tournaments. It’s very much like that and it felt like that. I thought they were good, I thought they made it very difficult. A lot of energy, very physical, and that’s what we had to compete with. As long as we did that and made them pay with our quality, that was the end. Considering all of the changes, I thought we came out very good.”

Thoughts on the performance of Kianz Froese and his goal:

“I thought it was a big learning for him. I also asked him just after the goal, I said ‘explain to me how that’s gone in’. That’s the first thing I said. But you’ll take it. He was in the right place, right time, and credit to him. It was a good performance, good learning for him, because it was difficult. Sometimes you have to really take these games in and also consider that we’re going to play them again, and we have to understand what we have to do to win.”

PAOLO TORNAGHI

Thoughts on his play:

“The first half I didn’t have a lot to do, so I had to stay focused at the break because I knew that probably the second half could be much more intense for me. They came and they tried to score to tie the game. They pushed players forward, they put balls in the box so we had to handle those situations.”

Thoughts on the play of centre backs Kendall Waston and Diego Rodriguez:

“Kendall is great in the air, so I think for him there was not a lot of concern about it. Diego played a good game. I think it helped for him to play in a game with pressure with Kendall behind so they can talk in the same language, it’s more comfortable for him.”

Thoughts on the play of Kianz Froese:

“We made a great play on our goal. We know that Kianz is a player that can go behind and try to break with a ball on the ground, and he played a very good game.”

On getting a clean sheet in front of the home crowd:

“I was waiting for it. A big crowd, they always support me, especially as I not play as a starter. I feel every time, I heard them cheering for me, it’s great for me.”

On what David Ousted said to him before the game:

“To be confident. We train hard every day, and the game is just to bring what we do in training on the field.”

On the collision with Romell Quioto:

“It was a ball coming in the box. I went up to hold the ball. I think I hit him with my knee. I feel bad, I went to talk to Deybi Flores who is a Honduran player to send to [Quioto] my wish to him for a good recovery.”

KIANZ FROESE

On being more proactive:

“I think I need to continue to improve on that. Sometimes I get caught, but every day I’m working on it in training.”

On experience from playing with Canada against Central American teams:

“I wasn’t too sure how it would be. Obviously the [Central American] guys prepared us well and told us it would be a physical game. They were a tough team and it’s good for us moving forward for future knowledge.”

On his goal:

“I wasn’t too sure. I tried to get myself centrally and then I thought maybe Darren would shoot and then maybe if it got blocked I would be in there. It got stuck in his feet and I just kicked it. It went in, so.”

On having experience guys like Earnshaw, Laba, and Waston playing:

“It’s always great. Guys were obviously talking and moving us around so that we’re in good shape and they always want the best for us.”

On handling the late pressure from Olimpia:

“We have a lot of big guys at the back there. We got quite a bit of pressure, but they didn’t get through so we’re happy with it.”

On getting more first team minutes:

“Continue to train hard. I can be in the squad, I can be out of the squad, that’s up to Robbo. I just need to continue to work hard in training and better myself and the minutes will come.”

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Steve Pandher
Authored by: Steve Pandher

AFTN Soccer Show co-host and Senior Writer

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