Vancouver Whitecaps and lengthy breaks haven’t made happy bedfellows in MLS these past few seasons. Whenever the ‘Caps are off for an extended period of time, they seem to come back a bit sluggish and not firing on all cylinders. It’s often led to dropping points, sometimes all three.
That was the fear heading into Saturday afternoon’s game against New England Revolution at BC Place, and despite a less flat performance on their return to action, it was the same end result, with the Revs running out 2-1 winners.
Goals from London Woodberry and Kelyn Rowe did the damage, with a stunning free kick from Nicolas Mezquida sandwiched inbetween for the ‘Caps.
With three suspensions, a couple of injuries and players returning from the travels and travails of international duty, Carl Robinson’s starting line-up was pretty much as expected.
As Kendall Waston served the first of a two match ban, Andrew Jacobson continued in the centre back position, with Jordan Smith staying in at right back with Fraser Aird missing for personal reasons. Pedro Morales’ suspension gave Nicolas Mezquida the chance to stake a claim for a regular starting role if he could excel again in the number 10 role, and Blas Perez was rested after his Copa America exploits, allowing Erik Hurtado another start up front.
The Revolution have been struggling at times this season, with inconsistency their downfall, along with a defence that has been caught out on a few occasions. The Whitecaps looked to exploit that early with some runs, but apart from forcing a few corners, they didn’t threaten the visitors’ goal.
Both sides seemed in an attacking mood, with Vancouver enjoyed the better of the possession, but there were no real chances being created by either team.
Some nice hustle from Nicolas Mezquida started a move which the Uruguayan finished in the side netting in the 21st minute. New England responded with a Kelyn Rowe header that crashed of the ‘Caps left post.
New England were starting to look more of a threat as the half went on and they took the lead in the 31st minute when London Woodberry was allowed to ghost in unmarked to bullet home a header from a Lee Nguyen free kick.
As the cards started to fly, Vancouver got themselves back on level terms three minutes before the break when Mezquida curled home a free kick from the edge of the box. It was a beauty that beat former Whitecap keeper Brad Knighton all ends up.
The ‘Caps should have gone in to the half with the lead when Hurtado was played through but as Knighton came out to block the angle, the striker pulled his shot wide when he should have done much better.
Vancouver pressed at the start of the second half but it was New England that retook the lead ten minutes in when Rowe drilled a low shot past David Ousted from just inside the box, with the ‘Caps feeling aggrieved that a foul was not called for a challenge on Russell Teibert in the build up.
As the hour mark approached, Mezquida saw his touch from a Smith cross deflected past for a corner. Vancouver kept the pressure on but couldn’t make their chances pay.
The ‘Caps made a double substitution and brought on Bolanos and Perez, which immediately livened up their attack. As the home side pushed hard for another equaliser, Kekuta Manneh blasted high and over in the 70th minute after a great cutback from Hurtado.
Despite pushing that was to be the last real chance for the Whitecaps and a disappointing match came to a disappointing end.
Vancouver finished the game outshooting New England 17 to 8 and with 63.5% possession, but it counted for nothing in the end, and you have to give full credit to the Revolution for coming here three days after playing a 120 cup tie and coming away with the win.
The ‘Caps certainly missed their suspended players, and with some tough stretches of the season still to come, dropping points at home could prove to be very costly.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps New England Revolution
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jordan Smith (Marco Bustos 85), Andrew Jacobson, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matias Laba, Russell Teibert, Cristian Techera (Christian Bolanos 66), Nicolas Mezquida (Blas Perez 66), Kekuta Manneh; Erik Hurtado [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Cole Seiler, Ben McKendry]
NEW ENGLAND: Brad Knighton; Andrew Farrell, Jose Goncalves, London Woodberry, Chris Tierney; Daigo Kobayashi (Diego Fagundez 63), Scott Caldwell, Teal Bunbury (Je-Vaughn Watson 74), Lee Nguyen (Juan Aguedelo 90+1), Kelyn Rowe; Kai Kamara [Subs Not Used: Bobby Shuttleworth, Steve Neumann, Samba, Zachary Herivaux]
Thoughts on the match, and difference in finishing chances between two teams:
“The performance was excellent, I just said to the guys in there. The result is disappointing. I’ve got a disappointed bunch of players in there. I think we didn’t get what we deserved today. I think we deserved to win the game, but it’s what you do in both boxes.”
On Canadian Championship win helping increase intensity:
“I think so. I think the personnel as well. We had a number of players missing, and the guys who’d come in stepped up their levels. I thought we were excellent, but we lost.”
If there was a defensive breakdown on the second New England goal:
“I learned something today. Usually I sit up here and I talk to you guys and I get called dry, and you know, normal, which apparently is not a manager. But I today I learned something because I asked the linesman after the second goal, was it a foul on my player? Because I thought it was because Russell Teibert got taken down, and he said the new rules have come in. So if a player kicks the bottom of another player’s foot, that’s not a foul. I said ‘okay, I learned something’. A minute later, the same happened. We must have gone back to the old rules. So I learned something today, it was great. But I’m disappointed with the result.”
On the team conceding the second goal:
“Listen, we shouldn’t concede that second goal but it’s a foul. From that moment on when the referee did not give the foul, we need to be better. Without a doubt we do. So that’s what’s cost us at the end. We give away a set piece in the first half. A goal, a disappointing one, centre forward in the box or a defender in the box against three, so we need to tidy up in both boxes to be honest.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It’s been the same story as we found all year long, we need to be more clinical in the final third. And if we want to be a top team, be at the top of the league, we need to start being more clinical in the final third beause we’ve been creating chances, and that’s a positive, but we need to start scoring goals and finishing off the play.”
On no foul call on their winning goal:
“I think people could see it on the replay. You know the boss tells us in the speech after the game and he can’t explain the call to us. I want to watch it again after the game and see exactly what happened, but it felt like a foul. And if he’s not going to call that one, two minutes later he calls a foul on us for the exact same foul. I think you’ve just got to have consistency throughout and I’ve got to see it again.”
On the game Tuesday against Toronto in the Amway Canadian Championship final:
“It’s a cup match and we have this trophy and we remember all the great feelings that we had that came with winning. We want to replicate that this year. We take pride in being Canadian champions and we want to be Canadian champions again this year.
On controlling emotions and getting cards:
“I think we were better at controlling our emotions. I think at the same time it was good for us to walk away out of that game with one or two cards. In terms of what Rusty said I think we just want consistency and the ability to know the ref is going to, if the call goes against us, we want the call next time. I think this situation shows that perfectly, that in our eyes that was a foul and they got a scoring chance and then two minutes later there’s a foul in that situation again and we don’t get the call.”
On away goals in the first leg of the Amway Canadian Championship in Toronto on Tuesday:
“I think going into Toronto it’s going to be important for us. Like you said, either get an away goal or just keep the game as close as we can. I think last time we went to Toronto, things got a little bit out of hand and obviously we don’t want that to happen again. So I think in order for us to keep this cup and do the right things on the road this time we have to be a little bit more disciplined and make sure our focus is there for the full 90 minutes.”
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
Thoughts on the match:
“Really proud of our guys, it was tough. Playing 120 minutes on Wednesday, guys like Jose and London, Scotty, they all played 90 plus the 120. So really proud of what they were able to do. Hey look, we played against a really good Vancouver team. They were dangerous, organized. We knew we had to take them, weather the storm a little bit and I thought we did a great job of that.”
Thoughts on Kelyn Rowe scoring match winner:
“Well Kelyn, he was one of the guys we needed to get off the field in the Open Cup because we wanted to have him fresh for tonight, because he brings that type of performance. He puts in the work defensively, but able to score a great goal. I thought he was unfortunate, like you said, on the cross bar. But Kelyn, what we love about Kelyn is that he puts it on both sides of the ball. There is never a game where you can say someone outworked Kelyn.”
Thoughts on Brad Knighton and his most recent performances:
“Well, I think certainly [he could be considered as a starting goalkeeper]. What we were hoping for was a lift from Brad. We knew he was always going to get that Open Cup game. He really rose to that occasion again tonight. We’ll go back and look but [we] really like what we see from him, yes.”
Thoughts on the last three matches compared to the beginning of the season:
“It did coincide with the signing of Kei, the trade for Kei. So that definitely gave us a lift, a lift and really good soccer player. And even though he hasn’t scored yet, he’s really dangerous and I think he’s occupying so much attention that guys like Kelyn, was able to find the ball at the top of the box because when we looked at the replay and two guys are covering Kei, so there’s a little more space for the guys around him. So, that’s been one thing. To be honest with you, I think early in the year …I didn’t think we were playing poorly, I felt that we just weren’t getting results. We were a little naïve in certain situations. So, now I want to continue to put together 90 minute performances. We were putting together 70, 60 minute performances and losing on a bad play. Now we’re putting together 90 minutes and I think that’s been the most important thing over the last four games.”
Thoughts on London Woodberry’s performance:
“London, for me, I was really proud of his willingness to fight, his willingness to lay it all out there. The other night was unfortunate, we didn’t want him to go the 120. He was one of the guys that we couldn’t get out of the handcuff because of subs. And he came in tonight and was excellent, didn’t make a wrong step. Thought he was really good all the way around and the goal, he just wanted it more and he got it.”
On starting to turn their season around:
“Like I said, I didn’t think we were playing poorly, we weren’t losing games, and we were giving away points. Up a goal and giving up a tie, something like that. I think that and I’ve always said this, when you can put together ties, if they’re good ties and you follow up with a win on the road, you really put yourself in position. I think that there are expectations, we want to be battling [for] the Eastern conference top. I feel like that’s an expectation from the beginning of the year. We have a core group of guys who have been together. Our expectations are to continue to push, to push the Eastern Conference and to be at the top of that the best we can.”
On scoring the match winning goal:
“It was good. I think it was a good team goal for us. I think Daigo won the ball, and then Teal got his head up and played a good ball in, and all I had to do was put in the back of the net.”
On if he was surprised that he was open:
“You know it was one of those that if you peel at the top of the box a lot of the times defenders will drop into that dangerous six zone, so I tried to find open space and Teal found me with a good ball.”
On the first road win of the season after a tough Wednesday match in the U.S. Open Cup:
“It was tough. Wednesday was hot in North Carolina. It was a long one, we had the delay. A lot of guys played a lot of minutes, and then the flight over. So this is definitely a great result for us. One it’s on the road, and two it’s a good opponent in Vancouver. We’re glad that we get away with three points and we get to go home for a little bit, and then off to DC.”
On digging deep in final 15 minutes to hold on to the result:
“I think credit to Vancouver. They were putting on a lot of pressure on us the last 10 to 15 minutes. You know on the road it’s something you’ve got to do. You’ve got to kind of bunker down and it’s all about working hard and finding that result. I think we did very well, credit Brad in goal and our back line and Scotty Caldwell and Je-Vaughn when he came in that middle, he really clogged it up. It’s a lot of fight that last 10 to 15 minutes and we did it.”
Thoughts on the result after playing 120 minutes on Wednesday in the U.S. Open Cup:
“We rolled our sleeves up , did what we had to do and got the result. It’s a massive win for us on the road. We knew it was going to be a tough week for us playing two games on the road, but everyone believed that we could do it and we pulled out the result here as well.”
On holding on at the end:
“We kept our shape. We were in good spots and we knew they were going to have trouble breaking us down. Like you said, tired legs playing 120 [minutes] on Wednesday and then having to come here, fly across North America and come play here. And it’s a very tough place to play here. The guys did a fantastic job in front of me, and it’s a great result for us.”
On added motivation playing his former team:
“You know anytime being able to back to Vancouver is something special, so very fortunate and grateful for the opportunity. I’m just glad to have this team in winning ways right now. We’ve won three in a row right now, so we’re going to keep this thing going and hopefully more to come.”