Despite facing an undermanned and much travelled team, Vancouver Whitecaps had to settle for a 2-2 draw against second year side Orlando City at BC Place on Saturday evening, in a barnstormer of a match.
After taking the lead then letting it slip, Canadian international striker Cyle Larin scored Orlando’s equaliser five minutes into the second half when he found himself free at the far post and headed in a cross from Kevin Molino, for what proved to surprisingly be the last goal of the match.
Julio Baptista had opened the scoring in the 14th minute, beating David Ousted through the wickets, with the aid of a slight deflection. Vancouver respondec with two goals in the final ten minutes of the first half to head in with the lead, but it was one that proved to be short lived.
The ‘Caps first came in the 35th minute when Nicolas Mezquida capitalised on a rebound in the box, after Joe Bendik saved a shot from Masato Kudo, and the Uruguayan headed the ball into an open net to tie things up.
Almost eight minutes later the ‘Caps would take the lead into the break when Pedro Morales sent a free kick into the box and Kudo found himself free to send a powerful header past Bendik.
Orlando had many opportunities to take the lead in the second half, bringing out a top quality reflex save from David Ousted in the 88th minute off a David Mateos header inside the six-yard area.
However, their best chance came an hour into the match as Baptista received a penalty after being fouled by Jordan Smith, but the Costa Rican received a reprieve as Baptista stepped up and skied the shot over the net.
While they have had a disappointing three game home stand, taking just five out of a possible nine points, Vancouver have now taken sole position of fifth place in the Western Conference.
It was an especially poor result when you take into account that Orlando was missing seven regular starters from their line-up and down to the bare bones.
The match also saw the MLS debut of recently signed homegrown product Alphonso Davies, who at fifteen years old did not look out of place in his 13 minutes of action.
The ‘Caps will now take to the road for the next four games, three of them in MLS, with the first coming in a week’s time facing the Houston Dynamo.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 Orlando City 2
ATT: 22,120 (sell out)
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jordan Smith, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Andrew Jacobson, Matías Laba (Cristian Techera 63); 7.Christian Bolaños, Nicolás Mezquida (Alphonso Davies 77), Pedro Morales; Masato Kudo (Erik Hurtado 83) [Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Cole Seiler, Ben McKendry, Marcel de Jong]
ORLANDO Joe Bendik; Kevin Alston, Seb Hines, David Mateos, Luke Boden; Darwin Ceren, Servando Carrasco; Hadji Barry (Antonio Nocerino 84), Julio Baptista (Cristian Higuita 79), Kevin Molino; Cyle Larin [Substitutes not used: Earl Edwards, Tyler Turner, Devron Garcia, Conor Donovan]
Please with a point or disappointed with tonight’s result?:
“No, I think we have to be happy to take a point because we didn’t play very well. We didn’t impose ourselves the way we did, or have done this season at times. When you don’t play well, I don’t think we played particularly well, I think it’s important to get something out of the game. So, we will take the point.”
On whether five points in the last three matches is enough to challenge in the Western Conference:
“You can critique a lot of things. Ideally, we wanted nine points. We didn’t get nine and after Saturday and Wednesday, we wanted seven. We’ll have to take five because sometimes it’s just one of those days. It seemed like one of those days for us today because simple passes went astray. We missed tackles, we defended poorly at times. Made mistakes in key areas of the field and at key moments, conceded goals. It’s just one of those days. Missed chances.”
On Alphonso Davies’ MLS debut:
“He was great. He brought a little bit of energy. As a coach, you sometimes have decisions to make. Three games in a week is hard. I think we saw that today in certain personnel, because they put a great amount of work in, but the athleticism, the dynamic side of it, sometimes isn’t there when you play consistently for 90 minutes, three times a week. It can be done, some players can do it. Jordan Harvey, great energy. Other players struggled a little bit. So, Alphonso coming in provided a great spark, obviously he was brought on to try and affect the attacking end of the pitch and he did that. But let’s not get carried away.”
On whether he’s frustrated they haven’t had consistency in their matches:
“I think every manager, every coach will tell you that they probably play brilliantly and dominate the games maybe five, six, maybe eight, if you’re lucky, times a year. When you have good spells, you have to put the ball in the back of the net. I thought we scored six goals this week in three games, which is great. When you don’t have good spells, for some reason things aren’t going your way, you have to defend, fight, scrap, kick and cut out mistakes and we haven’t done that well enough this year. Again, we didn’t do it well enough today.”
On Masato Kudo’s performance:
“Yes, great finish. He probably could have gotten a hat trick today. We dodged a chance [on Orlando’s missed penalty kick] and we went up the other end and we usually score then. He’s in the right area, it’s a great ball by Nico [Mezquida], who got his goal today. Pleased for him. Centre forwards and attacking players want to score goals. So, lots of positives, lots of stuff we need to work on and we need to cut out, but as I said, when you don’t play well and we didn’t play great today, it’s important you dig in and show character, and we did. We were behind and we didn’t lose the game.”
On his goal:
“I’m not big but I’ve scored three goals with my head. All the time, I try to be close to the goal in the box. I try to be there all the time. Today, it worked so I’ll try to keep it that way.”
On Alphonso Davies’ MLS debut:
“So good. So good. He’s young but tonight he played like a big boy. He has a lot to show because he’s a great player.”
On what to work on moving forward:
“We have to keep working on offence to score more. Today two scores were not enough. We need more so we have to work on that. We also need to work on defence too because if they don’t score, we win because we scored two. It wasn’t enough tonight.”
On his MLS debut:
“It was a great experience. As you know, it’s not my first time to play with the team. It was my first time in an MLS game against a good MLS opponent. They really showed that they’re a great team. It was a really good experience for me.”
On how he felt as he came on to the match:
“I was not nervous. It’s a game of football. Yes, they’re a good MLS team but there’s just a ball and you go out and play, have fun. I was really not nervous coming on the field.”
On playing against MLS competition:
“I definitely felt I’m being overpowered. They’re much stronger and bigger than me. Coming into the game at that time, the coach expects me to make a difference. I tried that but unfortunately it didn’t go in the net.”
On playing in front of his parents:
“It was really special for me because family is a big part of my life. I really look up to my parents to guide me. They treat me well, they give me good food to eat.”
On how his life has changed in the past few weeks:
“It has changed big time because now I want to go out and have fun with my friends, but now I also play on the MLS level and represent the club. I can’t go out and fool around and cause trouble.”
On feeling pressure:
“No pressure, I just go out there and play my game, do what I know.”
Thoughts on the match:
“I’m really proud of them, it’s been a long week, you know with the game last weekend and off to New York, and then straight here, the travel is difficult. I think what I saw for the first time in my three games in charge is the closest thing to a complete team performance that we’ve had. I’m disappointed in the moments, the first goal we had three chances to clear it and we didn’t. We wanted to play our way out of stuff and it cost us. If they were going to quit, they would have quit when they were down 2-1 and they didn’t, they came back and they did well. I’m really thrilled for them, because it’s been a long week and to come out of here with a point, two hours ago we would have snatched somebody’s hand off if they offered it to us, we’ll take it and move on to whatever’s next. ”
On Cyle Larin’s performance against Kendall Waston:
“It’s so important for Cyle to come back here, he’s so proud of representing Canada and being Canadian and I think anytime he gets a chance to come back here and play in front of his countrymen, and the national team plays here a lot, it’s an important moment for him. And I think sometimes you want to do so well that you end up suffering from it a little bit, and I think as the game went on he got better and better and you know it’s two big boys going at it, I wouldn’t want to get in the middle of them. And I’m just happy for Cyle that he got a goal, he stepped off the plane the other night and said the air is so much better here, you know just being Canadian and I’m happy for him.”
On the team’s progress:
“I think we’re getting there, so much of that stuff is just personal responsibility. You can put it up on the board, you can show it to them, but unless people are willing to do it, there’s not a lot I can do from that far away. And I think we’re getting to the point now where we’re tired of being sick and tired. We’re sick and tired of giving up these goals, what are you going to do about it? And I think you saw in the second half that it was much better. And so you know it’s frustrating, but the second half was better, except for Waston, there’s not a lot you can do when he finds the ball, then you’re in trouble. It’s certainly something we need to keep focusing on and keep showing it to them. The guy comes in and he’s seen videos of the guy he’s marking so that they know where they’re going, I don’t know what else I can do.”
On the fringe guys showing more passion than some recent performances:
“In New York we saw signs of it. They fought hard. Tonight, what we saw was a group that was in it together, which is what we’ve been preaching non stop for the last week. This was the most mature I’ve seen us in closing out a game, even though it felt like a basketball game – whoever got the ball last was going to win.”
Can this result and facing Columbus next week act as launching bad for second half of the season run?:
“I think it does. It proves to them that we can go into touch places and get results…. We keep talking about having a game in hand and just being close, but at some point you use up at that game in hand and you have to draw a line in the sand and start getting some results. Today was a good first step towards that.”
On tonight’s result:
“I’m really pleased with the way we started the game. Over the last three games, we haven’t really started well. I thought tonight we came out and we dictated the pace of the game and we got a goal early, we had a lot of energy, we were completing passes. We made a couple of mistakes and we let them back into it. I think we did well in tying things back up.”
On playing at BC Place:
“It always happens to be games like this. I really like the stadium here. Personally, the stats before the game showed that they’ve given up the most shots and we’ve given up the second-most. I knew coming in that it would be something like that.”
On the first goal given up to Nicolas Mezquida:
“The first goal was a miscommunication before the actual goal. We thought we wanted to play out off the free kick. We’ve gone long and they were a little bit spread out. They’ve countered us away. The ball bobbled off everybody. It was a little bit lucky that the save goes straight to his head.”
On scoring a goal in Canada:
“It felt good to score. I wanted to score really bad. My first score in this stadium was actually against Honduras but that was off my back. This was an actual goal. I think we played well tonight. I think we deserved to win. That was the best soccer we’ve played all season.”
On the result despite a shorthanded lineup:
“We made a couple of mistakes again but we came back in the second half and we did well. If we play like that for the rest of the season, we will make the playoffs. The guys that came in today played really well.”
On playing against Kendall Waston:
“Kendall is a very good player, a very strong player. He’s one of the strongest players I’ve played against. It was hard today but I kept fighting. I kept pushing myself to do better.”