A wild night at BMO field saw a ten man Vancouver Whitecaps side pick up their first win in Toronto on league business, while extending their winning streak to three, with a 4-3 victory helped by a Kekuta Manneh brace.
Vancouver held two goal leads twice in the game in a rollercoaster of emotions. With Christian Bolanos and Pedro Morales also finding the net, it was one of the Whitecaps best ever wins in Major League Soccer. For a team playing their third game in a week, shorthanded through injury and suspension, and after travelling thousands of mile on two days rest, it was a game for the ages.
Starting in a central role for the first time this season Manneh used his pace early on as he intercepted an errant pass from Damien Perquis and then outran the other defenders to beat Clint Irwin and give the ‘Caps an early lead, 12 minutes in.
Six minutes later and Manneh was sent in once again, this time from a wonderful Erik Hurtado pass. While the speedster was stopped by the ‘keeper, Christian Bolanos was there to follow up on the rebound and double Vancouver’s lead.
David Ousted was standing tall in the Vancouver net, keeping out Sebastian Giovinco’s low shot across goal, and Toronto squandered a couple of other good opportunities, blasting high and over.
Toronto thought they had a lifeline when Russell Teibert was adjudged to have fouled a flopping Jozy Altidore. The American picked himself up and saw Ousted produced a brilliant save to deny his spot kick, with the striker injuring his hamstring in the process.
TFC finally got on the board in the 38th minute when Giovinco took an over the top ball, spin from the defenders and then beat the Dane.
That was how the teams went in at the half but just over twenty minutes after the restart TFC levelled the score when Michael Bradley slipped the ball to Giovinco behind the backline, giving the Italian international a brace for the night.
Game well and truly on.
The Whitecaps responded less than four minutes later, in the 70th minute, when Manneh took a ball in the wide area, came inside, before cutting back into the box, leaving Toronto defenders all ends up and beating Irwin for his second of the night.
Just two minutes later and the ‘Caps doubled their lead once again. This time is was Captain Morales who took a pass from Manneh into the box, perfectly placing the ball over the outstretched hands of Irwin and just inside the right post. 4-2 Vancouver, but there was still a lot of action and drama to come.
The ‘Caps were reduced to ten men when Fraser Aird received his second yellow in the 76th minute and TFC took advantage four minutes later when Drew Moor converted a header from a Giovinco corner.
The remaining ten minutes, plus five minutes of injury time, were nervy for Vancouver but they clung on to their one goal lead surviving wave after wave of TFC attacks to make it three straight wins for the ‘Caps.
With the three points Vancouver has climbed into third place in the Western Conference, and overall MLS, standing at the end of the night, with 20 points out of 13 games.
When you consider some of the hand-wringing that was taking place not that many weeks ago, it’s been a remarkable turnaround and shows once again was a good, and bad, run of form can do for a team’s position.
While their defensive record has suffered recently, the ‘Caps have found their scoring touch with their highest output of the season and have potted 10 of their 20 goals this year in the last four matches.
Vancouver will remain on the road next week, but return to the West Coast where they will take on their Cascadian rivals Portland Timbers once again, looking to make it four straight wins, and nine out of nine points in the Cascadia Cup standings. It’s also the last place Vancouver won 4-3 on the road before this game.
It’s been quite the week in Whitecapsland.
FINAL SCORE: Toronto FC 3 – 4 Vancouver Whitecaps
TORONTO: Clint Irwin; Steven Beitashour, Damien Perquis (Daniel Lovitz 78), Drew Moor, Justin Morrow; Jonathan Osorio (Jay Chapman 80), Michael Bradley, Tsubasa Endoh, Will Johnson; Jozy Altidore (Mo Babouli 38), Sebastian Giovinco [Substitutes not used: Quillan Roberts, Ashtone Morgan, Eriq Zavaleta, Josh Williams]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Fraser Aird, Tim Parker, Pa-Modou Kah, Jordan Harvey; Christian Bolaños, Matías Laba, Russell Teibert, Pedro Morales (Andrew Jacobson 89); 19.Erik Hurtado (Blas Pérez 85), Kekuta Manneh (Jordan Smith 78) [Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Sam Adekugbe, Nicolás Mezquida, Cristian Techera]
Carl a mid-week game, travel, lots of injuries, and yet you guys are able to walk away with three points. Are you proud to say the least?
“Very proud, a lot of character shown, a difficult place to come. I know that more than anyone. Second home game of the season. They deserve all the credit in the world, that group in there today because everything was against us, we know that. But we weren’t going to use it as an excuse, and I said in the lead up to the game that let’s talk about the guys that are here rather than the guys that are missing because I was missing a number of guys but it’s about ninety minutes or ninety six minutes they put up today and if you get a bit of luck, you need to do that especially away from home. I think we got what we deserved, Greg will disagree maybe and hes right to do that but if you put in the work you get the rewards and today we put the work in.”
You had Russell Teibert heavily involved tonight, is he back to full strength?
“He is. He’s missed the majority of the pre-season for me, so it means a lot to Russ this game. I know that coming home here he wanted forty odd tickets for his family and probably could have got more but I knew it would be a great occasion as well as Fraser Aird. I wanted to put the young Canadian in and he showed today how good he can be. Now it’s about performing on a consistent basis, on a daily basis. But if he performs like that he’s going to give me a few headaches which is good.”
Did you have a specific plan on how to stop or contain Sebastian Giovinco?
“I did. I’m not going to tell you how or why. It worked out very well but he still scored two goals. So you could say to me that it didn’t work very well. He is arguably.. we know he is the best player league and every goal has come through him and we tried to limit his space and chances. We did it to an extent but he still got two goals. I won’t give too much away in case we end up meeting in the cup.”
You stated that everything was against you coming into the game, could you explain that?
“Everything in the lead up to the game. As I said the travel. We played three games in a week. We played against a sloppy defence. Toronto are a good team and they got very good players. They have experience along the back line, they’ve not given up many goals this year. They play a certain way and that’s credit to Greg and Toronto. I thought we could exploit them by tactically slightly adjusting the formation which I did today with the personnel involved. And I went a different way and it worked, we were up two nil at the time catching them on counters and then we let them back in the game. They probably deserved to get back into the game. Everything against us was the three games in a week and the travel.”
You’ve won three straight and this game the team showed a lot of character in the way they hung on to the win, can you see this week as a turning point or a step in the right direction?
“I hope so. The league is very funny. You can go through three, four, five games without getting a result and everyone says you’re in a crisis. Or you can win three games in a week and suddenly people predict you to go win the MLS. That’s how crazy it is and way off it is. What we’ve done is get similar points to what we had last year. We had a tough start. We need to be better in certain areas. We’ve given away too many goals for my liking. We give three goals away again today. We’ve done it three times I think and four goals in DC. I don’t like that. It’s great for the fans watching a four three game. I don’t like that, I prefer to win one nil. We need to be more consistent. They are a good group and they enjoy coming to work every day and I enjoy making them better. I’m putting demands on them, no player is different whether you’re the captain Pedro Morales or you are a young Kekuta Manneh. I put demands on them to make them better because if I don’t do that I wouldn’t be doing my job.”
Thoughts on the game
“It was a crazy one. We got away with a 4-3 win. I thought we played smart football, I thought we scored four really good goals. We were up against an offence that is amazing, Giovinco is one-of-a-kind and he showed that today.”
On TFCs attack
“They kept coming. And you know that guys like Giovinco and Bradley that is pushing them, they were going to get chances and we knew that. We needed to be aware in the back but also go get another goal. We did well today, we had five shots on target and four of them were goals so well done to the guys out there.”
On the play of Eric Hurtado
“Eric showed tonight that he belongs on that pitch. He has been a model professional; he’s worked hard, he’s come in everyday to training and now he gets his shot. Tonight he played fantastic and I’m really happy for him.”
Thoughts on the game
“It’s a great win on the road. I think that’s the biggest thing just to pick up three points. What an unbelievable week this week, but we can’t stop now, we have to carry that forward to next week. We are going to continually to have tough games and obviously there were some mistakes, some things we could have done better but the most important thing is that we got the three points on the road.”
What’s the atmosphere like for an all Canadian game?
“It’s fantastic. It’s always a rivalry match when we play against Toronto whether it’s home or away. They have fantastic support and you see the numbers that we have that come to support us from across the country. For me it’s special because I get to play in front of my family and friends. I think it will always be special.”
Where do you rank this match against TFC?
“This is up there. When the score was 4-2 I was thinking the home opener at Empire and I was kind of hoping that we would keep the score at 4-2 and then they get another goal and it’s 4-3. I was hoping they weren’t going to get another one so I was really happy with the 4-3 result. Like I said, we could have done things better and we’ll look to improve on those things but most important is that we got the result here.”
What are your thoughts on the game?
“Clearly our start to the game was pathetic. Lack of concentration, giveaways, carelessness. We dug a hole for ourselves. After we dug a hole for ourselves with it being 2-0 we started to play with more urgency, closing players down more, dictate the match a little bit. On the defensive side there was carelessness, we allowed guys to carry the ball inside of us.”
“He came out right after the PK, as he was approaching the takeoff on the kick he could feel it a little bit.”
An eventful game to say the least where do you start?
“At the start we seemed to have regressed to the way we were playing last year, when we need to have more than three goals to win. We can’t make mistakes like this. The goals were easy, we hope to at one point get away from this.”
Is there any one thing you can pinpoint that lead to the slow start?
“No we are team, when we make mistakes, it’s all of us. Either that who are too slow to pass the ball, it reflects on all of us.”
Was this a one game blip?
“I hope it was just the one game, luckily we have one game on Wednesday and we’ll see if it was just the one game or if it will continue like this.”
And the mood of the team?
“It is too early to make conclusions. Tomorrow we will have a more open mind for this.”
Just talk about the team’s performance overall. Good moments, bad moments. How do you encapsulate it?
“It’s disappointing, I think just the way we started the game. We dug ourselves a hole. We just weren’t sharp, our passes weren’t good, and defensively we weren’t organized enough. I think we gave Vancouver a little bit of belief. Even before they scored their first goal, just by not being sharp enough. We you give a team like that belief and then they get two goals; they think they can win the game. We crawled out of the hole and dug ourselves out and somehow fell back behind. So it’s disappointing and it’s a learning experience and sometimes you have to get punched in the face. We are not as good as we may have believed we were.”
The storyline of the season has been the sturdiness of the backline, defensively how well this team has done, was it a matter of simply overlooking the opponent or was their more to that?
“I just think it was not being sharp enough, mentally not being all there and not being on the same page. Their goals were, a couple of them nice finishes, there was just poor defending, poor team defending. We got stretched out a little bit, we gave the ball away in some bad areas. But just the overall sharpness. Again, we are a very good team but we still need to start games better and put teams on their heels. We can’t just think we are home now and it’s just going to happen for us. We still have to go after teams and even play sometimes like we are back on the road, like we did very solid, very organized, and i think tonight was just a matter of not starting the game well enough and taking too long to get into it.”