Well it started off great. Those first 70 seconds were something to remember, then it all went a bit downhill after that.
Vancouver Whitecaps came out of the traps quickly at BC Place on Saturday evening and when Pedro Morales gave the league leaders a 1-0 lead just 70 seconds in against DC United, you were thinking that this was perhaps the statement game the ‘Caps were needing t make the rest of the league sit up and take some real notice of the team.
But it wasn’t to be. Indiscipline, some sloppy defending, and the inability to finish chances were to cost Vancouver dear as they fell to a 2-1 defeat and saw Matias Laba sent off in the first half for picking up two yellow cards.
We bring you our match report and postgame reaction from both dressing rooms, as the Whitecaps make it eight points dropped at home so far this season.
REPORT (by Steve Pandher):
A dream start for Vancouver Whitecaps turned into a nightmare as they played a man down for the second half and dropped a 2-1 result to D.C. United. A second half strike by Chris Rolfe would be the winner after a first half goal by Bobby Boswell for United cancelled out Pedro Morales’ effort for the Caps.
It didn’t take long for the Caps to open the scoring when Morales scored his first of the season in the second minute of the match. After taking a touch to control the cross made by Octavio Rivero, the captain found himself with acres of space as he simply lobbed the ball over Andrew Dykstra.
Unfortunately for Vancouver the advantage only lasted seven minutes as Bobby Boswell would convert a cross to draw the visitors even. The defender had remained up the pitch after a failed set piece when Michael Farfan sent a cross just outside the six yard area and Boswell was able to shake off Sam Adekugbe to head the ball inside the post.
Both teams had a couple more chances during the first half but the game turned in the 42nd minute when Matias Laba was sent off for receiving his second yellow of the match. After getting his first in the 34th minute for a handball, Laba made contact with a charging Fabian Espindola ending his night.
The first ten minutes of the second half saw D.C. take advantage of the extra man but their chances were thwarted by David Ousted. Within a minute the keeper was able to direct a shot by Espindola wide of the post and then made a better one off Rolfe as he stretched to stop the ball heading into the top corner of the net.
They were finally able to take advantage in the 64th minute when Rolfe scored his second in as many matches. He made the initial run and attempted to find Espindola inside the box but when Steven Beitashour made a diving tackle, the ball found its way to Rolfe who made no mistake to give the lead to the visitors.
The Whitecaps carried the majority of play after going down a goal but were unable to get any real chances. In fact the Caps were only able to muster one shot attempt on Travis Worra who came on as a second half sub making his MLS debut.
The Whitecaps will leave the confines of B.C. Place as they take to the road and visit Cascadian rivals Portland Timbers in their second meeting of the season.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 1 – 2 D.C. United
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa-Modou Kah, Sam Adekugbe; Russell Teibert (Kekuta Manneh 70), Matías Laba, Mauro Rosales (Christian Techera 76), Pedro Morales, Darren Mattocks (Gershon Koffie 46); Octavio Rivero [Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Harvey, Nicolas Mezquida, Robert Earnshaw]
D.C. Andrew Dykstra (Travis Worra 58), Sean Franklin, Bobby Boswell, Kofi Opare, Chris Korb; Nick DeLeon, Perry Kitchen, Michael Farfan, Chris Pontius (Conor Doyle 90); Fabian Espindola, Chris Rolfe (Luis Silva 76) [Substitutes not used: Jared Jeffrey, Jairo Arrieta]
Thoughts on the match:
“Disappointed with the result, I think with chances we had we could have, should have, maybe got something out of the game. Sometimes you don’t get things you deserve. And I think that’s what we got today.”
Did Matías Laba sending off affect game?:
“Yes, it did. The couple of minutes prior to the halftime we just gave ourselves a few more minutes. We wanted to be solid in the second half. I think we were. And able to counter them at certain times. And I think we did. Football’s fine lines. Rosales hits the post and it goes in and it’s a different game. I asked them to create chances and be solid at the back and they were. You know you’re going to give up chances when you’re playing against 11 men and we did. David pulled off some good saves but as I said, it wasn’t our day.”
On the multiple cautions:
“There’s things we can do about certain yellow cards. There’s other things I can’t do about certain yellow cards, unfortunately. I’ll talk to them in there, because we keep racking them up. And that’s not what I want, and that’s not what the players want. Pedro takes his shirt off and gets a yellow card. In the emotion of the game he’s delighted and happy and he shouldn’t do it. But he did do it. So all the yellow cards, that’s not for me to answer about.”
On their performance at home versus on the road:
“I think teams come here and play differently than what we do that on the road, when we go away and teams do that. There were questions on whether we could get an early goal against D.C. and we got that. But from that moment on we took our foot off the gas a little bit. We stopped showing what a good team we are, and maybe we thought we were a good team. You have to do the basics very well and credit to D.C. They’ve done the basics very well today.”
On the tactics of the game:
“Maybe if we didn’t create a chance or two chances, or seven or eight, then I’d certainly be a little more worried about it, but we did. We had some clear cut chances even with 10 men. Moments change games. As I said, it wasn’t our day today.”
Thoughts on Cristian Techera’s debut:
“Hopefully you’ll expect some more minutes from him. I think you see what he’s got. He likes to get into little pockets and areas where he can affect the final third and he did that. And hopefully he can bring some goals to the table.”
On attacking subs of both Kekuta Manneh and Cristian Techera being brought on:
“Might as well lose 3-1. And that’s what we did on the opening day of the season, we lost 3-1. I wanted to have a go. I firmly believed at halftime, we could go on to win the game and we would get our chances even at 1-1. And that’s what happened, unfortunately we didn’t take our chances. So yeah, it was trying to get back into the game.”
On Octavio Rivero possibly pressing too much:
“No, not at all. You want your players to express themselves and that’s what Octavio’s doing. I think he had a good chance in the second half. Or one or two half chances that he didn’t take. Players will be judged on goal, but what he brings to the table as well is very important. I’m proud of those guys in there in the second half. I thought with 10 men, we battled very very hard. And we had a very good performance, but we just couldn’t score.”
On penalties not being rewarded and if MLS says not to call as many penalties:
“I think that’s a great question. For me, I don’t know. I think you better ask someone that. A foul’s a foul. We talk about decisions in games. And yellow cards. And two yellow cards, you get a red card. Repetition of fouling. You’re supposed to get a caution. But sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Handball? Do you get a yellow card or not? I’m not sure. You’re asking the wrong guy.”
On the possible foul on Octavio Rivero:
“I haven’t seen it. I couldn’t see it. You get caught up in the emotion of the game. Every foul, you shout for. Ben Olsen is going the same, every foul he’s shouting for. I think you see that in the first tackle where Sam goes into Perry Kitchen. Until you see it, can’t comment. If I say it’s a blatant penalty and it’s not, I’ll look silly. If I say it’s not a penalty, and it is then, again I’ll pass judgement on that one if I can.”
Thoughts on the chances taken:
“We tried to. I think there’s a couple shouts blocked as well on the line and set pieces. I think we made wrong decisions. I said that to the group in there. We got a free kick in there in the last few minutes. Pedro decides to shoot from that angle, that’s difficult when we got our players forward. Wasn’t our day. Another day we’ll have to get back to work. Credit to Ben and D.C. they came here and got a result.”
Thoughts on the match:
“Extremely disappointed. I think it was an opportunity that didn’t work for us today.”
On performance at home this season:
“Us not being consistent for 90 minutes (led to that). I think we showed in bits today the kind of soccer we play at home but if we don’t do that for 90 minutes we are going to run into results like this.”
On his individual performance:
“Yeah I’m happy with the saves today but still we lost as a team today. I’m disappointed at the loss. I think we could have gotten more out of it and even with 10 men at the end we could have tied it up and got a point but it wasn’t to be.”
On stopping DC United’s chances in the second half:
“The first one we end up losing it and D.C. United got a run on it. Their player is fast and hit it heading into the corner and I get a hand to it and tip it over. The second one Rolfe gets into a good position and with a shot like his it’s a difficult one but I got to it.”
On a header chance in stoppage time:
“I was really close to that. I couldn’t get all the way up and it was unfortunate but we got a big chance on the back as well on it so sometimes I’ll go up there and try and wreak havoc and today we did that but didn’t get anything out of it.”
On Travis Worra’s performance:
“It’s always difficult. We’re 10 men and we want to put pressure on him but they did really well today. They delivered a professional performance keeping the ball and making us run. I think the young guy did well coming in and it’s difficult coming in with a game like that. They pressure on it, so kudos to him.”
On today’s outcome:
“We deserved a point, especially in the second half with 10 men. The work effort we put in there, the chances there at the end, we just needed to bury one of them. But not taking anything away from D.C. United, I thought they deserved it on a professional performance today.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It’s a difficult one when you have one player lost that is very important for the team in the middle, but I think we changed the attitude in the second half (to a) positive (one).
On his first goal:
“I think it’s a good goal but no help for the team.”
On Octavio Rivero possibly getting fouled:
“I don’t know, it’s difficult. In the field sometimes you look for a penalty, sometimes not, but it’s a decision for the referee.”
On the referee:
“I’m not talking for the referee.”
Thoughts on the match:
“We’re certainly happy with the three points. It’s not an easy trip to come out here and take anything away. Obviously, the red card helps. But I thought up to that point, we were in good form. I’m just happy for the guys to come out with the win.”
On in-game adjustments after the Matías Laba ejection:
“The tactics changed a little bit, but it’s still about moving the ball quickly and playing what’s there. That will eventually break them down and that will get you looks. We didn’t handle the ball real well in the second half. I think we should’ve dominated possession a little bit more if we had been better with our passing but I give them a lot of credit. They’re a very good team. I think Carl Robinson has done a great job with this group. Even down a man, you can tell that with their athleticism, team speed and some of their passing, they’re going to be one of the top teams in the league.”
On the importance of closing out matches well:
“It’s something we’ve talked about and addressed. When you get over that hurdle, it feels good. We weathered a lot of set pieces against one of the better set-piece teams in the league. I would’ve liked to do less of that, but it’s good to know that we have the ability to deal with that stuff when it comes our way.”
On Fabian Espindola’s season debut:
“I think he did great. For him to play the full 90 minutes, physically, is pretty impressive. He’s a very dangerous player. He didn’t get his looks on goal enough but once he gets in there and we get a rhythm with him, things will start clicking better. He’s always a danger and it was good to have him back tonight.”
On Chris Rolfe’s performance:
“He’s a classy player. His heart rate doesn’t get too high when he’s in front of goal. He’s pretty even keeled and a wonderful finisher. When he gets his chances, he does very well.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It was definitely a good match, it had good intensity. Obviously, Vancouver is first in the Western Conference so we knew it was going to be a challenge. They came out and played really well. We were able to neutralize their attack and got a couple of good goals. I thought the guys played a really good game and it’s not easy to come out here and get points but the guys managed to do that. I’m definitely proud of our performance.”
On playing against Octavio Rivero:
“He’s one of the strikers you rarely see in this league. He’s physical, he’s strong and he’s technical with the ball. What impressed me most about him was his movement off the ball and just knowing where to be. It definitely posed a challenge on one or more occasions. I think as a team, we did a really good job of neutralizing his effect.”
On Travis Worra’s debut:
“Obviously, it was Travis Worra’s first game. I think he did really well in his first MLS game. He’s been with us since the preseason and we know what kind of goalkeeper he is. Obviously, it’s hard to get minutes especially when you have Andrew Dykstra and Bill Hamid in front of you, but he’s more than capable of stepping in and getting the job done. We had confidence in him when he came in.”
On playing with a short bench:
“It’s our mentality coming in to every single game to be smart defensively and not to give the other team set pieces that will give them a chance to score on us. That’s ingrained in us, not just today but every day.”
On the importance of closing out matches well:
“Coming out here to Vancouver, we wanted to leave with at least a point. To come out with three points is definitely a great thing for us. Especially after giving up late goals in the last couple of games, it’s definitely great for our confidence to close a game out, especially against a good Vancouver team.”
On his MLS debut:
“At all times, you have to be prepared to play. All day today, I mentally prepared and watched tape. I acted like I was going to play. That’s what you have to do as a backup. When you’re called on, you can go in and make the saves and keep the ball out of the back of the net. That’s what I did and I felt confident. I felt nervous, I can’t lie, I was excited, but most importantly, I’m just happy to get the win for the team.”
On the importance of his USL experience:
“The games down there have already paid off. In my first game down there, I was very nervous. It’s USL, but that’s professional soccer. That’s the next level, something I dreamt of as a kid. Being able to get there was just another step forward. In three games there, I had two shutouts so I feel like I’m comfortable, at least, with this environment not. Making the step up here is another step forward but being down there definitely helped me more prepared for this.”
On working with the defenders:
“I think, personally, we have the best back-four in the league. We defend very well as a team. To have those guys in front of me helped me out the whole time. As soon as I ran out there in the field, Kofi Opare and Bobby Boswell both looked me in the eyes and very calmly said, ‘Relax, you will be fine.’ I think before Bobby even said that, he said ‘Congrats.’ I still had a game to play so I asked him to tell me what to do. There was a job at hand and I was there to get the job done and get three points.”