Vancouver Whitecaps and the summer months haven’t been happy bedfellows downs the years. Last season had signs that the dreaded summer slump may have been broken, with a few good results ground out in July and August.
This year, July hasn’t been all that favourable to the ‘Caps and as they head out on a three game road stretch in the league, and with a Champions League trip to Trinidad thrown into the mix as well, the Whitecaps would clearly have seen a trip to Houston as their most likely source of points in the coming weeks.
Likely in terms of club form, as opposed to the venue, for the Whitecaps had yet to win any MLS game in Texas and hadn’t taken even a point before in either Houston or Dallas heading in to this one.
They leave Houston with a first ever point from a game in Texas, after a 0-0 draw in very testing conditions. David Ousted came up with some huge saves, including a save of the week contender in the dying seconds, but Vancouver will feel aggrieved when Erik Hurtado saw his “goal” disallowed for a harsh handball call six minutes from the end.
The Whitecaps starting line-up was basically as expected for the third meeting between the two sides this season, but Carl Robinson did spring one surprise, with Cole Seiler coming in at right back for Jordan Smith. It was a first MLS start for the first round draft pick, in a position he hasn’t played too much of in his footballing career so far.
Houston clearly felt that was the weakest side of the field to attack and they launched a few early forays forward up their left wing, causing a few scrambles in Vancouver’s defence.
Andrew Wenger had a great chance to put the home side up as early as the 8th minute after the Dynamo capitalised on a sloppy ‘Caps giveaway, but he blasted wildly over after being played in by Will Bruin.
Masato Kudo had the first shot on goal for Vancouver two minutes later, but it was easily saved by Joe Willis at his near post.
The pace of the game in the heat wasn’t exactly urgent. Understandable with it feeling near 40 degrees out there. Both sides had some half chances without really troubling either goal for a long spell.
Pedro Morales forced a save from Willis with a low shot with six minutes of the half remaining, before Houston really turned up the pressure towards the end of the first half, with Alex firing into the side netting and David Ousted having to make a brilliant acrobatic save to deny Bruin.
But the ‘Caps defence held firm, not something we’ve said a lot of this season, and the teams headed in at the half scoreless.
Vancouver started the second half the livelier and Nicolas Mezquida flashed a header narrowly wide three minutes in.
Houston responded with another chance for Bruin, but he blasted over from the edge of the box.
Sheanon Williams got his head on a Bruin cross in the 55th minute, forcing Ousted into another save as Houston pushed.
The ‘Caps were trying to conserve energy, slowing the game down when they could and looking to hit on the break. Morales had a long range shot on the hour mark from one such break but Willis easily held on to the ball.
Both teams made some offensive changes and Houston’s nearly paid off when Cristian Maidana sent a dangerous ball across goal but with no takers.
Houston came the closest yet in the 71st minute when Boniek Garcia crashed a curler off the left post after some great build up from the home side.
One of Vancouver’s subs, Erik Hurtado, had the ball in the net in the 84th minute but it was quickly called back for handball, after a rare great finish from the striker. He also picked up a booking for his efforts. Both of which looked to be really harsh upon replay.
Carl Robinson told TSN radio after the game that the linesman told him that he “thinks” Hurtado handled the ball. Robbo’s takes was – “he better be sure”.
Another Erick, Houston’s Torres, had Vancouver hearts fluttering in the last minute of normal time, hitting a fierce strike into the side netting.
With the game heading into dreaded late stoppage time for the ‘Caps, the Dynamo had a strong shout for handball in the box go unheard, before the home side nearly won it at the death when David Horst got his head onto a Abdoulie Mansally cross, forcing a save of the week candidate from Ousted, as the Dane tipped the ball over to keep the teams level and secure Vancouver’s first ever point in Texas.
I’d have taken a point heading in to this game and would have gladly have accepted it at most stages of the match. There’s definitely a feeling coming out of the match though that the ‘Caps could definitely have got more from it.
With trips coming up to Dallas and Colorado in the next two league matches, it’s hard to see Vancouver getting anything from those matches and in an ever tightening Western Conference, that could leave Vancouver playing catch up and out of the playoff positions by the time they head back to BC Place next month.
FINAL SCORE: Houston Dynamo 0 – 0 Vancouver Whitecaps
HOUSTON: Joe Willis; Sheanon Williams, David Horst, Raul Rodríguez (Abdoulie Mansally 13), Jalil Anibaba; Andrew Wenger (Cristian Maidana 67), Alex, Collen Warner (Giles Barnes 80), Boniek García; Erick Torres, Will Bruin [Subs Not Used: Calle Brown, Ricardo Clark, Mauro Manotas]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Cole Seiler, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Andrew Jacobson, Matias Laba; Christian Bolaños, Nicolas Mezquida (Blaz Pérez 67), Pedro Morales (Cristian Techera 85); Masato Kudo (Erik Hurtado 74) [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Jordan Smith, Fraser Aird, Marcel de Jong]
On the game:
“The game is about scoring goals. I think both teams today showed a lot of effort, determination, but lacked a little bit of quality in the final third. I’m proud of the effort of the guys today, I really am. First point we’ve managed to get in Texas in five years since the club has come into Major League Soccer. A little bit of a pat on the back for those guys in there. They deserved it. It’s a difficult place to play. It’s hot, the grass is different, but it was a good game. I think both teams could’ve won it. One point in the end for both teams.”
On David Ousted’s performance:
“Houston are in a position where they need to win games, and we want to win games as well, but a point on the road is not a bad result for us. They were putting more and more numbers, taking defenders off, and putting forwards on. We had to weather the storm. We haven’t been great defending at times this year. Coming away here organized is not a bad result for us.”
“David has been a lot better than this. Which you can break it down in a number of ways, and say, ‘We allowed too many shots.’ But that comes from the forward players. You attack from the back, and you defend from the front. Today was a collective effort. David’s got a few highlight reels. He kept the ball out of the net, and he did it very well.”
On Cole Seiler’s MLS debut:
“He showed a very mature performance today, and I’m pleased for him because all the guys love him in the locker room. He doesn’t complain. He’s never in my office asking why he’s not playing. He’s a young player we picked up from the draft. He just got on with the business. He’s got a great mentality. Mentality in football is 90 percent of the job, believe me, and I think he was composed. Yeah, he made mistakes, but I’ll tell you the best players on the field today made mistakes. It was an enjoyable performance, and I’m delighted for him, and the guys are as well. He’s absolutely shattered in there, he can hardly talk, which shows how much effort he put in the game. He should be pleased. His family should be very pleased of him today.”
Positives from the game:
“Well we’ll take a point. There’s a lot of good individual performances and it’s something you build on. The league is very streaky, and when you’re on a run, you win three or four games in a row. If you manage to do that, then it can put you up to the top two or three positions. You lose two or three games, which happens quite regularly to most teams, you’re first, you’re second from bottom, third from bottom. It’s a good point for us. It’s something we’ll build on. We
drew our last game, so we’ll pick up another point. When you don’t play brilliant it’s important you take something out of the game, and I though we tried. We worked our socks off today, but we lacked a little bit of quality. It takes quality to score goals.”
Overall thoughts on the game and the intense heat:
“I think it was a good game for us. I think we got back to defending very well and got organized. We gave up limited chances and we defended our box very well, but I think it’s important that we walked out of here with a point. It’s (the heat) hard for us to play in but both teams have to deal with it so we were ready for that problem coming in, but I felt that the boys handled it pretty well tonight.”
Thoughts on David Ousted’s near-post save in the first half:
“That’s what we rely on Dave (Ousted) for. In my eyes he’s the best goalie in the league and those are the kind of saves that he makes and that’s what we have him for.”
Overall thoughts on the game:
“First and foremost, the coach told us it’s the first time we have ever picked up a point in the state of Texas, so that’s always nice. As a defensemen I was glad that we were able to keep a clean sheet as well.”
On his MLS Debut and any nerves he may have experienced:
“There were definitely some nerves coming into the game. It’s weird because usually you’re waiting for a good pass to unsettle your nerves but mine was more of a huge mistake and they almost scored, but once they didn’t score it was a huge relief.”
On the intense heat:
“I’m from the southeast but I haven’t played there in quite a while. It’s difficult to emulate what you guys have here back in Vancouver, especially the humidity.”
On how the team can take from this:
“Another hard fought game. Again, I thought we had some really good looks at goal. (David) Ousted seems to be able to pull some saves that are a little bit beyond belief at times. Boniek (García) hit the post in the second half. I think luck was a little bit against us. It seemed as if there was a pretty good, clear hand ball at the end there. But again, I know those things happen, it just didn’t kind of go in our favor tonight. We were right there. I’m proud of the shutout; I think that’s a tough thing to do. But at the same time it’s just disappointing. We have some points that we’ve just left on the table here. So I changed things up tonight, we were in a different formation. I think the idea was really good. I do think we created some good things. I think with a little more work on it, I think we’ll do it a little bit better. But we still created some good looks. We had some good play between the forwards. At the end, again I thought (Cristian) Chaco (Maidana) did a good job, brought good energy to the game. I think he always adds something when he comes on because he looks to get on the ball, he can pick a good pass. Brought Giles (Barnes) on at the end too. Collen (Warner) I thought actually had a really good game, but I was just trying to throw on one more offensive piece. It’s always tough when you make a sub in the first half with a defender. You always kind of want that extra one in the second half, where we maybe could have done something different, but that’s just how it’s going for us right now. All the same, it was a hard fought game. I think the team every single time they step on the field fights from minute one to minute 90, and I’m proud of that. I think the group has shown a lot of heart. There was some disappointment from the game on Wednesday, but I think the guys came out with a positive attitude, and it just didn’t work for us tonight. I’m still proud of the effort, and like I said I’m still happy with a zero (shutout).”
On if there is anything in particular the team can work on to help their recent scoring issues:
“You got to keep working at it. There’s no easy answer to it. Teams go through periods like this. There are other teams in the league that have gone through the same thing, where they’re having a hard time scoring. We just kind of can’t seem to find the back of the net. But again, Will (Bruin) makes a great near post run. Makes a great chance on the ball and Ousted pulls it out of the top corner. Boniek makes a great run across. Great shot! Goes off the inside of the post and comes back out. It just kind of seems like a couple things aren’t going our way. We had a couple good looks from the top of the box that we put off target. Will had a great chance with his right foot. We’re just a little bit off on the set pieces. Especially even when Chaco (Maidana) came in, he serves in a really, really dangerous ball. So we maybe have missed a couple chances there, but there’s no magic pill. Believe me, if there were then we’d have an order of them in already. We’ll just keep working at it.”
On tonight’s change to a 4-4-2 formation:
“We had a really quick turnaround, so we prepared for the Dallas [U.S. Open Cup] game, I wasn’t quite ready to roll that out for the Dallas game and you know, you don’t have a full group to train on Thursday. We couldn’t really do much on Friday, either, so we didn’t really have much time to talk about how we wanted it to work. But there was an experienced group out there and I thought through talking about it and showing them some stuff in the locker room and on video, even going through it on the board; getting the point across about how we wanted things to work. Give us another week, time to work on it and it’s something that you might see the next time out. But we’ll evaluate it, try to regroup, and just make sure we have a good game plan for the game that’s next weekend against San Jose.”
Was there any indication that Dynamo defender Raúl Rodríguez had been previously nursing tonight’s injury?:
“No, there was no indication that there was anything wrong. I still haven’t gotten a full report; I’m hoping that it’s not anything that’s too serious, but obviously it was something that he couldn’t play through today. So I’m hoping for the best there.”
On Dynamo’s Erick “Cubo” Torres’s performance, his first start under Barrett:
“I’ve said this before, since I’ve taken over, Erick has mostly been away from the team. He was with Mexico for a long camp and then over the last two weeks they had camps earlier in the week that he’s been away for, so it’s been difficult to get him around the group for an extended period of time, but he’s done really well when he’s gone away with Mexico. I’ve watched some video of the games that he’s played when he’s been gone. I just thought this was a good game for it. Like I said, we had a game on Wednesday that took a lot out of the guys, so I’m working with a fresh group out there and Erick and Will, even in the limited numbers that we had at training on Thursday and Friday, they looked really good together. They understand how to play with another four, but even if we haven’t done that in a long time, they both understand that and made some good connections that were there. So like I said, if we have a little bit more time, we’ll be able to refine some of those things and get better. But given the short turnaround time and the preparation, I thought they combined pretty well at times. And you saw it when we played them down the channel, or when they had good combination play, we were a good team.”
The state of the defense with injuries and what does it mean to have the others keep the shutout?:
“Yeah, it’s a credit to the group. And Jalil (Anibaba) – I don’t think he’s played a minute at center back (this season), although he’s capable of it. I thought he did a really good job. Abdoulie (Mansally) came in and he defended very, very well, and he had a couple of really good services into the box. So yeah, it’s a testament to the fact that the guys are really paying attention to what’s happening in training that even though Jalil hasn’t played center back, he went in and it seemed liked a seamless transition. The same with Abdoulie coming in. And that gives them and gives us a lot of confidence.”
On the team’s four-game scoreless streak:
“Obviously it sucks, I mean, I feel like every year I’ve been here, we’ve gone through stretches like this. I think every team does, and obviously there’s no secret recipe to get out of it, you have to just keep grinding, once we get that first one everyone will get the feeling of it again and we’ll be right back on track.”
On playing with another forward:
“It’s definitely much better, I think. That’s the first or second time that we’ve played together since he (Cubo Torres) has been here, and I think you can see the chemistry there already in that one game, and if it’s something we work on it’ll only get better.”
Overall thoughts on the game:
“I thought we were more dynamic, but (David) Ousted made some great saves, Boni (Boniek Garcia) hits the post and it rolls across the line. On another day that goes in, but since we aren’t scoring it rolls on the other side, but that’s how it is.”
On keeping confidence after David Ousted’s many saves:
“Just keep shooting. In training, Tyler (Deric), Joe (Willis), and Calle (Brown), they all make great saves too. You just keep grinding and if you don’t shoot you don’t score. You can’t dwell on it.”
On the controversy at the end:
“I did see a handball. Cubo was going for the header, I was right behind him, it was coming right to me, and a magical hand appeared and knocked it down, and I guess since we have zero penalty kicks this year, there’s a trend going that we won’t get one.”
ERICK ‘CUBO’ TORRES
On playing alongside Will Bruin:
“Well, I think it was a good game. I felt very comfortable. I think we had a lot of well-planted passes. I think we had a lot of opportunities. I’m not happy because we weren’t able to score a goal. But in the end, I think if we analyzed the game or watched it on film, we’d see that we had a lot of chances at goal. The team did more attacking. And I felt good about the game; I think the team was also very accurate tonight. We need to continue working; there are many areas we need to improve, but I think was a very good game offensively.”
His overall take on the match:
“It was a very even match, I thought we had the better of the opportunities, obviously Boni’s (Boniek Garcia) hit one off the post, we dug in and I think defensively we [were] good, and I thought we [were] a little bit unlucky today.”
On coming off the bench:
“Obviously I was away on national team duty, I was carrying a few things coming back from there, me and Wade (Barrett) sat down, and obviously coming off the game Wednesday, the quick turnaround, we thought it would be best, same with Ricardo Clark as well.”
On his adjusting to the heat:
“I mean you have to just get used to it. I’ve been here four and a bit years now, but it’s been getting hotter every year. But we train in it every single day so, our preparation has to be 100 percent.”
On his move to center back in the 13th minute after Raul Rodriguez injury:
“The last time I played as a center back was in 2014 with Seattle. It’s natural for me and it isn’t really something I have to think about to be honest.”
On the Dynamo recording four straight clean sheets at home:
“I think it’s a tribute to the whole team. We’re all really keyed in defensively and tactically with what we need to do and I think it’s been showing lately. Like I said, it’s just all of us working hard. I’ve been playing next to Horst all year and tonight I was just on the other side. Our partnership has always been good and I love playing with him because we both communicate a lot and I think we have good chemistry as well.”
On the goal-scoring drought the team is going through:
“That’s football sometimes. At the beginning of the year all we could do was score goals but defensively we weren’t as solid. Now defensively we’re a bit more solid and offensively things will come together, but hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.”