Having seen off one of the best teams in some style last weekend, heading to face the worst in the West was always one of those games that had you worried based on Vancouver Whitecaps propensity to struggle against the lower teams.
As things played out, the ‘Caps came away from Commerce City with a 2-2 draw with Colorado Rapids in a match that swung back and forth. When you’re forced to come from behind, a point on the road is always a fairly satisfactorily result, but the ‘Caps will feel they should have come away with all three.
They certainly had the chances to do so and when Tony Tchani fired them ahead just five minutes in, the Whitecaps should have gone on and built on last week’s success. But a first half equaliser from Axel Sjöberg and a go ahead goal from Kevin Doyle put the Rapids in the driving seat. A late push from the ‘Caps saw Fredy Montero level, but that was to be it and both sides had to settle for a point.
The rain was coming down in the early stages, but that didn’t stop both sides getting off to a fast start.
The home side threatened first and Marlon Hairston came within a hair of giving them the lead four minutes in, but his shot to the back post went just the wrong side.
It was a let off, but one which Vancouver quickly capitalised upon as they went straight up the other end of the pitch and scored on a low long range strike from Tchani, that hit off the right post and in.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) August 6, 2017
The perfect start for the Whitecaps, building on last week’s emphatic win in Dallas in the best possible way.
The Rapids nearly hit back right away, but Dominique Badji’s effort went past the same post as Hairston’s.
Colorado did tie things up though in the 15th minute. Vancouver likely felt that they’d cleared the danger from a free kick, but Sheanon Williams clearance was poor and the ball came quickly back into the box and Sjöberg lost his marker, to drill the ball past David Ousted from close range.
The action dipped after a hectic start and Bernie Ibini put himself in a good position to restore the ‘Caps lead on the half hour mark, but Mike da Fonte did fantastic to get a block in as the Aussie chested the ball down and was set to pull the trigger six yards out.
Doyle brought a save out of Ousted with a shot from outside the box with five minutes remaining, before Yordy Reyna fired one over for the ‘Caps as the minutes ticked down. Vancouver squandered a great four on three break when Fredy Montero decided to shoot and slice his effort, with men in the middle.
That was it for the first half action, but the second half started at an equally brisk pace and Ousted again denied Doyle, this time with a goalline save off a header.
Doyle finally got the better of the Dane in the 55th minute after a quick Rapids break from a Whitecaps free kick, and the Irishman buried a Hairston backheel to give Colorado their first lead of the night.
We got the first use of VAR in a ‘Caps game in the 66th minute when the officials reviewed a possible handball on Andrew Jacobson. No penalty was given and the ‘Caps stormed up the pitch from the resultant corner and thought they’d tied things up but substitute Brek Shea’s effort was ruled out for a clear offside.
Vancouver came within inches of getting that equaliser in the 73rd minute when Cristian Techera, who had been extremely effective since coming on, sent a cross in to Montero, whose effort crashed off the right post.
Montero wasn’t to be denied though and got his goal three minutes later, heading home another fantastic deliver from Techera, this time from a free kick.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) August 6, 2017
Techera nearly grabbed a goal for himself with five minutes remaining but da Fonte deflected his shot away for a corner.
You felt the ‘Caps had what it took to go on and get the win, but it wasn’t to be. They had the last chance of the match in the closing seconds when Jared Watts headed a Tchani header across goal away from danger, but that was to be it.
Four points from two away games is a pretty good return considering where the ‘Caps were playing and recent summer struggles. It’s really hard to grumble about that, but last week’s win in Dallas raised expectations and with the Western Conference as tight as it is, you really need to be taking maximum points from the weaker teams.
The point sees the Whitecaps hanging on to the sixth and final playoff space ahead of Sunday’s Portland-LA match by the skin of their teeth. There’s still the games in hand, but points on the board are much more important. It’s starting to look like a perm six from seven scenario, but we’ve all seen how a run of wins or losses can drastically change the standings.
Next week sees Vancouver heading to another struggling team in New England. The Revolution sit second bottom of the east. It’s a game that’s there for the taking, and a return from this three game road stretch with five or seven points would be fantastic. And the way the West is going, it needs to be. The room for error is getting close to nil.
FINAL SCORE: Colorado Rapids 2 – 2 Vancouver Whitecaps
COLORADO: Tim Howard; Eric Miller (Alan Gordon 78), Jared Watts, Axel Sjöberg, Mike da Fonte; Micheal Azira (Bismark Boateng 86), Mohammed Saeid, Marlon Hairston, Shkëlzen Gashi (Joshua Gatt 71); Dominique Badji, Kevin Doyle [Subs Not Used: John Berner, Kortne Ford, Dillon Serna, Caleb Calvert]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Sheanon Williams, Andrew Jacobson, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Christian Bolanos (Cristian Techera 64), Matias Laba, Tony Tchani, Bernie Ibini (Brek Shea 64); Yordy Reyna; Fredy Montero (Erik Hurtado 84) [Subs Not Used: Stefan Marinovic, Jake Nerwinksi, Russell Teibert, Nicolas Mezquida]
On tonight’s result…
It was an entertaining game, credit to both teams. They tried to attack, it was a little bit more open for my liking. Obviously they had a number of chances, I think we had a number of chances, which is good attacking play. Defensively, I think we did well at times but we were open at times. Probably a fair result.
On Tony Tchani’s performance…
He was strong again, I think Tony is getting better each game. Obviously, gets a really, really cool finish, sets us off nicely, then we lose concentration and conceded before halftime. Second half, we come out and played really, really well, especially after they scored. We took the game to them and great character shown by the guys today.
On season form…
It’s a tough place to come. Pablo [Mastroeni] does a great job getting the guys fired up. I knew it would be a totally different game to the one where we managed to get three points earlier in the season. You have to fight, you have to match the work ethic because he does get them fired up, and we did that today.
On Fredy Montero…
Another good finish for Fredy today. I think he had a couple good chances today. He was disappointed when I took him off with ten minutes to go but that’s what goal scorers do, and I don’t mind doing that because it’s about squads in this league, pleased for Fredy [Montero] to get another goal.
On looking towards the Playoffs…
There is a long way to go, we know where we are, we got points on the board, and we’ve got really big games coming up, so we just got to keep ticking away. If you look at the last two years, teams that have just sneaked into the Playoffs have gone on to make MLS Cups. You got to keep going, you got to keep grinding, and if you get a little luck along the way you can probably sneak in, but there are 21 other teams trying to get in.
On the today’s match…
I think it’s more important for us, playing away, to get one point. Looking forward to the next one.
On confidence and current form…
Getting more opportunities to score, more chances through the games because we are starting to understand each other. That’s good for me and I feel happy that I am helping the team to get some points.
On Colorado’s home record…
Of course every game is different for us. The first one wasn’t in our mind, we knew it was going to be a tough game, it was. We just wanted to play to win the game, but at the end of the day we are happy with one point.
On second half push…
I mean we wanted to win the game, after I scored the goal we felt, you could see in my celebration, I just grabbed the ball and went back to the middle of the field. I knew the team could keep pushing forward to get more opportunities and maybe we [could] score one more.
On the team’s road run…
We feel like when the other teams are trying to attack us, we find those spaces they are leaving behind and it’s been good for us. Every game is different but we are looking forward to keep getting as many points as we can because unfortunately we lost some games at home.
On the performance from the attack…
I thought that we started bright, I thought the front four guys in [Dominique] Badji, [Kevin] Doyle, Marlon [Hairston], and [Shkëlzen] Gashi really got into the game early. Gashi has been out quite some time now and I thought he added a real bright spot to the group, really allowed the team to come forward, combine and really take the sting out of the game. We’ve been talking about just driving, going forward and being brave, and I hope that moment there really resonates with the group.
On Gashi’s return from injury…
He’s been out for probably six weeks, and last year he was our most prolific scorer on the offensive side of things. I think what Gashi brought tonight was a lot of things, his work defensively was very good to close down and move our lines and press higher up the field, especially in the first half. His presence on the field was very noticeable and when he stepped out of the game, we lost that ability to play a little bit. His presence was tangible and look forward to getting him back on the field next weekend.
On the defensive miscues…
We lost this game, and I say lost because where we are at in the season it’s a loss. We lost this game on a set piece and I think that is something we work on several times a week. We have conceded two goals in the last two games on some kind of set piece. This game is about those moments and when they arise you never know and you got to be alert and your teammates got to keep you alert. It’s unfortunate tonight we let that slip away, but you got to learn from that and move forward.
On eight of final 13 games on the road…
At this point it’s not on the road and at home, they’re must-win games. We got to continue to be dynamic in making the attack and capitalize our chances. Not giving up goals that aren’t complete football that’s beating you, these are set plays that we can do much better on. We need to get one game better, we had this game and we were in a good position the last twenty minutes of this game. To answer your question, there are no away games and no home games, they’re must-win games. Everywhere we play, we need to win.
On his goal…
Obviously, it feels good to score a goal and it was my first in front of my fans – that’s always special. It was a set piece from the right side and it got swing in. I was hanging out at the back post, trying to pick my moment. Mike da Fonte timed it really well and I just tried to stay onside and in that space behind. Once the ball was up in the air, just tried to look at the ball and connect.
On how the team feels with the result…
We’ve been good on set pieces most of the year, so we’re obviously really disappointed with that. We don’t look at it as one point won, we look at it as two points lost today.