Vancouver Whitecaps completed their four match stretch of home games with a 2-1 win over the last placed Colorado Rapids, in a match that they made a lot more difficult than it felt they needed to.
Led by the dynamic combo of Yordy Reyna and Fredy Montero, the Whitecaps have collected 10 of a possible 12 points in those four games and have extended their unbeaten streak to seven (5 wins, 2 draws), extending their lead at the top of the Western Conference to four points.
Montero got his team-leading, and personal best equalling, 13th of the season while Reyna upped his total to five, all of them being game winners.
The only blemish on the night was a goal late in the first half by Rapids striker Dominique Badji, who pounced on poor defensive play to give the visitors hope.
Montero took less than four minutes to draw first blood for Vancouver when he was able to convert a Yordy Reyna cross heading the ball in for the early lead.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) September 24, 2017
The home side had plenty of chances to extend their lead including a free kick just outside the box, right in the middle of the goal by Cristian Techera, and a great run into the box from El Bicho, but they were unable to convert.
That would cost them in the final minute of the first half as Tim Parker was late in clearing a ball into the box from, allowing Badji to get a foot in and poke the ball past David Ousted.
After the break Vancouver would start again on the right foot with Montero coming close to picking up his brace, being denied by Tim Howard in the six yard area.
While he wasn’t able to get the Whitecaps into the lead, Montero helped assist on the team’s second of the night, minutes later, sending a perfectly flighted ball over the top into the path of Reyna who was able to slot the ball past Howard.
It looked like it may have just been too far ahead of the Peruvian by the US national team goalkeeper didn’t come out quick enough and the ‘Caps regained their lead, and it was one they didn’t give up.
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) September 24, 2017
Colorado had their chance in the 67th minute to draw even when Michael Azira was set up in the box sending a blast that Ousted parried the ball over the bar.
That would be the visitors best chance in the second half as they carried the play in the late stages but did little to create any significant chances to draw even.
With the three points the Whitecaps remain in top spot in the Western Conference with a four point lead and games in hand (Portland and Sporting Kansas City will play their games on Sunday).
The win becomes especially important with four of their next five games being away from BC Place, three of them against the team directly below them in the standings.
That will begin this Wednesday with a trip down to middle Cascadia as they face Seattle Sounders before moving onto Sporting Kansas City next week. A big for games for Vancouver and ones which could go a long way to determining just how serious contenders the Whitecaps are for the MLS Cup.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 1 Colorado Rapids
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Jake Nerwinski, Andrew Jacobson, Tim Parker, Marcel de Jong; Aly Ghazal, Tony Tchani; Cristian Techera (Bernie Ibini 70), Yordy Reyna, Brek Shea (Alphonso Davies 77); Fredy Montero (Erik Hurtado 82) [Subs not used: Stefan Marinovic, Jordan Harvey, Nicolás Mezquida, Russell Teibert]
COLORADO: Tim Howard; Eric Miller, Kortne Ford, Axel Sjoberg, Mekeil Williams; Michael Azira, Jared Watts (Bismark Boateng 75); Marlon Hairston (Stefan Aigner 60), Mohammed Saeid, Joshua Gatt (Alan Gordon 65); Dominique Badji [Subs Not Used: Zac MacMath, Mike da Fonte, Dillon Serna, Bobby Burling]
On the big guns coming out for the second half:
“Yeah great character again. I talk about it all the time with my group, not just certain players, all players stepped up today. [Andrew Jacobson] is an example of not being in the team for a few weeks and coming in and playing brilliant in place of Kendall. Obviously Fredy and Yordy at the top end of the pitch need to do their job, they did their job. It was a thoroughly professional performance. But we gave away a bad goal and we didn’t put it away, and by that, I mean the Bug [Cristian Techera], Bernie, Yordy, Fredy, should of scored, Brek Shea should of scored when we had the opportunity, and we didn’t. When you don’t do that, you leave teams hanging and [Steve] Cooke’s come in and they have nothing to lose, fullbacks are high, they play gung-ho football which is dangerous. I was a little bit worried, but credit to the guys.”
On importance of these three points staying atop Western Conference:
“I’m not thinking about spots, I’m thinking about three points every game, that’s all I’m thinking about. We’ve got a great game on Wednesday against our neighbours and we know it’s going to be huge, it’s going to be a great challenge, it’s an opportunity to pick up another three points. It’s not going to be easy, it wasn’t easy today but we just want to get as many points on the board as we can. As I said, sometimes the games against the teams at the wrong end of the table are as hard as the teams at the top end. I made them aware of that and the four-game home stand we picked up three wins and a draw. The whole squad deserves a lot of credit, and the squad will be used this week.”
On Montero’s play scoring his 13th goal, and since Yordy has come in beside him:
“Yeah I don’t like the number 13 so hopefully he can get 14 on Wednesday if he plays, if I select him which I’m sure I will. He’s grown, I think he’s got more confident, the little fundamentals I want my forward players to do, hold the ball up, react positively, encourage the team, he’s done better, and that’s credit to him. When you’re confident and enjoying your football, and Fredy certainly is, you get into goalscoring opportunities. He could have scored three goals today, in the first half he defended very well, took a touch, scored the goal, great bit of skill by Yordy, and then he gets across Tim Howard in the second half and on another day that’s another goal. So he’s just got to keep pushing. He works on it every day, he does shooting every single day after training as well as Yordy, and the Bug [Cristian Techera], and all the South Americans, so you get your rewards if you put the work in, so he’s been brilliant for this organization.”
On whether ‘Caps get the respect they deserve:
“I don’t care. My boys work hard every single day. You can cover things over or you can just look at things and if you look at things those boys are giving me absolutely everything and they’re performing to the levels that I expect them to and I demand them to. If people want to give us credit, great. If they don’t, no problem. I’ll shake their hand and smile.”
Thoughts on the match:
“Sometimes I feel like we want to make all the games interesting for the fans, they can get their season tickets for the next year. It’s a soccer game, we were winning and they came back with that goal at the end of the first half. But we said in the break that we need to put more pressure, and we came out in the second half and we scored that goal.”
On the emphasis of getting three points with a difficult road trip coming up:
“Whenever we play at home we have the responsibility to go and play hard to get the three points. That was our mindset today, and we did it. We got the three points, and now it’s going to be a different history.”
On playing a team that has nothing to lose:
“Sometimes they are more confident. They just play to win the game. As you say, they have nothing to lose. They make it a very hard game. It was tough for us, but at the end of the day we got the three points. We’re happy for that and we’re looking forward.”
On the reception he expects in Seattle:
“I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t know. I’m excited to see that. I respect all the people in Seattle, and I have a good past with them. But the history today says that I’m with [the] Whitecaps. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I just want to try to win the game for my team.”
If going back to Seattle will be emotional:
“Well it’s going to be at some point when the referee blows the whistle, I know I’m going to try to win the three points for my team.”
On what his time in Seattle meant to him:
“It was a good time. Of course, Seattle adopted me as one of their players, and of course I did win many trophies with them, three U.S. Open Cups. They gave me the opportunity to try to go to Europe, and to make my dream come true. I’m so thankful to them. I’m back in MLS, but it’s not with Seattle, so I think it’s important to talk about the Whitecaps.”
Thoughts on the match:
“At the end, we won. It doesn’t matter when we score or how it was, but at the end we have the three points. That’s what’s most important.”
On how he’s found the play in MLS:
“Actually before I’d come here, I watched a few games of the team, and when I came here I was already training and saw a couple of games. I saw how fast and how the transition was so much in the games. It was difficult in our last three games because we were winning and the other teams were trying to get in the game, so they were making a lot of pressure. So it was just a bit of pressure for us the last few games that I played. It was a little bit, not stressy, but it was just a lot of pressure at the end. That’s why it was different. If you’re winning by three or four, like the other game on Wednesday [against Minnesota], it can be much easier.”
On being in first place but not getting more attention, and being underdogs:
“I actually like that. For me that’s fine, it’s very good. We don’t need attention. We come from nowhere, don’t give us attention, just the other teams. But at the end, let’s see who’s going to laugh.”
On the match Wednesday against Seattle and the biggest derby games he’s played:
“At Nacional [in Portugal], it was an island in Madeira, and we had another team inside the island. It was tough, not a big stadium. But a derby is a derby, even if you play without supporters. That was the most [intense derby I’ve played in]. But it doesn’t mean it has to be just supporters [in the derby matches]. We played Benfica end of the season, trying to win the league and they had 70,000 supporters in the stadium, and [FC Porto] the same. So, for me, supporters [in the opponents’ stadium] is okay, it’s no problem.”
On general thoughts on tonight’s game:
“I couldn’t be prouder of the players. They’ve been working extremely hard in training and they came out tonight and not only worked hard and been together in terms of that kind of a performance, but with the ball I thought it was one of our best performances of the season, if not the best performance of the season with the ball. I think we’re a little bit unfortunate not to have a couple more openings in the second half, I thought we really took the game to them, unfortunately they got that one ball over the top, and it’s a goal. But from my perspective sometimes you don’t get what you deserve in the game and I think tonight we had very good value for at least a point and probably a win in my opinion. Again I couldn’t be prouder of the players, they’re bitterly disappointed, they’re devastated they haven’t got a win or at least a point and that’s because they’ve been putting the work in. They have been doing everything they can possibly do to not only play well but keep making progress. That’s a group of players in there that are quiet, disappointed, and rightly so because they played exceptionally well and should have won the game, and I’m delighted they’re disappointed because it shows that they care, it shows that they’re a group of professionals that want to win games in this league and do well for each other.”
On Dominique Badji scoring three goals in three games:
“Yeah I thought it was a very good goal because it was quite opportunistic. Sometimes Dominique scores those goals where he breaks free and gets turned and runs at players, and tonight it was a real striker’s goal. So if he can add that kind of thing to his game and score a few more from crosses, link with other players a bit better, again I said it last week I think he can score a lot of goals in this league and I think that’s three in three games, and nine for the season. None of them are from set pieces or penalty kicks, so he’s getting nine from open play, and I think it was unfortunate to maybe get a couple of opportunities tonight. I’ve got high hopes for this player, he works hard, he’s a great teammate and I think if he can add a few more pieces inside the penalty area he can get himself a few more goals.”
On his play in the attacking third:
“Well we want to be the aggressor, we want to be an attacking team, we want to score goals, we want to take the game to teams. Obviously we’re a goal down so we have to, it’s not about sitting back and hoping we lose 2-1. We want to go, and if that means we lose 3-1, 4-1, that’s ok. We want to be the team that goes forward, and I think at the end there we were knocking at the door and I think [it was] really unfortunate Alan [Gordon] couldn’t get a header ball at the end, and the keeper just happened to be in the right spot.”
On tonight’s result:
“We played a tough team obviously at home, top of the table in the west, so they made it tough on us. We probably weren’t great at times, but I thought the second half was much better.”
On positives during a tough season:
“Not many, we just haven’t won enough games, haven’t played well enough. So moments like this, it’s tough to pick out the good moments. There’s been a few, but not enough.”
On coaching next year:
“We’ve got to figure out who we are obviously whoever comes in as the full-time manager is going to have to put his stamp on this team. There’s a lot of things that need to go into place in the offseason, and the preseason, for this team to get better.”
On not tying the match in the second half:
“I think it’s unlucky. We had the majority of possession, but they had the clearer chances, and that’s what it comes down to. They capitalized on the one chance that they had, and we didn’t. Sometimes the game is cruel that way.”
On the game Wednesday and how the body feels:
“It’s feeling good. About as good as it can feel after playing 90 minutes on turf, but we’ve got a great staff that are going to help us get our legs back and get ready for Wednesday.”
On confidence against FC Dallas:
“Definitely. Every time we go down to Dallas we’re confident. This result wasn’t what we wanted and we’re definitely going to do everything we can to get three points on Wednesday.”