Ah, Vancouver Whitecaps. Why do you make things so difficult?
The ‘Caps long road stretch finally came to an end in Colorado on Saturday night and their five game spell ended as it began, with a 2-1 defeat.
It always had a potential to be a banana skin game. The Western Conference leaders, heading to the team rooted at the bottom. The form team on the road against a side in no sort of form at all. Factor in Vancouver never having won in Colorado and this game had all the making of a bad end to their life on the road for the Whitecaps.
And so it proved.
As soon as the Whitecaps fell a goal behind just over a minute in, you knew it was going to be an uphill struggle. Vancouver have yet to win this season when they lose the first goal. In fact, tonight’s loss makes it just one point in the six games that they’ve fallen behind. Scary stuff.
Vancouver Whitecaps ended their five game road stretch as they began it, with a 2-1 loss to a lowly side they could, and should, have beaten.
Full credit to Colorado Rapids though. They fought from the first whistle to the last, ending a six game winless streak and recording their first victory since they beat the Whitecaps at home back in May.
Vicente Sanchez made it a rapid start for Colorado, firing home the opener with just over a minute on the clock. Kekuta Manneh tied things up on the 20 minute mark, but in a game that saw Vancouver start with no DP’s, it was one of Colorado’s that grabbed the winner, when Kevin Doyle hit his first ever MLS goal in the 56th minute.
With Pedro Morales still nursing a calf injury back in Vancouver and with Octavio Rivero and Matias Laba dropping to the bench for this one, the Whitecaps started the game with no Designated Players on the pitch as Carl Robinson rang some surprising changes to keep his squad fresh.
The new look line-up didn’t even have time to find their feet before the Rapids opened the scoring just 79 seconds in.
Drew Moor set Luis Solignac free on the left from a throw in. Gershon Koffie missed a tackle on the Argentine striker and he headed to the byeline before cutting the ball back. Everyone let the ball run through, coming to an unmarked Vicente Sanchez at the back of the box and the Uruguayan easily fired home past David Ousted.
Stunned by the start, Vancouver regrouped and got back in the game, with Manneh looking lively out left.
As has been the case so many times these past few weeks, Ousted became the Whitecaps hero once again when he pulled off an incredible instinctive save from Solignac who did superb to swivel and fire of a rocket of a shot from 12 yards out.
A two goal lead would have been something of a mountain for the Whitecaps to try and claw back at a stadium that hasn’t proved to be a happy hunting ground for them.
Would they be able to capitalise once more on a game changing Ousted save? Of course! And they did just that three minutes later.
The ‘Caps had been pressuring the Rapids defence and won a throw in on the right. Steven Beitashour threw long to Mauro Rosales, who had got in behind two Colorado defenders, and the Argentine looped a speculative cross towards the back post. Rapids keeper Clint Irwin let it bounce, allowing Manneh to nip in and tap home the equaliser from inches out.
You sensed that the momentum was now fully with the visitors, but Vancouver’s gameplan was derailed slightly when Pa Modou Kah has to limp off with an injury in the 28th minute, to be replaced by Diego Rodriguez.
Vancouver’s speed was causing problems for the home side and although both teams created some half chances and defensive scrambles, there was to be no further goalmouth action in the half and the teams headed in level.
The second half started tamely but the game sprang into life when Rapids DP Kevin Doyle grabbed his first MLS goal in the 56th winning, heading a Lucas Pittinari cross in off the post from 14 yards out.
Vancouver made some changes to try and get themselves back in to it, but they only had some half chances from Manneh and sub Rivero to show for it and Colorado comfortably saw out the game for three points that will leave Vancouver wondering just what they need to do to grab another win down there.
At least they can sleep in their own beds for over a week now. They’re not going to have it easy when they return to BC Place next Sunday, however. Kansas City will prove to be a tough opponent. Can they turn some of their road form in a home win? It will certainly be a good test of just where this team is right now.
FINAL SCORE: Colorado Rapids 2 – 1 Vancouver Whitecaps
COLORADO: Clint Irwin; James Riley, Bobby Burling, Jared Watts, Drew Moor; Marcelo Sarvas (Dillon Powers 84), Sam Cronin, Lucas Pittinari; Vicente Sanchez (Dillon Serna 73), Kevin Doyle, Luis Solignac [Subs Not Used: Zac MacMath, Marc Burch, Joseph Greenspan, Charles Eloundou, Dominique Badji]
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa Modou Kah (Diego Rodriguez 28), Jordan Harvey; Gershon Koffie, Deybi Flores; Cristian Techera (Nicolas Mezquida 67), Mauro Rosales, Kekuta Manneh; Darren Mattocks (Octavio Rivero 67) [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Matias Laba, Erik Hurtado, Kianz Froese]
Thought on the match:
“I don’t think we’ve done enough to probably win the game. I think some of our performance levels weren’t what we have been in the last three games and unfortunately we haven’t picked up any points tonight.”
On Colorado being a difficult place to play and giving up goals at the beginning of each half:
“It’s a difficult place to play for us, I know that. We give away two poor goals which could have been avoided, and if you give up bad goals, you’re never going to win games and that’s what happened today.”
On Mauro Rosales’ play tonight:
“I thought Mauro was the best player on the pitch by a mile today. I thought he ran his socks off. I won’t fault the group in there because they worked their socks off today. Just some individual errors, we switched off at the wrong times and we gave them opportunities and they scored two goals in both halves early on. I won’t make any excuses today; I don’t think our levels were good enough to win the game.”
On capitalizing on chances in the game:
“We didn’t take enough chances, we scored one goal away from home, they scored two, and they win the game. We missed a number of chances, they missed a number of chances, and so we take it on the chin and move on.”
On the performances during the five-game road trip:
“We take it game by game and, as I said after the result in New England, we were happy but we knew this would be a difficult game. They’re fighting for their lives. Pablo’s doing a great job here, they’re creating chances and sometimes it’s going to turn. Today they got a few breaks and they took their chances, so credit to them today.”
On Pa Modou Kah:
“He’s hurt his calf, so he’s probably a doubt for next week.”
On going back home after a five-game road trip:
“It’ll be nice. Obviously five games on the road is not easy, every team’s got to go through it. No excuses, we don’t make excuses, but we will be glad to go home and play in front of our fans. We have 20,000 there which is great, and they’re all very respectful, the fans in Vancouver, which is important.”
On the game:
“Disappointed about the result. I think we created enough chances to score more goals, to have a little bit more control in the game. We couldn’t be good enough in the attacking part to get the goals. They did at the right time. They hurt us in the right time and that makes it difficult for us to come back. We will have to learn from this and just try to move forward in a positive way. It’s not easy because we were playing really good soccer, and we are disappointed because we came here to get the three points and we couldn’t.”
On having to chase the games after giving up early goals in both halfs:
“You cannot let them score first or even more when you’re playing away because you’re going to be chasing, you’re going to have to run more. The space is going to come out for them, and not being in a good position can happen what they did in the game, they scored two goals. The first one was an easy one for them, and we didn’t come with the right mentality. After two minutes, losing the game is not what we expect and it changes everything that we planned and did during the week. We will learn from that as well.”
On the road trip as a whole:
“Now we have to go home to BC Place and try to do our best, try to get the points over there. This means a lot to get the three points in front of our fans. They deserve that, they’ve been supporting us all over the places where we play, and they deserve for us to work hard for them and get the other three points at home.”
On the team losing creativity in the second half:
“I think we played well in the first 45 minutes. We created the chances that we needed to score the goals, but in the second half, we didn’t do the same. We launched the ball, we tried to play duels all the time and doing that against Colorado is not going to end well.”
On what the team has to learn from this loss:
“The maturity needs to come in games like this. Even though we are down 2-1, we need to have the calmness to play the ball and get in good positions to create chances. We got behind 2-1 today and then tried to launch to ball, and that’s tough against a team that’s packed in and does well defensively.”
On not everyone bringing their best effort:
“Yeah, I said in the locker room that I don’t think we could be happy with this result. Carl [Robinson] backs us all the time and takes responsibility for all our things, but this is down to the players taking responsibility, coming here and putting in an effort, and today I didn’t think it was there.”
On both their goals:
“On their first one, I’m not sure what happened on the back post. They get through and suddenly he’s wide open and I just tried to scramble across and get a foot down, but it’s a great finish, he buries it. The second one, we don’t pressure him and he heads it perfectly off the post and it bounces in, so two goals that definitely could’ve been prevented and should’ve been. We will go home and look at it and hopefully learn from it.”
On how proud he is of the squad after the road trip:
“I’m very proud of the win’s we’ve got, but I still say we’ve got more. We’ve got more to learn, we’ve got more points to go for. I’m happy with the points we’ve gotten away, but I’m not satisfied. I think we could’ve gotten more, and that shows where we are right now as a team that we are hungry and we need to go forward. That’s down to hard work, so we need to push on now.”
On tonight’s result:
“It’s an elation for this group of guys. All season we’ve created a lot of great opportunities, and today we were fortunate enough to finish two. That’s what defines games and changes mentalities. I’m elated for those guys. We really pulled it together against an exceptional Vancouver team. The guys left everything on the field, and for that we were rewarded with a great result.”
On first half of the game:
“I thought it was a great start to the game. I thought we were on top of it, and really pressing. There was a little lull in the middle of the first half where we gave them a little too much space, but then we picked it up towards the end of the first half and I think we carried that into the latter bit of the game. The crowd was fantastic. The 12th man was palpable out there. It’s a great evening for the guys, a great evening for the fans, and a great way to celebrate the 4th of July.”
On team’s mentality going into the game:
“I have the ability to see these guys train every day, and a lot of people don’t. When you’re out there on the training field there’s a bunch of guys that believe, a bunch of guys that work their tails off to achieve what they want individually, and more importantly collectively as a group. Sam [Cronin] has been a big leader in this group. He brings the right mentality and the right mindset, and tonight I think it was contagious. We had great performances on the field tonight. Without that, the result wouldn’t have come.”
On the formation:
“It was the first time we were able to put players into positions for them to show their best. They worked very well together. I think that’s a great sign. It’s not easy integrating two new attacking players eight weeks into the season. We knew it would take a little time to get on the same page. We have the start of something special with these three guys.”
On halftime speech:
“I told them they were on top of the game; they have to be patient and continue to press and force the game, put balls in the box, be aggressive, express yourselves and be dynamic going forward. They took it on full stride and really attacked the game.”
On tonight’s game:
“I think we played very well and created some chances. That’s [ball bouncing in off the post] a bit of luck that might be changing our season.”
On his fitness and performance:
“Tonight I felt very fit and played the full 90 minutes here at home for the first time. I still felt strong in the last bits of the game. First time I played in MLS as the number 9 as well and it felt more natural in that position. I enjoyed it and we deserved to win the game.”
On tonight’s change of lineup:
“We pressed higher up the pitch and closed them down. I was playing in the center but we had Luis (Solignac) and Vicente (Sánchez) pushing very far forward. I think we started really well in the first 10-15 minutes. Maybe we sat back a bit then and try to protect what we had but when they got the equalizer we got back strong again.”
On moving forward after a home win:
“We need to win games to get ourselves back involved. We need to back ourselves and trust each other to be the better team. No matter how well we play at times, we need to win to get confidence.”
On tonight’s match:
“The key to winning the match was the confidence after the early goal.”
On first half momentum:
“I think we maybe got too excited after the first goal; we wanted to score more goals. Vancouver is second in the league, so that can happen. I think we played better and we fight so much. We deserved the win.”
On Sanchez’s goal:
“I just wanted to put it in. It was really quick. I got the mark on me, so I crossed the ball and was lucky that Vicente was there. Kevin did the right movement taking the man with him and getting the space for Vicente for a great goal.”
On playing with Doyle:
“He’s a great player. He played in one of the biggest leagues in the world. It was important to have him here. He’s a good target player so it was easy to find him in the middle.”