After a week that saw Vancouver play in three different countries, suffering three different defeats (is that a first?), the ten man Whitecaps ended their disappointing North American journey with a 2-0 loss to Canadian rival TFC.
Both goals came in the final 14 minutes of the match, following Brek Shea’s 70th minute red card, with Victor Vasquez and Jozy Altidore scoring for last season’s MLS Cup finalists, leaving Vancouver still searching for their first league win of the year.
The first half saw both teams create very few shots on target and neither side troubled the backup keepers Alex Bono and Spencer Richey, the latter starting in his first MLS game.
There was little happening in the midfield for Vancouver, but with Christian Bolanos coming on at the start of the second half, the ‘Caps started to carry the play and get into the danger areas but only had a long range attempt from Russell Teibert to show for it.
The match took a turn with 20 minutes to go when, after receiving an initial yellow for a tackle, Shea received another card seconds later for dissent reducing Vancouver to ten men yet again. A common trait with the team over the past year.
TFC soon capitalized on the extra man in the 76th minute as Vazquez scored on a header from in close, which was followed four minutes later with a strike by Altidore.
All five of the goals conceded by MLS this season have come once the team has been down a man.
Vancouver are now winless to start the new MLS season, with one solitary point from their three games. They will now have to wait until April 1st to try and get on the winning side when they host LA Galaxy at B.C. Place. Let’s hope they’re not left looking like fools.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 0 – 2 Toronto FC
VANCOUVER: Spencer Richey; Sheanon Williams, Kendall Waston, Tim Parker, Jordan Harvey; Matías Laba, Russell Teibert; Alphonso Davies (Christian Bolaños 46), Nicolás Mezquida (Kekuta Manneh 74), Brek Shea; Fredy Montero (Erik Hurtado 74) [Substitutes not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Andrew Jacobson, Cristian Techera, Marcel de Jong]
TORONTO: Alex Bono; Eriq Zavaleta, Drew Moor, Nick Hagglund (Raheem Edwards 75); Steven Beitashour, Armando Cooper (Victor Vasquez 64), Michael Bradley, Jonathan Osorio, Justin Morrow; Tosaint Ricketts (Chris Mavinga 81), Jozy Altidore [Substitutes not used: Clint Irwin, Jay Chapman, Marco Delgado, Jordan Hamilton]
Thoughts on Brek Shea’s red card and its influence on the match:
“Well, it was a turning point because the game was pretty even; it played out exactly as I thought it would. Not much action in the first half, second half we tried to get into the troops a little bit to have an impact and play on our front foot, and we did. For 20+ minutes we were trying to engineer the game and trying to get that goal. Then, obviously Brek’s sending off out of nowhere, totally affects it and we don’t react, we don’t respond and we give away a goal. The first goal was always going to win the game. Disappointing. I don’t know why at the moment he actually gave him the second card. I will get to the bottom of it.”
On the lack of discipline among the players and what can be done:
“Listen, I don’t condone lack of discipline, one hundred per cent. We won’t do that at this football club, me as a manager. What he actually told me he said, and I generally one hundred per cent, believe my player, goes on every single minute of the game. So, it’s a fine line and it’s a little can of worms. If he said it, which he said to me he did, I used to say it every single game, ten times. So, what you have to do is, if you do that, send him off – no problem. We’ll respectfully take it, but you have to do it for every player. That didn’t happen.”
Thoughts on some players being disciplined and others not:
“I think we all see the game, don’t we? I’m not even going to make a comment, my team needs to be better. What’s really important is that if you’re going to make key decisions, at key moments, it’s the same across the board. Obviously, watching today’s game that might not be the case.”
On how he will change from this start to the season:
“We need to hit the target more, to have those chances, I think. Probably the last kick of the game when Erik went through one-on-one, summed us up a little bit. We have got to get back to work and practice. We’ll have a couple days off now after the heavy travel that we’ve had. We’ll get back to work, that’s all you can do. We know we have to be better individually and collectively, but up until the two goals and the first goal from Toronto, we were quite confident in the game, but obviously the first goal changes everything. So, we know we have to be better the first three games; we’ve done some okay things and other things we need to improve on. We’ll just have to get back to work.”
On whether he wants to make transfers before the April transfer window closes:
“We’re looking at things all the time and I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to bring someone in, because I would like to strengthen certain areas. There’s a process with that, so we’ll evaluate over the next two weeks, because there are one or two areas that I would like to strengthen and bring some freshness into it. I think the lack of creativity you talk about, when Christian [Bolanos] came on at halftime, he was excellent for us and when we get him back up to speed, he’ll go away with Costa Rica now and get some more fitness. He will help us, but as you said there, we’re always looking.”
On Fredy Montero’s role as a focal point:
“It’s pleasing to have Freddy on the pitch, that’s the first thing, we brought him here to play. The two games, he’s played up front and you know, he’s a good player. We want him on the pitch, whether he plays at a nine or a ten, a second forward needed today, Nico dropped in slightly behind him. He had one or two half chances, but wasn’t able to take it. He scores with his first touch against New York and then you expect him to score every time he touches the ball. He’s not going to do that. What we need to do, as a group, is create more chances for him and put him in the right areas. So whether he plays as a nine or a ten, it’s important we get him on the field somewhere.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It’s kind of a funny one because it’s very bittersweet obviously. I’m delighted to get my debut, but it felt like halfway through the second half we were pushing and the match was going our way, but the sending off changes things. [I’m] disappointed to not get one point at least. I’m happy, but disappointed as well.”
On adrenaline flowing after his big second half save:
“A little bit. It was flowing early on honestly. I think I caught a cross almost ten seconds into the game. It’s always nice to kind of get your first touch early on and settle into it. It’s something I’ve been training for for a long time, so I felt confident and felt like I belonged out there.”
On his play:
“It was one of those funny games because I didn’t have a lot to do, except one save and then pull the ball out of my net twice. Sometimes the games where you’re actually getting lots of strikes on net are actually the easiest ones. Altidore’s an incredible player, Bradley, so they’ve got good players across the park, Giovinco or not.”
On what he can take out of this performance:
“It sometimes can be a grind for guys that are behind the number one, and obviously this is Dave’s spot and he’s a great keeper. But what kind of pro would I be if I wasn’t chomping at his ankles, wanting his spot. So it’s a confidence builder. I’ll put it in my locker and use it to move forward. Whenever Iget my next opportunity, I’ll use this to build off of.”
On it still being early in the season, but what needs to change?:
“It’s very early on. We’ve just had two sending offs where we didn’t finish the game with eleven guys. It’d be a good start, whether it’s poor choice on the referees or on us, we’ve got to find ways to not put ourselves in jeopardy of a decision potentially being made to change the number of guys on the pitch. I think that’s first and foremost. But beyond that I think we just need to keep working. We’ve got the bye next weekend, so we’ll have a week and a half to regroup here and be ready for our next match.”
Thoughts on the match:
“First half wasn’t that good, more energy and interceptions than good soccer. The second half we came and we tried to play more with the ball, we got more space. Unfortunately the red card changed the game for us.”
On playing the ball on the ground rather than in the air:
“That was the point that the coach made as soon as we got into the locker room. We came back to the field and we tried to do that. I think we have enough players that know what kind of game we’re playing, and how we can play, look for the spaces. Second half we did better, but at the end of the day we finished losing this game at home. [That’s] something that we are disappointed in.”
On it being early in the season:
“One thing that I know for sure, I believe in the process. I’m new here, but obviously I want to win games. But we are going to continue working hard. The victories are coming, I’m sure of that. We have very good players, and once we put all of the pieces together and get that first win we’re going to continue that.”
On his match fitness:
“I feel good, 60-70 minutes now this game. I’m going to keep working hard. I know, my work here, it’s not started yet. I’m happy that I get to play 70 minutes today, but I’m looking forward to the whole season. I believe in my teammates, I believe in the coaching staff and all the work we’re doing every day.”
Thoughts on the match:
“I thought it was a little bit of a stalemate in a way, a lot of possession in between the two boxes, but not a ton of great chances through a fair stretch of the match. So obviously when the red card takes place, the game just opens up a tiny bit more. We made an adjustment and put on more of a winger on the left side and slid Justin Morrow into a slightly deeper position, so he can kind of play-make out of that position, versus a natural centre back. We also brought Victor Vazquez on, who I thought opened up the game a little bit more as well. We started to create some chances, it was obviously difficult for them a man down. That’s good for us. To be fair, last year we were a man up on a number of occasions and didn’t score a goal, so I’m happy for the guys that we took advantage of the situation. An unfortunate situation, but we took advantage of it and took the points.”
On the subs of Vazquez and Edwards changing the match:
“For us, Vazquez is a real natural playmaker. He moves the ball quickly, he finds great spots around the field, and technically he can hit just about any pass. I thought his addition started to open some things up, he found some very good spots. He was looking for the forwards a little bit more than maybe we were in the initial phase of things, but I thought he opened things up. Raheem was a change because I thought at times, with Nick [Hagglund] especially not being a natural left-sided guy getting a bit stuck on the ball sometimes, we found a real comfortable solution and we slid Justin Morrow back into that position, because he’s a little bit better being naturally on his left foot and left side. Raheem would play a little bit higher, who can take on somebody on the backline, who’s aggressive in the attacking phase. Both moves were attacking moves. We tried to open up their backline a bit more and create some chances. Sometimes you make moves and they work, and you look smart. Sometimes you make moves and they don’t. So it worked out for us today.”
On an unbeaten start to the season and starting on the road again:
“It’s three years in a row. The first thing is, the last two years especially we’ve started with the mindset to be good, solid defensively and make sure we don’t give away too many things. We know over the course of a few games we will start to extend ourselves a little bit from an attacking perspective, but keep ourselves in games and make sure we set ourselves up to get results. I thought that was it today. We didn’t have a ton of chances through much of the game, but lots of things happen over the course of 90 minutes and you just have to, when you’re on the road, set yourself up to get the best result possible. Again, circumstances changed when the red card happened and we found ourselves with a real opportunity to take three points, and then we took advantage of it. I think playing on the road is about playing smart, it’s about doing the right things, staying solid and giving yourself the best chance over the course of the match to find the moments to win the game.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It’s a very good win. We feel good about the first three games, and first of all being unbeaten. The beginning of the year is always tough. You hear a lot of guys from different teams around the league say that, but it’s true. Playing on different days and different environments, where it’s not always easy going. Today we played against a good team, a team that is dangerous in transition. It’s never easy coming here. I thought we handled the game in a really good way, and we walk away with three deserved points.”
On capitalizing on being up a man:
“Obviously last year we let a few games get away from us when we went up a guy. Today it was nice to capitalize and I think you saw a group on the field that understood that we still had time and we needed to find the right ways to be patient and still move them around so that we could create little advantages and chances. So I think, like I said, still a lot to work on, but through three games to be unbeaten, to have five points headed back home now for our home opener in a few weeks, we’re excited.”
On what Vazquez brings to the team:
“He is a very good soccer player, he’s smart, he makes guys around him better. In terms of a guy in the midfield who can find space, and is easy to play with, that part is excellent. I think he has an eye for finishing off plays, whether it’s getting goals himself, or final passes for assists. As he gets fitter and sharper, I think he’s only scratching the surface with out group.”
On the game getting intense at the end:
“Well, you have a team who is winning 2-0, and another team who is obviously frustrated with how things have gone. It’s football.”
On getting points before starting at home:
“I think it’s an advantage, I really do. Games at the beginning of the year are never easy. Obviously, we all know it’s a week league where not much separates the teams. Especially at the beginning of the year, games are tight, conditions are tough, and they’re not always perfect days to play. In some ways to start the year with some road games where you can really solidify your mentality and what you’re going to be about on the road is a good thing. If you can put some points on the board, now come home ahead of the game a little bit, then you put yourself in a good spot. I think we’ve done that. It’s three games where we’re very cognizant of the fact that it’s a long season. We’ve not even come close to scratching the surface in terms of what we can be about. I think today was our best performance, but again, I think we still have a bunch of levels to go before we’re anywhere close to our best.”
On scoring his first goal:
“I’m really happy. Of course to score goals is always nice, but I think today it’s more important to win, the victory for the team. After two draws away, we really need it. I think we made a good game, maybe the first half wasn’t the best from us, but the second half I think after also the red card, we start to play, we made it more easy, and we have to be happy for the first win.”
On changing the match as a sub:
“I try to bring always football. This is my style. I try to play for the team, play for my teammates, and it works today. We have to be happy because we did our job, we didn’t receive goals, we won the first game and we have to proud of our team today.”
On his goal:
“It was a good action. Jozy gave me an amazing assist, and I was in front of the goal. It was easy I think, it wasn’t so difficult to put my head there, and of course it’s a nice feeling always to score a first goal in another competition.”
On what drew him to TFC:
“I had the opportunity to sign two years ago when I was playing in Belgium. And then, maybe when they came again to Mexico and I had this feeling that maybe it could be before, you know. Then when they say they really want you, I say ok maybe this is my time. I cannot lose again the train the second time. If it’s coming, it’s for something. I’m here and really proud to be here. It’s an amazing club and we try to the best always.”