Ten goals, six different goalscorers and two clean sheets. That’s Vancouver Whitecaps’ record over the last three MLS matches and it’s a record that sees them with a four point lead at the top of the Western Conference standings after their 4-0 rout of an understrength Real Salt Lake side at BC Place on Saturday night.
Maybe Fake Salt Lake should be their new name, as Jeff Cassar left most of his first team at home in Utah. The ‘Caps have faced RSL in similar circumstances before, losing 1-0 in 2013 to the depleted visitors. It was a game that “still irks” ‘Caps coach Carl Robinson, then an assistant at the club, and he admitted he used it to full effect as motivation for his squad to not take anything for granted from the match.
Here’s our match report and postgame reaction from both locker rooms as the ‘Caps came to the fore.
The winning and scoring continued for Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday as they demolished Real Salt Lake 4-0 extending their winning streak to three and outscoring their opponents 10-1 in the process.
David Ousted picked up his easiest cleansheet of the year and was helped by Octavio Rivero and Pa Modou Kah’s goals in the first half while a second half brace by Cristian Techera was icing on the cake.
Unlike the midweek match against Seattle, it didn’t take long for the Caps to find their groove and get on the scoreboard when Rivero converted from the spot in the 7th minute. The striker earned the penalty when he was knocked over by Elias Vasquez as a free kick was sent into the box by Nicolas Mezquida.
RSL had their chances to draw even as both Abdoulie Mansally and Sebastian Saucedo both missed wide of the net while Luis Silva’s header was caught by Ousted.
Around the half hour mark the Caps had a couple of chances to double their lead but Kendall Waston and Kekuta Manneh were both denied by Jeff Attinella.
They would finally get that second goal five minutes before the half when Kah got his third goal in the last two matches. It was his fellow Gambian who set him up as Manneh twisted his marker around and slipped the ball to Kah who tapped the ball past the keeper.
Less than five minutes into the second half the Caps extended their lead to three after Mezquida took a long pass Laba and sent Harvey down the left wing. The full back sent in a cross that just missed Rivero but was converted by Techera at the back post.
The Bug wasn’t done there as he secured his first MLS brace in the 68th, leaving no hope for the visitors. He collected the ball outside the box, after a Pedro Morales free kick was cleared out, and fired a strike into the far bottom corner of the net.
There were even more chances for the Caps in the final 20 minutes to add to their tally, including a missed opportunity for Techera to get a hat trick, but the game would end at 4-0 putting Vancouver four points clear at the top of the Western Conference.
The Whitecaps will spend the next week away from BC Place. They will face Montreal Impact mid-week in the first leg of the Voyageurs Cup before taking on Sporting Kansas City in MLS action on the weekend.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 4 – 0 Real Salt Lake
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Kendall Waston, Pa-Modou Kah, Jordan Harvey; Matías Laba (Russell Teibert 69), Gershon Koffie; Cristian Techera, Nicolás Mezquida (Pedro Morales 63), Kekuta Manneh; Octavio Rivero (Darren Mattocks 76) [Subs not used: Paolo Tornaghi, Deybi Flores, Tim Parker, Robert Earnshaw]
SALT LAKE: Jeff Attinella; Justen Glad (Boyd Okwuonu 72), Phanuel Kavita, Elias Vasquez, Abdoulie Mansally; John Stertzer, Luis Silva (Pecka 69), Luis Gil; Olmes Garcia, Devon Sandoval, Sebastian Saucedo [Subs not used: Lala Fernandez, Demar Phillips, Luke Mulholland, Aaron Maund, Sebastian Jaime]
On today’s win:
“I think we didn’t play well in the first half, but, we got our noses in front from a penalty. I said to them at halftime, they need to tidy up a few things. I think the second half was a lot better. Obviously, got two goals, disappointed not to get one or two more. It was a trap game for us. It was difficult. Jeff [Cassar] decided to rotate his line-up, leave a couple of his bigger players at home based upon the game on Wednesday, which every team in this league does. As a manager, you get criticized when you do it, if it doesn’t work. And apparently you get called a genius if it does work. It was a trap game for us, but we took care of business today.”
On Real’s win in Vancouver in 2013, and whether this was used for motivation:
“I did [use it for motivation]. It still irks me now. They came and they changed the total line-up and they got their noses in front from Devon Sandoval, I believe, a header at that time. Couldn’t get back into the game. Things like that wind me up. It was passed a cross to them prior to the game and especially at halftime because the third goal was always going to be the big goal.”
Thoughts on the younger players and their growth in the last few weeks:
“Confidence is a big thing in football. And not just in the last two or three weeks. The guys who have been with us 18 months, the guys who have been with us for just six months, they prove day-in and day-out what it takes to be professionals. They’re young players, so it’s easy to criticize them when they don’t play well or they don’t do well, because everyone just sees them on a Saturday or Wednesday night. I see them on daily basis and I keep drumming the same beats really. They’re getting better and that’s all I can ask of them. They’re developing as players, they’re developing as people. Sometimes, because you’re young, you make a lot more mistakes than if you do if you’re a senior player. But I tell you what, my group has got some character in there, it really has. I keep challenging them and they keep answering.”
On their scoring potential and how this was lacking at the beginning of the season:
“Sometimes it’s your day and other days, it isn’t your day. I think we’ve played a lot better here at BC Place and lost, but that doesn’t matter, does it? But, I would take a 1-0 victory as well.”
On Bustos’ WFC2 performance tonight and whether he will be included in more MLS matches:
“Did he do well today? He did great the other day. He was a little spark coming off the bench for us. He’ll probably be involved at some stage with us. I want to see these young players grow and develop. There will be a number of young players on Wednesday against a good friendly rival of ours. There will be changes.”
On Pedro [Morales] earning his spot back in the starting 11:
“Pedro’s a top player. Without a doubt, he’s getting his fitness levels up. I’m sure if he reads your articles then it might give him a kick in the backside. He’ll just get on with it. If you’re in the team, and you have the shirt, it’s yours to lose. I keep telling that to the team in there. If you’re going to be successful in this league, you need a team. And it’s about a team. There’s no individuals. It’s about a team and Pedro’s part of the team, Nico’s part of the team. Even the guys who are not involved in the 18 are part of the team. All have competition for places and we’re certainly getting the levels at the moment that we like.”
Thoughts on Cristian Techera:
“Good players play anywhere. He’s a terrific young player. I say he was the best player on the field for me today. He really was. I’m disappointed that he didn’t get his hat-trick, because he turned down an easy opportunity with his left foot. The he went onto his right foot, which shows he’s confident. But he was outstanding today. I know he can play across any of the front three positions. Obviously, maybe not centre forward because he’s lacking a bit of height in that way. His brain is fantastic.”
On new signing, Jordan Smith:
“Hopefully we get the papers signed next week. I think he has a U.S. Visa, which is good. We’ll get him acclimatized to the group, we’ll get him in, make him feel welcomed. Kendall [Waston] knows him very well. I think they’ve spoke about 15 times in the last 24 hours, so he’s looking forward to having him in. It’s a great addition for us. Shows what the club is about – we’re young, we’re developing, and we’re trying to find unknown players to help this group.”
CRISTIAN TECHERA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR)
What does this performance and win mean to you?
“Very happy with the result, first and foremost, which is the most important thing. Obviously I’m happy to contribute on the goalscoring side as well.”
How hard was it to not take this team lightly with players missing?
“We don’t really prepare that way. We prepare the same way for every team, it doesn’t matter. That’s not something that we’re concerned about. We just need to go out and play our game and get points regardless of travels or who doesn’t travel.”
What was said at halftime?
“It was nothing major. We controlled a lot of the game and we held the ball really well. We gave up very few chances. There were just a few plays where we were a little bit sloppy, and we came out in the second half and made sure we corrected those.”
How much did time going back to Uruguay help recharge?
“It’s always great to go back and see your family, and it’s always very nice to have that support from them. Anytime I can go back it’s nice and it helps me move forward and advance in my career.”
What are you enjoying about playing in Vancouver?
“It’s great to link up with the Latino players because we understand each other on the pitch and it’s a little bit easier communicating. It’s great playing with guys like Nico, Mati, and Kendall.”
Thoughts on the match?
“I think we did good. The first half I think we were a little bit sloppy. That shouldn’t happen to us, especially knowing that they were coming here with a lesser team, with no disrespect, but still the first half was a little bit sloppy. But we got away from that and came out of here with a great win and we kept a clean sheet, so I’m very happy with that.”
Thoughts on third goal in two games?
“Kekuta was going to hit it first. I told him after the goal, hit it, because he did all the hard work, so him and Nico today really deserved a goal. Especially Nico because he’s been working very hard the last couple of games and he absolutely deserved a goal. But what he brings to this team, it’s invaluable and same with Kekuta. Both of them deserved a goal today. But the most important thing is that the team did well and we kept a clean sheet. That’s what I’m most happy about.”
Have you ever scored in back-to-back games before?
“Actually I have. But I’ve never made it a hat-trick, not yet so far. Don’t jinx me yet, but you never know. Back-to-back is alright, but my thing is defence and whenever we get a goal, it’s a fun thing and it’s a bonus. To make it two in a row, I might have to do maybe with the shirts off there, selfies are on the jersey backs, so that might help. I hope that we can keep it for the rest of the season.”
On the first time that the team has scored three or more goals in three straight MLS matches?
“I think it’s important. I don’t only think it’s been this game. If you look at the game we played in L.A., we had numerous chances to finish it, but we didn’t. Again in New York we had also plenty of chances again, but we didn’t finish it. Now it’s coming together with triple matches with three goals or more. Right now we have to keep on doing it and as long as we finish out chances, we know we can win games. When we have David behind us, with the back four and Koffie and Mati – it’s unbelievable to have them in front of us – so for us it’s about finishing our chances when we get them.”
On back-to-back clean sheets?
“That’s what we’re here for. For us we have to keep the form, keep it rolling. This game is done. Wednesday is a massive game, especially for the club, and for us. We have to make sure that we get something out of the Montreal game.”
On motivation from the 2013 loss to a weakened RSL side:
“We were aware of it. We didn’t want the same thing to happen. We knew that even though they were coming in with what looked like a weaker team that they were still good players out there. So we needed to be at the races at the beginning and get our goals.”
On half time talk:
“There were a lot of things said. I thought we were sloppy in the first half. I thought be played, to be honest with you, poorly, and we were up 2-0. That’s the positive. Second half we showed that we could be professional and get that win. Both getting the four goals today and playing smart and professionally in the second half.”
On defensive play and ninth clean sheet:
“We did well. We did really well. The back four was solid again, didn’t allow a lot of things. Pa’s shouting at the back that he got that goal. It was horrible. I don’t know how that went in. It was a bad, bad, no, it was great. We got our goals, we got our clean sheet, so we’re happy.”
On Cristian Techera:
“He was fantastic. Just so secure on the ball, Finding passes and getting his goals today. I was delighted to see him get those goals because he deserved them.”
REAL SALT LAKE
Thoughts on the match and result:
“It was a tough night for everyone – in tough circumstances against first place teams. I thought there was a period of time in the first half we settled in a little bit and played some good soccer, but the second goal was the one that put heads down a little bit. Respect to them, they are a very dangerous team going forward.”
Thoughts on the penalty:
“We started the game feeling good about ourselves and then we concede something that we really had to rebound pretty quick from. I thank the guys for doing that.”
Thoughts on travel affecting the team:
“It didn’t help but I’m not going to blame it on the travelling, I’m not going to blame it on anything. We’ll take responsibility. We had a very tough game in D.C., tough game in Guatemala, and to have a third one in quick succession was not going to be easy no matter what. If we can turn around and get a result against Kansas City in the Open Cup semis – we get an opportunity to be hosting the final in our building and that’s where we put our focus on.”
Thoughts on upcoming rest over the next couple days:
“We rested – a lot of guys stayed back and didn’t have to do the travelling. So I expect the team to be extremely hungry and full of energy and ready to go.”
On why resting players:
“Well I have to be mindful. We travelled from D.C. to Guatemala. To travel here and then out again on Wednesday, it can’t happen [playing three times in one week]. It would be foolish, it would be risking injury and I have confidence in every player on our team. This is the team we chose, we have to live with it and move on from the past and go after a win in Kansas City.”
Thoughts on appealing his ejection:
“I should, and my club will stand behind me cause I did nothing. I’ll talk to our general manager and our owner and see about it. I didn’t do anything wrong. If I can’t say anything to him [referee] then it’s ridiculous. I didn’t use the F word, I didn’t use any swear words at all.”
Thoughts on the match:
“It wasn’t good. Anytime you concede points like that it’s not fun. A bit embarrassing but we’ve got to pick it up and we’ve got to be ready. Wednesday is a must win game for us.”
Thoughts on there being a lot of different players in the line-up:
“Well, I just think that we had guys who haven’t played together much and we come here to play against a very hot Vancouver team. Obviously it makes a difference, but credit to the guys who stepped in. Nobody quit in the game, which when you are down 4-0 that’s pretty easy to do. Credit to the guys for not quitting and seeing the game out. As much as we can we are going to use this as a learning experience for the guys who don’t get as many games as they’d like. Like I said, do our best to fly home and be ready for Kansas City.”
Thoughts on resting in the next couple days:
“Yeah there’s not much rest. I’m more excited about the chance to go to Kansas City. After games like that, all you want to do is get back on the field. We are playing for a cup championship and if we can get a win in Kansas City we’re on our way. It’s a really big opportunity and I think we are just ready to get back out there and get on the field and show that what happened tonight isn’t the team that we are.”
Thoughts on playing many games lately with Rimando away or resting:
“It’s been good – anytime you get games like this under your belt you do the best you can and I take it as a learning experience. I’ve kind of seen a little bit of everything in my short career here. Obviously the last two games haven’t been great. It’s part of the sport, it’s part of the career – next time I get a chance to play I’ll be ready and hopefully I would have learnt from these past two games.”
Thoughts on the team’s MLS playoffs hopes:
“I feel good. We have a stretch of games at home. We’ll be fine. This is just a little bit of a set-back. We’re not out of it. We’re still in good shape and a couple wins and we’ll be talking about [something else].There’s a lot of soccer left.”
Thoughts on the next match:
“It’s obviously a game that everyone’s going to be up for. We like to look at them as a rival, so definitely when we have a cup match like this we put our emphasis on this game so it’s going to be an important one for us.”
Thoughts on resting players:
“I think we took this game [seriously]. We had three important games that are equally as important. I think that a lot of guys stayed but we were looking to get three points. The focus was there and the preparation was just normal. We wanted to come here and get a result.”
Thoughts on maybe not resting the players if given another chance:
“No. I think that, like I said, we wanted to win both games. No matter who is out there, our focus is coming in there and getting the three points.”
Thoughts on possible rest days:
“We’re trying to do what’s right for our bodies, trying to be good professionals off the field and put ourselves in the best position and go on there and move on to the final.”
Thoughts on balancing different competitions:
“It’s been tough, but it’s something we’ve done a lot of all year. We’ve played a lot of games with all these competitions that we’re in and we’re going to continue to do the right things off the field like I said and try to get ourselves in the best spot.”
Thoughts on a hopeful good run in MLS:
“That’s always a hope. We always want to put games together and get on a run. That’s the key to success in this league, to go on these runs.”