Back on top. How’s the view up there Whitecaps? Can you see the Timbers and Sounders down there or are they just too far away?
Six games of the MLS regular season to go and Vancouver Whitecaps are top of the Supporters’ Shield standings after grinding out a 2-0 win over Colorado Rapids on Wednesday evening.
Can they keep it up and lift a shiny shield as an appetiser for the big one come December? With four of the remaining games at BC Place, they certainly have a great chance.
Games in hand mean it’s not all in their own hands just yet, but it’s getting close and the two games left against FC Dallas could yet prove to be absolutely massive.
However things end up, it’s been some season to be a ‘Caps fan and hopefully there’s many more like it to come.
Here’s our report and postgame reaction from the win against the Rapids.
REPORT (by Steve Pandher):
It may have taken 70 plus minutes but Vancouver Whitecaps were finally able to find a way to dispatch Colorado Rapids 2-0, beating them for the first time this season, in their third attempt.
The winning goal was scored by Octavio Rivero, while Cristian Techera added another and David Ousted picked up his eleventh clean sheet in the league this year.
There was very little that happened in the first half as both teams brought nothing to the match and most of their chances either missed or long range shots by Gabriel Torres and Gershon Koffie were easily handled by David Ousted and Clint Irwin.
Kekuta Manneh had a couple of opportunities in the first 15 minutes of the second half, with his first shot lacking power as it dribbled to the keeper. The second time he had enough power on the attempt, after being setup by Techera, but missed the target.
There was also no luck for second half sub Kianz Froese, with his chance from outside the box deflected wide by diving Rapid defenders.
Ousted then came up with his biggest save of the match as he was able to just keep out a Kevin Doyle header from crossing the line.
The home side finally broke through in the 73rd minute when Rivero scored his tenth of the season. It was the Uruguayan connection again, as Techera sent in a ball into the box to Rivero, who beat the offside trap and sent a glancing header into the bottom far corner of the net.
The lead was doubled by the Whitecaps four minutes later and the provider became the finisher with Techera claiming his sixth of the season. The Rapids were able to clear an attempt into the box right to Manneh who sent the ball to Techera and after controlling the ball, El Bicho fired a shot past Irwin to put the Caps up by two.
The two goals would be enough for the Whitecaps with the Rapids failing to threaten for the remainder of the match. The victory extends Vancouver’s home winning streak to four matches and pushes them past the LA Galaxy for first spot in the MLS Standings.
The ‘Caps will now have ten days off before they face Seattle in MLS competition but before that they will face CD Olimpia in the CONCACAF Champions League on Wednesday, needing a win to keep their qualification hopes very much alive.
FINAL SCORE: Vancouver Whitecaps 2 – 0 Colorado Rapids
VANCOUVER: David Ousted; Steven Beitashour, Tim Parker, Pa-Modou Kah, Jordan Harvey; Pedro Morales (Kianz Froese 46), Gershon Koffie; Cristian Techera, Mauro Rosales (Robert Earnshaw 90+2), Kekuta Manneh (Jordan Smith 80); Octavio Rivero [Subs Not Used: Paolo Tornaghi, Nicolás Mezquida, Deybi Flores, Christian Dean]
COLORADO: Clint Irwin; James Riley, Bobby Burling, Sean St. Ledger, Marc Burch; Lucas Pittinari (Dillon Powers 80), Sam Cronin; Nick LaBrocca (Vicente Sanchez 77), Marcelo Sarvas, Juan Ramirez; Gabriel Torres (Kevin Doyle 58) [Subs Not Used: Zac MacMath, Joseph Greenspan, Jared Watts, Marlon Hairston]
On tonight’s win:
“I knew it was going to be difficult by the way Colorado Rapids set up and the personnel on their team. They have beaten us twice. Our guys showed great character to keep going and not take their focus and confidence away. When you got quality on your team like we have, you can change a game in a moment and that’s what certainly happened.”
On winning a hard-fought match:
“I told the guys in the locker room, you can play all the pretty football you want, all the exciting plays, and the quick transitions and get bums off their seats and you get three points. You can also play with not much quality and have a moment of magic and get three points. So you take the three points.”
On the team’s performance off the ball:
“I don’t think it was particularly Cristian Techera’s best game as it wasn’t Kekuta Manneh’s or Octavio Rivero’s. You can name a number of our players who, on the ball, probably performed below the levels that they wanted. But off the ball, they were fantastic. They had a little bit of magic in the understanding that Cristian has with Octavio. It was great to see Octavio scoring a great header from a super ball from Cristian. Cristian has a great instinct to score goals and it made him more comfortable with the second goal.”
On Pedro Morales’ injury:
“He has an ice pack on his hamstring. He had a little bit of tightness. He had it in the two days leading up to the game. We have five players missing so I wanted him to play and he wanted to play. Some of his passing in the first half was excellent. He went for a tackle and I think it tightened up a little bit. There was no risk being taken by me. My decision to bring him off at halftime and get Kianz Froese on went well. I thought Kianz brought great energy to the team. We could’ve gone with Deybi Flores, a more defensive type of player, but we needed to get a goal.”
On the first-half performance:
“When you’re playing away from home, you slow the game down and that’s certainly what they did and they were trying to hit us on the counter-attack. I never thought we were in real danger in the back end and that’s the pleasing thing about tonight’s performance. We didn’t click attacking-wise but we certainly defended well. Maybe a year or two ago, we would’ve lost that game one-nil. When you don’t play well and you can win, it’s always a good sign and that’s what we’re trying to get in this club.”
On missing key players:
“We had a couple of character guys missing today. You talk about Kendall Waston, Matias Laba, Russell Teibert, and Darren Mattocks. These guys are big players for us. When things get tough, you need your leaders to come to the fore. It was great for these players. We’re young. Their energy, enthusiasm and work rate carried us.”
On Octavio Rivero’s goal:
“He’s excellent in the air. When you see him in training, he’s fantastic. I thought he had a good chance in the first half off a corner, he didn’t quite get there. So did Tim Parker. It happens sometimes. I was pleased for him to get a goal. He got a goal against Montreal from two yards, they all count.”
On Jordan Smith’s performance:
“I wanted to get Jordan on. It was his first home appearance. I thought he was fantastic last week against Houston. He’s a different type of player compared to Steven Beitashour. He’s a big, strong boy. Once we went one goal up, it was time to bring him on. He’ll play next week against C.D. Olimpia. He brings a physical element which is good on set pieces. That’s where I thought Colorado would catch us but we defended well on set plays. You have to give credit to Pa-Modou Kah. He fractured his cheekbone two weeks ago and he’s heading balls in the box. He has the desire not to let a goal in your net.”
CRISTIAN TECHERA (THROUGH INTERPRETER)
Thoughts on the game with a goal and an assist:
“The first half was really tight. A lot of the defenders were playing close to the ball. In the second half we came out, we grouped and we found some more spaces we felt weren’t there in the first half. We came out and we got the result that we needed.”
Thoughts on a lacklustre first half:
“It wasn’t really a matter of rust in the team. It was more in the first half they were really compact, keeping close to the man and guarding the ball really well. In the second half it was just a matter of us finding the spaces that weren’t there in the first half. That’s really what it came down to, and not rust.”
Thoughts on his assist and goal:
“You know for the first cross there – Octavio and I get along pretty well. We’re both Uruguayan, so it’s nice we have that same understanding. I just saw him run and was able to pick him out. We know that he is pretty strong in the air and he finished off the chance. For the second chance, it was a ball that was right in front of me so I just had to put it in the back of the net. There wasn’t really too much thought behind that”
OCTAVIO RIVERO (THROUGH INTERPRETER)
Thoughts on the match:
“First half was really tight and there wasn’t a lot of space there. In the second half we just came back in the dressing room, re-grouped, talked about a few things that we needed to take care of and came out in the second half and were fortunate to get the goal and got the points.”
Thoughts on scoring tonight:
“Obviously I feel happy for scoring but I feel more happy that I was able to help the team to win and that’s really (what matters). If the team wins then I’m happy, and If I score I’m happy, but at the end of day it’s really just getting the points.”
Thoughts on keeping the lead in the Western Conference:
“Every game from here on is almost like a cup final. It’s the way we’ve got to treat it. We want to finish the season strong and become champions at the end of the season. What we need to do is just keep going – playing hard and playing well and the results will follow”
Thoughts on the match:
“I think we didn’t play as good as we wanted to but I think it shows a lot of character that we still were able to get the result. Especially at home with these last couple of games we really want to get the crowd and these home supporters behind us. I think winning at home is important.”
Thoughts on losing twice to Colorado before this game:
“We had a bit of sour taste in our mouth from the last few times we played them. It’s something that we remembered and going into it tonight we wanted to get as many points as we could.”
Thoughts on different halves of the game:
“We just needed to pick up the intensity. Going forward I think we needed to clean things up a little bit and at the back just make sure we keep it to zero on the board. I think for us, it was just intensity going forward and a bit more sharpness.”
Thoughts on Techera and Octavio:
“They are doing great. Cristian and Octavio have an ability to find a goal. We always have faith that in some point in their game they will get their opportunities and today they both buried theirs, so it’s good.”
Thoughts on the clean sheet:
“I think the first thing Carl said after we scored the goal was to keep a clean sheet. We know how momentum can swing if they were to get a goal or something. For us we didn’t want to win a game 2-1 at home, we wanted to make sure it’s a clean sheet.”
Thoughts on the match:
“We let our guard down. There’s no time to not be thinking, not be concentrating. With those two goals, I felt like they were completely preventable. It wasn’t great build-up, wasn’t great football. It was just lack of concentration for those two goals.”
On the international break and why he chose his substitutes:
“I think guys with experience come from a different place and the guys get a result. At the end of the day, we had [Maynor and Drew] out with yellows, so we had to fill in and felt like those were the best choices we had.”
On where they go from here:
“We have our next game at home against DC. It’s important that we start right. I think we need to attack the game in the right way. It’s always tough coming on the road, playing on this turf and in this kind of atmosphere. I think we handled that part well. What we need to do better is to pass the ball better. We need to combine better, we need to make better decisions on both sides of the ball. I think if we do that, we have a better chance of winning the game.”
On the big game against DC:
“It’s a good opportunity for the guys to bounce back. It’s all about the mindset and it’s all about being more brave with the ball, and not as reckless with it. Caring for it more, passing to your teammate better, rolling him a better ball. Like you said, at home has been good these last couple of games. It’s important that we go there with the same kind of mentality and really take the game against DC in the early stages.”
Thoughts on the scoreline:
“I don’t think that was what the scoreline should be. I thought we had a pretty good first 45 and the game was pretty open the second half. I thought we fought well, we played well, just lost a few balls. They’re a good counter attacking team and that’s what they did.”
On their first half:
“It seemed like we were getting on top of them and all of a sudden, momentum swings. I think in the second half they took a little more momentum and it was tough for us to get back.”
On counter-attack leading to Whitecaps’ goal after Colorado chance:
“The game is inches. We score that goal, we might win 3-0. We don’t score and all of a sudden, we’re down two. It’s unlucky that we didn’t get the result, but we have a game in three days and can’t think about this one, we just have to move on to the next one, win that one.”
On the overall performance:
“I think there was a few moments. I think it was a really lucky bounce on their second goal and that’s kind of deflating. They don’t earn it and all of a sudden they get it, it’s a little bit deflating but I thought we still pressed, we still pushed, we still tried to create some chances. Overall, the performance was okay.”
On whether he was pleased with his offensive match:
“I think so. It’s what we’ve been working on this week, to make sure we get forward, make sure we add to the attack. I think we did a good job out there, but maybe I lost a bit of steam in the second half. I think the first half we did a good job.”
On where the team goes now:
“Saturday. We go home and we win that game, that’s all there is to it.”
On still being in the hunt for the playoffs:
“Absolutely. We’re never going to stop believing. There’s a good group of guys in there that are never going to stop believing. We’re going to fight to the very last moment of the last whistle in Portland. It doesn’t matter what our points are, we fight until the end.”