After a week of results that did not go in a favourable way for the Vancouver Whitecaps, the room for error was clearly getting slimmer and slimmer. Sunday’s game at Colorado Rapids wasn’t exactly a must win, but it really felt like a must not lose.
In the end the ‘Caps came away with another battling point after Brian White’s 41st minute equaliser cancelled out Danny Wilson’s opener just before the half hour mark.
With three huge games coming up for the ‘Caps whether this will be seen as a crucial point earned or five big ones lost in their last two games will start to become clearer.
Vanni Sartini made a couple of changes to his starting line-up, the biggest being Erik Godoy missing to yet another injury, a worry that is just not being allayed this season.
Colorado enjoyed the better of the first half and nearly took the lead 14 minutes in when Michael Barrios crashed one off the bar with a fierce shot when he had a wide open man to the right of him if he had simply squared the ball.
It was no surprise when the Rapids eventually took the lead in the 28th minute from a set piece, but the nature of the goal will certainly cause some consternation for the Whitecaps as Wilson was allowed to lose his marker and run in between Ranko Veselinovic and Andy Rose to head home a Jack Price corner.
— Colorado Rapids (@ColoradoRapids) September 20, 2021
Not for the first time, there were questions around Veselinovic’s defending of crosses and it proved costly once more.
Colorado were fortunate not to go down to 10 men when Braian Galván clipped Cristian Dajome and should have received a second yellow, but was given a lifeline by the referee.
The Whitecaps got back on level terms four minutes before half time and it was the Rapids goalscorer Wilson who went from hero to zero when his loose pass was picked off by Deiber Caicedo, who played in White to blast home the equaliser and set up an entertaining second half.
— Vancouver Whitecaps FC (@WhitecapsFC) September 20, 2021
The second half started off with end to end action, with both teams fancying their chances of getting the go ahead goal.
The Whitecaps brought on Lucas Cavallini, going with a rare two striker set-up and the Canadian international added a spark to the team as the game opened up, and nearly put the visitors ahead when a blocked Ryan Gauld pass deflected to him and his shot was smothered by Rapids keeper William Yarbrough.
Both teams were quick in transition and had their chances, sending some dangerous crosses into the box that weren’t converted as caution seemed to be thrown to the wind and both sides were having success finding space.
The game settled down a little as the minutes ticked by, with both keepers coming up with saves.
Colorado introduced Andre Shinyashiki and he almost gave the Rapids the lead back with his first touch, producing a save from Max Crepeau, which led to a scramble in the box from the rebound but Vancouver survived.
And they survived again in the dying seconds when Kellyn Acosta should have wrapped up all three points for the home side, but was denied by Crepeau.
Heading into this one, a point would have felt like a good result, but with RSL, Portland, and Minnesota coming away with big wins this weekend, it sees Vancouver slip a bit further off the pace.
They finish the weekend in 9th place in the West, just four points back of a playoff place and with three must win games now coming up against team below them in the standings. By the end of that stretch, we’ll have a far better idea as to whether the ‘Caps will be seeing out the season as playoff contenders or just spinning their tires till the end of season shake up that will surely be coming.
FINAL SCORE: Colorado Rapids 1 – 1 Vancouver Whitecaps
Possession: COL 57.4% – VAN 42.6%
Shots: COL 23 – VAN 9
Shots on Goal: COL 5 – VAN 4
Saves: COL 3 – VAN 4
Fouls: COL 5 – VAN 8
Offsides: COL 2 – VAN 0
Corners: COL 7 – VAN 6
COLORADO: William Yarbrough; Keegan Rosenberry, Danny Wilson, Auston Trusty; Braian Galván, Jack Price, Kellyn Acosta, Lucas Esteves; Mark-Anthony Kaye (Younes Namli 65), Jonathan Lewis (Diego Rubio 65); Michael Barrios (Andre Shinyashiki 83) [Substitutes not used: Clint Irwin, Drew Moor, Lalas Abubakar, Nicolas Mezquida, Cole Bassett, Collen Warner]
VANCOUVER: Maxime Crépeau; Ranko Veselinović, Andy Rose, Florian Jungwirth; Javain Brown (Patrick Metcalfe 88), Russell Teibert ©, Janio Bikel (Michael Baldisimo 61), Cristian Dájome (Leonard Owusu 88); Ryan Gauld, Déiber Caicedo (Lucas Cavallini 61; Brian White (Jake Nerwinski 79) [Substitutes not used: Thomas Hasal, Bruno Gaspar, Ryan Raposo, Tosaint Ricketts]
On the game:
First 30 minutes they overplayed us and we weren’t able to understand how to win the ball, we were too wide and not too compact, it was too easy for them to enter in to our defensive third. We had some problems but then we changed something on the fly and it went better. I think from minute 30 to 75 we were the best team on the field and then last 15 minutes it was a like a rollercoaster. Yes we could’ve scored, they could’ve scored, they put all the offensive players in, we tried to resist, resist, resist not forgetting that in altitude it’s really hard to play 90 minutes at high level here and they’re a really good team so I’m really happy with the result and the performance.
On playing White & Cava together up top:
Yeah, I saw very good pair movement. When I put Lucas on, we wanted to play with instead of two 10s and a number nine, one 10 Ryan and two number nines so to have a little bit more pressure and more presence up front, and I think they linked up very well. Lucas had two big chances and he did a very good job also firing in a lot of balls and that allowed us to play those 20-25 minutes of the second half that probably we deserve to score the second goal so I really like what I see from the two of them.
On the result:
I feel very good because yeah they’re number three in the West, but maybe they’re number two because there’ve some games less than Kansas City so they’re a very good team, and here it’s hard to make points. And I think the reaction was very good. I’m still a little pissed to be honest because we, we need to start the games better. Now it’s my fourth game in charge, and we always ended the game much better than we started, I’d like to see a game that we start on the front foot from minute one.
On the game:
Right now, a little bit frustrated I thought because it took a while to really get into the game first 20 minutes. I for sure was sloppy. I think we had a far too many, too many turnovers, gave them a few opportunities which was frustrating. Took us a little bit of time to find our way in the game and then I know we had a decent spell, obviously great goal, what a finish by Brian, Deiber does a great job of kind of popping up in that half space to win the ball and that was a good turning point for us and that gave us some energy, a little bit momentum going into the second half and obviously the game became a bit of a game of transition, they have a lot of weapons especially off the bench that came on. I thought Namli was difficult for us to deal with at times and in a place like this, given the run of form they’re on, all in all, given the second half performance, the fact that we had a couple of good opportunities to potentially sort of steal three points you know I thought we defended well and defended hard and had to protect our box, a lot, you know a lot of crosses there that was that one play with Ranko, who did incredibly well to block like three shots in a row. And so on the whole, I think tomorrow when I watch it will back, I’ll be fairly happy with all those things but that first 20 minutes right now is kind of stuck in my mind and I’m frustrated with that.
On conceding off a corner:
Yeah, you know, the way we set up zonal marking, it’s number one a fantastic delivery, a good run. I think, again, without being able to watch it back, it kind of lands somewhere in between Ranko and I, we had another similar one where again Price has been a great ball that I’ve been able to come and attack. You know, given their threats in that exact moment I didn’t think I could, I could get there and, and was hoping Ranko would be able to. Obviously it’s a great delivery and it goes over his head so look, when you mark zonally there’s obviously gaps and you cover everything you can and look when you mark man to man it’s sometimes as easy to get picked, and we’ve taken advantage of teams this season, who have played man to man and score goals, so no real perfect answer. Obviously, something we’re going to have to look at and maybe we go with three in that zone maybe tighten things up a little bit, as obviously when being the last man in that zone I’ve got one eye on what’s going on behind me and one eye on what’s I was going on in front of me and yeah, split second decisions and not always easy when the ball is whipped in with that much pace.
On the game:
I think it was a really good game, we didn’t start off so well, you know, but we grabbed the stage of the game and we talked to each other, we worked for each other and we scored before the half ended and from there, it was an intense game we had chances, they had chances, really good team. It’s a hard place to play.
On playing at high altitude:
I mean we were in Salt Lake, so we’re kind of used to it but we went back to Vancouver so it’s, it’s difficult but as I said before, the team stuck together we fought for each other and hence we got a good result.
On the club’s three consecutive draws:
“I’d be a lot more concerned if this conversation was: we scored three goals in the 90th minute to just barely get a tie. My point of that is that we’re doing a lot of things well. We’re creating chances. We’ve taken leads in all three games. It’s really how you look at it, right? Glass half full, glass half empty. For me, we’re doing a lot of things really well and we’ve had a few breakdowns that have led to goals against us. I would much rather be in that position than [when] we’re scrambling, we can’t create chances, we can’t create goals and we just manufacture something at the end to eke out a tie. Can you imagine if these three games were that way and we’ve gotten the same amount of points? The feeling would certainly be different. Right now the feeling is we do a lot of things really well. We are able to create some chances. We should probably score more goals, but we are able to create some chances and as long as you can create chances and not give away a multitude of opportunities, then you give yourselves a chance. I’ve never seen a team be really successful where everything just goes on a positive trajectory the whole season. So I look at this and go, we have to get better at certain things, but while we are learning these lessons, we are still acquiring points. Not as many as we want to be, but we’re still acquiring points.”
On the team’s mentality and impact from substitutes:
“I look at tonight and Diego [Rubio] and Younes [Namli] came on and gave us a lift. I thought Andre [Shinyashiki], in particular, did really, really well when he came on. Just so much energy. Won some balls defensively. Immediately got into two or three positions where he could’ve scored, created chances and I wholeheartedly believe that that is a strength of this team, is that there are so many good players with good attitudes who are prepared to give everything they have whether it’s 10 minutes or 90 minutes. You hear me say this every week, that’s what I love about this team is that there are so many guys who are not just talented, but are prepared to play and prepared to give their best every week and I think it’s a real testament to the mentality and to the personalities on this team.”
On making his first appearance after four months away:
“I feel good. I feel great. Of course, it’s different to get game minutes again. It’s been almost four months, around four months since my last game. Of course I could feel that but physically I feel really good. My ankle feels good. I just want to build on those minutes I got today. I’m grateful to be back with the group and I hope to get stronger every single week.”
On the team’s performance in the second half:
“[I] think for me I could see that Vancouver got tired in the second half. Me and Diego [Rubio], we came in with the thoughts of just putting a lot of pressure on them and try to create as many chances as possible to make it difficult for them. Don’t let them breathe, put them under pressure. I think we did that. The whole team they did that before we came in so that’s why they were tired when we came on the field. When we came in we just tried to do our best. I think we did it. We created good opportunities to close the game. Second half, like I said, we just have to be more clinical. Hopefully next time we can get those chances in the back of the net.”
On the club’s third consecutive draw:
“It’s football, you know. Sometimes the ball goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. You can say, yeah we did draw the last three games, but we’ve been really close, especially today. If you look at the game, everybody has that feeling of, ‘How did we go out of here with a draw?’ It’s a problem when you don’t create chances, when you don’t play well and you just have to sit back and defend the whole game, then it becomes a problem. But we had plenty of chances. We created good chances, we played pretty well. We just have to be more clinical. We haven’t lost in a long time so that’s a positive thing too.”